User Reviewed

How to Stretch

Two Parts:Stretching ExercisesWhen To Stretch

Stretching correctly will increase your flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries caused by lesions of the connective tissues (such as the periosteum) and other nasty things. This guide shows a variety of techniques with the goal of revamping or establishing your stretching routine. Use the tips that suit your needs for the activities you do. If you are injured, do not stretch without the help of a physical therapist. Doing so may result in further injury.

Part 1
Stretching Exercises

  1. Image titled Stretch Step 1
    1
    Stretch your shoulders.
    • Place the back of one hand in the small of your back.
    • With your opposite hand, grab your elbow, gently pull forward, and hold.
    • Repeat with opposite side.
  2. Image titled Stretch Step 2
    2
    Stretch your triceps.
    • Reach up with one arm.
    • Bend your elbow and put your forearm down behind your head and between your shoulder blades.
    • With your opposite arm, reach up and grab your raised elbow.
    • Pull your elbow toward your head.
    • Repeat with other arm.
  3. Image titled Stretch Step 3
    3
    Stretch your biceps.
    • Put your arms straight out to your sides with your thumbs facing up.
    • Rotate your arms so that your thumbs face straight back, then rotate them forward until your thumbs are facing straight down.
  4. Image titled Stretch Step 4
    4
    Stretch your wrists.
    • Hold one arm out in front of you with your elbow bent (and close to your body) and palm facing up.
    • With your opposite hand, grab your fingertips and slowly pull them all the way down until that hand is now facing the floor.
    • Continue to pull on your fingertips, now in an upward direction since your palm is facing down.
    • Repeat with other hand.
  5. Image titled Stretch Step 5
    5
    Stretch your quadriceps.
    • Stand up and pull one leg behind you (flamingo position).
    • Once holding onto your foot, continue to apply upward pressure.
    • Repeat with other leg.
  6. Image titled Stretch Step 6
    6
    Stretch your calves.
    • Place one leg in front of the other (split stance) with your hands on your hips.
    • Lean slightly forward as you begin to straighten your back leg, ideally bringing your back foot all the way flat against the floor.
    • Repeat with other leg.
  7. Image titled Stretch Step 7
    7
    Stretch your hamstrings.
    • Sit on the floor with both feet out in front of you.
    • Reach out with both arms, ideally grabbing onto your toes and holding.
  8. Image titled Stretch Step 8
    8
    Stretch your hips.
    • Lie flat on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
    • Get into a figure four position by placing one ankle on your opposite knee.
    • Reach through and around your knee, clasp, pull it toward you, and hold.
    • Repeat with opposite side.
  9. Image titled Stretch Step 9
    9
    Stretch your groin.
    • Sit on the floor.
    • Press the soles of your feet together (butterfly position).
    • Pull your feet as close to your body as possible.
    • Put your hands on your ankles to where your elbows are lined up with your knees.
    • Push against your elbows trying to close your legs. (This contracts your groin muscles to help you get a deeper stretch.)
    • Push your knees down.
  10. Image titled Stretch Step 10
    10
    Stretch your upper back.
    • Reach both hands behind you and then up over your head (as if to perform a butterfly stroke in swimming).
    • Continue to swing your arms over your head and out in front of you.
    • Try to keep both arms parallel to the floor as you are holding the stretch.
    • To maintain balance, sit back slightly with your knees partially bent.
  11. Image titled Stretch Step 11
    11
    Stretch your neck.
    • Incline your head forward, but do not roll your head from side to side-this is dangerous. Instead, stretch your neck to the left, right, forward and back, but always return to center first!
    • Tilt your head with ear toward shoulder, incline your head backward and roll your head from left to right, then right to left in a 30 degree motion.
    • Be sure that while your head is tilted back, you keep your jaw relaxed and even let your mouth fall open just a bit.
  12. Image titled Stretch Step 12
    12
    Stretch your jaw.
    • Incline your head back, rest your chin on your palm, and pull your jaw open.
    • Say "Ah!" (you can mime it).
    • Grab your chin with your thumb, index and middle fingers.
    • Stretch it left to right. This exercise will help if you have been hit to the jaw (e.g., knocked-out in boxing).

Part 2
When To Stretch

  1. Image titled Get Strong Step 11
    1
    Never stretch before you warm up. The only reason it feels good to stretch even when you're cold is because your body sends out natural painkillers. To protect your tissues, you need to raise your cardiac pulse in order to fill them with blood. The only way to do this is by working out.
    • Swimming is the safest way to raise your cardiac pulse. Water reduces shocks to the body because it reduces the felt effect of gravity on your body.
    • Jumping rope can also be effective, but it may damage your tibia's periosteums, which is the membrane enveloping your bones (except at junctions) that allows the blood to flow from your heart to your muscles connected by the tendon.
    • Swimming pools are sometimes inaccessible, so an efficient and safe way to raise cardiac pulse would be by cycling (except if you have knee problems).
  2. Image titled Get Strong Step 13
    2
    Stretching before your workout will put your Central Nervous System (CNS) to sleep to increase your range of motion. It will result with less gain than improvement on the muscle part. The CNS naturally provides resistance by stimulating antagonists muscles when you flex a muscle to prevent it from being too stretched and tear your conjunctive tissues. Never stretch prior to workout, and always do it after.
  3. Image titled Get Strong Step 10
    3
    Always stretch after you work out. Stretching will ensure you have an optimal circulation of body fluids throughout your system and an adequate flexibility which will prevent your connective tissues to pop when you contract your muscle.

Tips

  • Stretch every day in order to become flexible more quickly.
  • Do not bounce or bob when you stretch - this is not effective and may lead to injury.
  • Create a daily stretching routine.
  • All stretches should be held, without movement, for 15-20 seconds. This surpasses the myotatic reflex which prevents any muscle from stretching for the first 10-12 seconds.
  • You should stretch as far as you are comfortable when inhaling, and when exhaling, go a little farther than comfortable. This increases flexibility when used as a daily routine.
  • Try not to stretch too hard if you are a beginner you need to get used to stretching so you can be flexible, if you start out by stretching too much that will cause injury.
  • Perform the exercises slowly to prevent injuries.
  • Wear stretchy clothes.
  • If some stretches are difficult at beginner level, you might want to use a wall for support, or the assistance of a friend.
  • Stretching should not hurt, just inflict a small and negligible instantaneous pain.
  • Exercise Carefully to avoid injury
  • Ease into a stretch slowly if it hurts.
  • Breathe in a natural rhythm, and stay calm. Don't stretch if you are injured.
  • Learn to love the 'pain' of stretching.
  • Don't exercise to much. it will cause injury.
  • Eat healthy. This will help when you are stretching.
  • Stretch as much as you can before a sport! Remember, you can never be too loose.
  • Stretch so you can feel it, but stretch comfortably, never force a stretch or you will injure yourself.

Warnings

  • Each individual possesses his/her own physical limitations when exercising. Be sure that you acknowledge your physical restrictions while stretching, ensuring that you do not induce injury in your efforts to exercise. Remember, your well-being is at the center of each exercise activity.
  • Never stretch when you are injured.

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Warm Ups Stretching and Flexibility