Whether you would consider yourself a gym warrior or someone that is simply looking to live a healthier lifestyle, the benefits of stretching are key to being active. Some of the benefits of stretching include; increased mobility, improved 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, and you will be on your way to a healthier life.
Tips: As you hold the stretch, continue to work your way to making the back of your hands flat against each other. If you have a partner, consider having them push your elbows in to help increase the stretch.
AboutStretch:Seated or standing, this double arm tricep stretch is going to allow you to loosen up your triceps and shoulders. The more flexible you get, the better you will be able to press the backs of your hands together, which will increase your flexibility. This is an excellent stretch for after a workout where you have been lifting upper body.
Shoulder and Tricep Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Shoulders and Triceps
Tips: If you are not able to reach your hands, use a hand towel or resistance band to help you. Also, make sure that you switch your hand placement and stretch for an equal amount of time.
AboutStretch:Your shoulders are going to thank you after this stretch! You will also get some tricep stretch in 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. Both of these tools will help you work your way towards doing this stretch without assistance. Don’t forget to alternate arms and stretch both out for the same amount of time.
Upper Body Lateral Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Triceps, Obliques, and Lower Back
Tips: Do your best to keep your butt flat on the ground as you lean sideways.
AboutStretch: This stretch is going to help you loosen up each side of your upper body. You will be able to loosen up your body all the way from your triceps down to your hips. 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
Primary Muscles Stretched: Shoulders, Hamstrings, and Back
Tips: Start with your hands behind your back and then lean forward. If you are not able to hold your hands as you rotate forward, try holding a hand towel to help you work into eventually being able to hold your hands as you go forward.
AboutStretch:The bent over shoulder stretch is going to focus on your shoulders. Along with your shoulders though, you will also be able to stretch your hamstrings. When doing this stretch, really take your time and relax your muscles as you lower yourself down towards the ground.
Lying Shoulder Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Shoulders
Tips: If you have a partner, you may want to consider having them lightly push up on your hands to help increase the stretch.
AboutStretch: 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.
Primary Muscles Stretched: Back
Tips: The goal is to keep your legs straight, but if when starting off, you need to keep them slightly bent, that is okay.
AboutStretch: 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. Check out our list of the best Swiss ball exercises for more variations and ideas.
Extended Downward Dog Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Back, Shoulders, and Midsection
Tips: You can adjust the stretch by how far you reach out in front of you to start and how much you bend your knees during the stretch. To help protect your knees, use a yoga mat or a folded up towel.
AboutStretch:If you have ever done yoga, you have definitely heard of the downward dog. Well, this stretch is going to be a variation of that pose. It is going to have you 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
Primary Muscles Stretched: Lower Back
Tips: To help increase the stretch, you can also slightly rotate at the waist to help stretch one side of your back or the other.
AboutStretch: Your lower back is key to so many of your bodies different movements. 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.
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hamstrings and Calves
Tips: When doing this stretch, the goal is to keep your legs straight and feet flat on the ground. However, if you are not able to execute this right away, go as far as you are able to go comfortably and then continue to try and straighten your legs out as you become more flexible.
AboutStretch: One of the most common yoga poses, this yoga pose is also an outstanding 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
Primary Muscles Stretched: Lower Back and Obliques
Tips: You can rotate back and forth or hold the position for the desired amount of time; both variations work well.
AboutStretch: If you are on your feet all day long, your lower back is going to tend 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
Primary Muscles Stretched: Obliques and Hamstrings
Tips: Do your best to keep your butt flat on the ground and your leg straight as you lean over.
AboutStretch:Similar to the upper body lateral stretch, this stretch is going to allow you to work on your hamstrings as well. This is a great stretch to add to your daily routine, as it will enable you to be able to stretch a lot of different muscles at the same time.
Kneeling Oblique Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Obliques
Tips: To mix the stretch up a little bit and to help with flexibility, instead of just holding the position, you can gently pulse forward with your arm that is extended out.
AboutStretch:The kneeling oblique stretch is going to allow you to to be able to get a full extension out laterally. If you are feeling lower back stiffness, it may be because your obliques are tight. This stretch will help to loosen up those muscles and help with reducing back tightness.
Primary Muscles Stretched: Outer Hips, Glutes, and Lower Back.
Tips: The closer you pull your bent leg towards you, the more difficult the stretch will be. So as you continue to improve your flexibility, continue to bring your bent knee closer to your upper body.
AboutStretch:Opening up your hips with stretching can really help with loosing up other areas of your upper body and legs. For some reason though, hip stretches are not always at the top of people’s minds. The piriformis stretch though is a stretch that should be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to stretching.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Glutes and Hip Flexors
Tips: To work on more hip mobility, try slowly rotating your bent leg horizontally out and in.
