36 Pictures To See Which Muscle You’re Stretching

Stretching, basically, is a natural activity that people do instinctively after waking from sleep or after long periods of inactivity. Stretching is also a part of a workout which somehow all people tend to skip. Stretching warms the muscles so they become more pliant and it makes a difference in how your muscles respond to exercise. It is important to know that stretching is only one part of warming up. Therefore, next time you work out try to perform the general warm-up before you stretch. Here are some of the benefits from incorporating stretching into your daily routine.

Health benefits of stretching:

  • helps improve flexibility
  • prevents injuries
  • enables your muscles work most effectively
  • increases stamina
  • promotes blood circulation
  • reduces cholesterol
  • boosts energy
  • improves overall posture
  • calms the mind

In addition, we will show you illustrations of some of the most effective stretches which you will be able to do at home. These illustrations were created by Vicky Timón, a yoga expert and author of “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises,”  and James Kilgallon, CSCS, creator of Mazlo’s Body Maintenance Program. So, try these super-effective, easy-to-follow stretches once or twice a day and you’ll start feeling the flex benefits in no time.

Check them out!

Camel Pose1. Camel Pose

Strengthens: human back

Stretches: abdomen, thigh, thorax, ankle, groin, throat, entire front of the body

Level: Intermediate

Instructions: Sit on your heels and place your hands behind you and push your hips up and forward. Avoid putting too much pressure on the lumbar spine.

Benefits: This yoga posture adds flexibility and strength to the body and also helps in improving digestion.

2. Wide Forward Fold

Strengthens: leg, vertebral column

Stretches: leg, vertebral column

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to start with your knees bent, holding your spine straight. And, when you start feeling your muscles starting to release, straighten your legs, round out your back and reach for your feet. Now, you need to pull easily on the bottom of the balls of your feet in order to release the calf muscles.

Benefits: Strengthens and stretches the inner and back legs and the spine, tones the abdominal organs, calms the brain and relieves mild backache.

3 Frog Pose

3. Frog Pose

Strengthens: human back

Stretches: abdomen, thigh, thorax, ankle, groin, throat, psoas major muscle

Level: Beginner

Instructions: You need to rest your hands and knees and then bring your knees wider until you feel your groin muscles well stretched. And, you may feel a bit differing stretches as you actively push your hips back and forward.

Benefits: Frog pose is a simple, yet very powerful posture to open and stretch the hips, groin and insides of the thighs.

4. Wide Side Lunge Pose

Strengthens: the thighs, ankles, knees, butt, and hips

Stretches: the hips, calves, achilles tendons, hamstrings, and groins

Level: All levels

Instructions: Put both your feet forward in a wide stance and hold your legs as straight as possible. With your hands, walk to your right foot and bend your right knee and rotate your left toes up to the ceiling, sitting in your right hip. Make sure your right foot stays flat on the ground.

Benefits: Improves balance and core strength, stretches the hamstrings and hips.

5 Butterfly Stretch

5. Butterfly Stretch

Strengthens: the thighs, ankles, knees, butt, and hips

Stretches: the hips, calves, achilles tendons, hamstrings, and groins

Level: Beginner

Instructions: While you are sitting, you need to bring the soles of your feet together and sit tall through your sit bones. You need to develop this stretch by putting pressure on your knees, using your both hands. And, if you want to stretch your groin muscles better, you need to hold your feet closer to your body. You need to make sure your feet are far from your hips and slowly round your upper body to loose your back muscles.

Benefits: Targeting primarily the legs, it is the perfect antidote to relax and stretch the muscles of the legs.

6. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Strengthens: the elbow

Stretches: the elbow

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to pack your shoulders and your back down and rotate the shoulder towards outside in order to get into the optimal position to stretch the forearm muscle. And now, after you’ve managed to bring your body into this body position, you need to put pressure on your other hand to start the stretch. You can also develop this stretch by touching the tips of your fingers together in the shape of a tea cup.

Benefits: Maintain a balance between the length of the flexors and the extensors. Maintain mobility of tendons within and around the wrist and forearm.

7 Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck

7. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck

Strengthens: the neck

Stretches: upper fibres of trapezius. scalenes. levator scapulae

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to prolong your neck as much as possible. Now, slowly drop your ear to your shoulder and make sure that you aren’t collapsing your cervical spine. Well, this type of stretch can be further developed and advanced by sitting on a chair and holding onto the bottom of the seat. This method is going to make the tension down your arm and neck consistent. This will also let you target the upper traps.

Benefits: This exercise allows the neck to assume its normal range of motion and enhances flexibility of the neck muscles.

8. Neck Rotation Stretch

Strengthens: the neck

Stretches: upper fibres of trapezius. scalenes. levator scapulae

Level: All levels

Instructions: You should begin this stretching exercise by rotating your neck in a slow manner, while keeping your chin a bit elevated to isolate the sternocleidomastoid. If you want to perform a deeper stretch, you will need to put pressure with the opposite hand from the direction that you are rotating.

Benefits: These exercise allows the neck to assume its normal range of motion and enhances flexibility of the neck muscles.

9 Neck Extension Stretch

9. Neck Extension Stretch

Strengthens: the neck

Stretches: upper fibres of trapezius. scalenes. levator scapulae

Level: All levels

Instructions: Put your hands on your hips. In the meantime, you need to keep your spine long start to tilt your head back, ensuring that you aren’t collapsing your cervical spine.

