Best Stretches: Flexibility and Mobility
Whether you would consider yourself a gym warrior or someone that is just looking to live a healthier lifestyle, the benefits of stretching are key to being active. Some of the benefits of stretching include; improved mobility, injury prevention, better sports performance, and stress reduction.
It doesn’t take very long to stretch either, and whether you are already flexible or not, you can start working towards improving. So spend 15-20 minutes a day going through some of these different stretches on this list and you will be on your way to a healthier life.
For even more health related lists make sure that you checkout our lists of the best supplements for women, best supplements for men, and best bodybuilding supplements.
Top 30 Stretches:
Double Arm Tricep Stretch
Seated or standing, this double arm tricep stretch is really going to allow you to loosen up your triceps and shoulders. The more flexible you get the more you will be able to press the backs of your hands together. This is a great stretch for after a workout where you have been lifting upper body.
Shoulder and Tricep Stretch
Your shoulders are going to thank you after this stretch! You will also get some tricep stretch in there as well, but this is mainly going to work on loosing up your shoulders. If you aren’t able to clasp your hands in the back, use a hand towel or resistance band and work your way towards it. Don’t forget to alternate arms and stretch both out for the same amount of time.
Upper Body Lateral Stretch
From your triceps all the way down to your hips, this stretch is really going to help you loosen up each side of your upper body. Whether seated or standing, this is a great stretch to use before or after an upper body workout. If you struggle with back tightness, this is a must use stretch.
Bent Over Shoulder Stretch
Primarily focusing on your shoulders, this stretch is also going to incorporate your hamstrings as well when you keep your legs straight and lower your head down towards the ground. When doing this stretch, really take your time and relax your muscles as you lower yourself down towards the ground.
Lying Shoulder Stretch
Very similar to the previous stretch, the lying shoulder stretch is going to focus solely on the shoulder muscles. Make sure with this stretch that you are easing your way into it. Start out at what you are comfortable with and then slowly over time work to being more flexible.
Anytime you can use gravity to help you stretch, you are doing something right. The rollover stretch is going to do just that. You are going to roll your feet over your head and let gravity stretch out your back and hamstring muscles. A variation of this stretch is with a Swiss ball between your feet. Checkout our list of the best Swiss ball exercises for more variations and ideas.
Extended Downward Dog Stretch
If you have ever done yoga you have definitely heard of the downward dog. This stretch is going to be a variation of that pose and is going to have you really extend out your arms in front of you to get that great back stretch. As you begin to do this stretch regularly, you can inch your fingers out to help increase the stretch.
Lower Back Arch Stretch
Your lower back is key to so many of your bodies different movements, and no one enjoys being layed up with a lower back issue. This stretch is going to help you keep your lower back nice and loose and ready for movement. Use this stretch on a regular basis to help keep your back youthful and ready for movement.
One of the most common yoga poses, this yoga pose is also a really good stretch that is going to incorporate a good amount of different muscles. To adjust the difficulty of this stretch you increase or decrease the angle of the pike position. The closer your hands and feet are, the more difficult the stretch will be. Start with where you are comfortable and then over time slowly work your way in.
Lower Back Twist
If you are on your feet all day long, your lower back is going to have a tendency to tighten up. This lower back twist stretch is going to help you keep your back loose and feeling great. When doing this stretch you can hold the position for a designated time, or you can rotate back and forth between your arms.
Seated Oblique Stretch
Similar to the upper body lateral stretch listed as one of the stretches above, this seated oblique stretch is going to add in a hamstring stretch while you stretch out your sides. If you are getting ready to do something that is going to require activity and movement from your whole body, this is a great stretch to add to your stretching routine. You will be able to stretch a lot of different muscles at the same time.
Kneeling Oblique Stretch
Another great side stretch, this kneeling oblique stretch is going to allow you to really get some great stretching in because you are really going to be able to get a full extension out laterally. You most likely don’t need to do all of the different oblique or side stretches in the same stretching routine, but this will help you choose 1 or 2 to do each time you stretch.
Opening up your hips with stretching can really help with loosing up other areas of your body and legs. For some reason though hip stretches are not always at the top of people’s minds though. The piriformis stretch though should be a no brainer when it comes to getting loose for activity or when simply stretching to help with muscle recovery or overall flexibility.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Working your glute and hamstring muscles, this stretch is going to be a staple of stretching. You can also do a standing version of this stretch as well, but laying on your back is a great option that is going to allow you to hold the stretch as long as you need.
Kneeling Groin and Hip Stretch
This stretch is going to focus on your hips and groin area. By doing this stretch you are really going to be able to open up your pelvic bowl area. Often times when someone is experiencing back tightness it stems back to having tight hips. So if you have been stretching your back and still having tightness, give this stretch a try.
Face Down Lying Hip Flexor Stretch
Another great stretch to loosen up the pelvic bowl, the face down lying hip flexor stretch is going to allow you to use your weight to help hold the stretch. This is going to make it easy to hold the stretch and allow for improved flexibility over time. This is a simple stretch to do, but can really work wonders when it comes to opening up your hips.