AboutStretch: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. Laying on your back though is a great option because it is going to allow you to hold the stretch as long as you need. You will be able to be in a relaxed position and will be able to hold this stretch for the desired amount of time.
Kneeling Groin and Hip Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Groin and Hips
Tips: You can control the difficulty of this stretch by how wide you open your legs and how deep you allow yourself to drop down into the stretch.
AboutStretch: 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 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
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hip flexors, Shoulders, and Back
Tips: Do your best to keep your arm and leg straight. To increase the stretch, bring your bent leg up higher and press down with your hips.
AboutStretch: 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 work wonders when it comes to opening up your hips.
Sumo Squat Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Groin and Hip Flexors
Tips: If you need to, place your hands on the floor to help balance yourself. You can control the level of this stretch by how wide you spread your legs and how deep you allow yourself to sit into the stretch.
AboutStretch: Pretending you are a sumo wrestler has never been so fun, or so good for your body. This sumo squat stretch is going to allow you to work on the pelvic bowl region. It will also allow you to be able to improve the flexibility in your outer hips and groin area.
Lateral Lunge Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Groin and Hamstrings
Tips: Do your best to keep your extended leg straight. Keep your weight primarily on your hands and bent leg and allow yourself to sit into your stretch as deep as you want to go.
AboutStretch:Great for working on both the groin and inner thigh/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 your outstretched leg. This will allow you to increase your flexibility over time.
Low Side Lunge Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hamstrings and Inner Thighs
Tips: Do your best to keep your extended leg straight. Your weight should be primarily on your bent leg and hands. Allow yourself to sit back in the stretch as far as you are comfortable.
AboutStretch: A slight variation of the previous stretch. The low side lunge stretch is going to allow you to stretch the same muscles from a different angle. The same principles of the stretch apply as you can decide how much weight to put on the extended leg.
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hip Flexor and Groin
Tips: Use your hands to help you determine how much weight you put into this stretch.
AboutStretch: Ready to get your sprints in? Just kidding. This stretch resembles a sprinter getting prepared 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 help to protect your hip flexors and groin as you make those change of pace movements.
Reclining Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hip Flexors and Quads
Tips: Keep your weight on your hands and your hip pushed out. The farther you lean back, the more of a stretch you will feel.
AboutStretch: 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 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.
Forward Lunge Quad Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Quads and Hip Flexors
Tips: If you are unable to grab your foot at the start, use a hand towel or resistance band looped around your foot to help you execute this stretch.
AboutStretch:This forward lunge, quad stretch hybrid is going to have your hip flexors and quads feeling nice and loose. 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.
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hip Flexors, Quads, and Shoulders
Tips: To help improve flexibility, try pulsing as you do this stretch, or slightly opening and closing your legs as you hold the stretch.
AboutStretch:Similar to the last stretch, the bowl stretch is going to allow you to work both legs at the same time. This stretch is going to focus primarily 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
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hip Flexors, Quads, Hamstrings, and Lower Back
Tips: Do your best to keep your back leg bent and behind you and your front leg straight.
AboutStretch:Working a little bit of everything, this stretch is going to be great for getting loose before being active. This stretch is going to work on the hamstring, hip flexor/quad, and the lower back/oblique 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
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hamstrings and Hip Flexors
Tips: The more you keep your bent leg behind you and your front leg straight, the more the stretch will work.
AboutStretch:This exercise is primarily going to work on flexibility in the hamstring area. It is also going to be good for the lower back and quad/hip flexor as well though. This is an excellent stretch for both before and after activity or in your living room while you are enjoying your favorite TV show.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hamstrings
Tips: Keep your leg as straight as possible and your back flat on the ground.
AboutStretch: 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
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hamstrings and Lower Back
Tips: If you can’t reach your toes, try using a hand towel or a resistance band to help work your way there. Just loop it around your foot and pull yourself as close as you can comfortably reach.
AboutStretch:Another great 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
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hamstrings
Tips: Keep the majority of your weight on your back leg and hands. From here, allow yourself to sit down into the stretch as far as you are comfortable.
AboutStretch: This kneeling hamstring stretch is going to allow you to use your weight to help you stretch. By controlling how much weight you place on your hamstring, you will be able to have full control of the stretch. This is going to allow you to be able to stretch at your pace.
Lying Lateral Hamstring Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Hamstrings and Inner Thigh
Tips: If you are unable to reach your foot with your hand, try using a hand towel or resistance band looped around your foot. From here, you can work your way to being able to hold your foot.
AboutStretch: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 flexors are tight or sore, spend a little time using this stretch. You will really be able to help eliminate that soreness and tightness.
Toe and Foot Stretch
Primary Muscles Stretched: Top of Your Foot and Toes
Tips: Keep the majority of your weight on your hands and only allow what weight you are comfortable with to be placed on your feet.
AboutStretch: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. This is going to 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.