Sumo Squat Stretch
Pretending you were a sumo wrestler has never been so fun, or good for your body. As with the previous couple of stretches, this sumo squat stretch is going to allow you to work on that same pelvic bowl region and really allow you to improve the flexiblity in your outer hips and groin area.
Lateral Lunge Stretch
Great for working on both the groin and inner thing/hamstring area, the lateral lunge stretch is a staple of most stretching routines. With most of the weight on your hands, you will be able to ease yourself into how much weight you want to put on the stretch. This will allow you to continue to become more flexible over time as you continue to gradually allow for more and more of your weight to be on the leg that is out and being stretched.
Low Side Lunge Stretch
A slight variation of the previous stretch, the low side lunge stretch is just going to allow you to come at the same muscles from a slightly different angle. The same principles of the stretch apply as you are able to decide how much weight to put on the extended leg.
Ready to get your sprints in? Just kidding. This stretch resembles a sprinter get ready in the blocks, but doesn’t require any actual sprinting. This stretch is going to focus primarily on the hip flexor and groin area and is a good stretch for anyone to use. If you are looking to be active though and are going to be making explosive movements, this stretch is a must. It will really help to protect your your hip flexors and groin as you make those change of pace movements.
Reclining Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch
If you have sore quads or tight hip flexors, this stretch is not going to be fun at first. But, give it a few seconds and you will notice that it is going to really start helping to loosen up both muscles. Secondarily you are also going to get a stretch on the tops of your feet and shin muscles (tibialis anterior muscle).
Forward Lunge Quad Stretch
This forward lunge quad stretch hybrid is going to have your hip flexors and quads feeling nice and loose when you are finished. A little bit more of an advanced stretch to get into, but a really great stretch to add to your stretching routine. If you aren’t quite able to reach back and grab your toes, try a small resistance band to help you work your way towards being able to grab your toes.
Similar to the last stretch, the bowl stretch is going to allow you to work both legs at the same time and will focus on the quads and hip flexor muscles. You may need to work your way up to this stretch, but it is a great stretch if you are able to. Keep yourself nice and controlled as you raise up and don’t perform this stretch in jerky movements.
Lateral Twist Hurdle Stretch
Working a little bit of everything, this stretch is going to be great for getting loose before being active. The extended leg will stretch the hamstring, the tucked back leg will work on the hip flexor/quad, and the twist will help to loosen up the lower back/side area. Try out this stretch next time before you workout at the gym, play your favorite sport, or go for a run.
Arms Extended Hurdle Stretch
This exercise is primarily going to work on flexiblity in the hamstring area, but it is also going to be good for the lower back and quad/hip flexor for the leg that is tucked back. A great stretch for both before and after activity, or just in your living room while you are enjoying your favorite TV show.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Hamstrings can be very finicky, especially when it comes to playing sports of being active. So if you are doing something active, this stretch is a must. However, whether you are being active or just looking to remove/prevent tightness, this lying hamstring stretch is going to be a great stretch to do.
Single Leg Seated Hamstring Stretch
Another version of the hamstring stretch, this version is going to be seated and is going to allow you to pull on your toes/feet to help bring yourself forward. If you are thinking to yourself, “there is no way I can even reach my feet” don’t worry. A dish towel or a small resistance band will help you to be able to work your way to that.
Kneeling Hamstring Stretch
Another version of a hamstring stretch, this kneeling hamstring stretch is going to allow you to use your weight to help you really stretch out your hamstring. Place most of your weight on your knee, and then slowly decide how much weight you want to transfer to your hamstring. This will allow you to have full control of how far you stretch out your hamstring.
Lying Lateral Hamstring Stretch
Similar to the lying hamstring stretch, this lateral hamstring stretch is going to work your inner thigh and groin area. So if you feel that your inner thighs and hip flexor are tight or sore, spend a little time using this stretch and you will really be able to help elminate that soreness and tightness.
Toe and Foot Stretch
If you spend a lot of time on your feet, this stretch is going to change your life. Keeping most of the weight on your hands, you are going to put some of the pressure on the tops of your toes and allow your toes, tops of your feet, and ankles to be stretched. This is going to really help to alleviate the tightness and soreness in your feet.
Best Stretches Conclusion
You don’t have to be a professional athlete to be dedicated to stretching or see the value that it has on your quality of life. With a simple 15-20 minutes a day you could very well eliminate that annoying back and leg stiffness.
The other great thing about stretching is that it can be done almost from anywhere. You don’t need a whole lot of room, so next time you are enjoying a TV show at home, pull out a yoga mat or just use the floor and invest in yourself with some of these great stretches.
If you are a fitness fanatic make sure that you checkout some of our other fitness related lists as well; best fitness sites, TRX exercises, best yoga poses.
Have any stretches that you really like but weren’t on the list? Let us know in the comments below so the other readers can check them out.