Benefits: These exercise allows the neck to assume its normal range of motion and enhances flexibility of the neck muscles. Relax tense muscles and moves and lubricates joint surfaces.

10. Lateral Slide Flexion of the Neck with Hand Assistance

Strengthens: the neck

Stretches: upper fibres of trapezius. scalenes. levator scapulae

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to prolong your neck as much as possible, while you slowly drop your ear to your shoulder. And, while you are doing this, you need to make sure you are not collapsing your cervical spine. You can advance this type of stretching by sitting on a chair and grabbing the bottom of its seat. Well, in this way you can create consistent tension down the arm and the neck, and it will let you target the upper traps.

Benefits: These exercise allows the neck to assume its normal range of motion and enhances flexibility of the neck muscles. Relax tense muscles and moves and lubricates joint surfaces.
11 Half Kneeling Quad Hip Flexor Stretch

11. Half Kneeling Quad / Hip Flexor Stretch

Strengthens: the hip

Stretches: the hip

Level: Beginner

Instructions: You should begin in the half-kneeling position. And then, you should bring forward the right hip, and you should also start feeling a stretch in the front of your hip while you do that. Now, you should take your back foot and squeeze your back glute in order to add to the stretch on your hip flexors.

Benefits: Back pain treatment, such as this stretch will keep your spine healthy and help to attain back pain relief.

12. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Strengthens: the forearm

Stretches: forearm extensor muscles

Level: Beginner

Instructions: You need to begin this stretching exercise by packing your shoulder and your back down. After that, you need to rotate your shoulder towards outside to get into the optimal position to stretch the forearm muscle. Now, when you’ve come into this position, you need to put pressure on your opposing hand to start the stretch. Note: you can advance this type of stretching by touching the tips of your fingers together in the shape of a tea cup..

Benefits: An effective treatment for tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis.

13 Lateral Shoulder Stretch

13. Lateral Shoulder Stretch

Strengthens: shoulders, back

Stretches: the lateral shoulder

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to put your arms across your body and put pressure on your arm to add to the stretch on your shoulder.

Benefits: Maintains a balance among the muscles around the shoulders and upper back.

14. Standing Assisted Neck Flexion Stretch

Strengthens: trapezius muscle

Stretches: trapezius muscle

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to stand on the ground with your feet together. Note: you need to be sure that your spine is prolonged and slowly sit your hips back and round your upper back, pushing your chin to your chest at the same time.

Benefits: Maintains a balance among the muscles.

15 Lat Stretch with Spinal Traction

15. Lat Stretch with Spinal Traction

Strengthens: lats and chest

Stretches: lats and chest

Level: All levels

Instructions: Start by taking a firm grip on bar, then slowly lift your feet off the ground. You should feel a stretch in your lats and chest. If you take your feet completely off the ground you will feel traction in your your lumbar spine.  Avoid this stretch if you have recently injured your shoulder, and/or have impingement of the shoulder.

16. Lat Stretch at the Wall

Strengthens: lats and chest

Stretches: lats and chest

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to put your both hands on the corner of a wall or post. And, while you are maintaining your spine prolonged, you need to push your hips out the side in a slow manner. And, if you are having problems with your lower back, don’t perform this stretching exercise.

17 Child’s Pose

17. Child’s Pose

Strengthens: hip, thigh, ankle

Stretches: hip, thigh, ankle

loading...

Level: All levels

Instructions: Start on your hands and knees then slowly bring your hips back until your forehead is on the floor.  You can bring your knees wider to get a better stretch in your hips. Arch your upper back and externally rotate your shoulders to stretch your lats and chest muscles.

Benefits: Calming for the mind. Helps digestions. Elongates the lower back.

18. Standing Calf Stretch

Strengthens: tight calf muscles

Stretches: tight calf muscles

Level: All levels

Instructions: You can perform this stretch on a rack or on the edge of a stair step. Lightly rotate your ankles internally and externally to actively stretch the calf muscles.

Benefits: Helps posture or movement problems.

19 Front Split

19. Front Split

Strengthens: hips

Stretches: hips

Level: Advanced

Instructions: Start in a kneeling lunge position. It will be good  to have the support of a chair as your hip flexors and hamstrings release

Benefits: Opens the Hip Flexors

20. Seated Forward Fold / Seated Toe Touch

Strengthens: the spine, shoulders, hamstrings

Stretches: vertebral column, shoulder, hamstring

Level: All levels

Instructions: Start by sitting into your sit bones and bend the knees if needed. As your flexibility improves your legs will naturally straighten. If you have back problems keep the spine as straight as possible. You can also perform this stretch lying on your back with your feet up a wall.

Benefits: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. Stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings. Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus. Improves digestion.

21 Single Leg Forward Bend

21. Single Leg Forward Bend

Strengthens: the legs

Stretches: the spine, shoulders and wrists (in the full pose), hips, and hamstrings

Level: All levels

Instructions: Put one foot in front of the other. Place your hands to your hips and while keeping the back straight, begin to bend from the hips.

Benefits: Calms the brain. Stimulates the abdominal organs. Improves posture and sense of balance.

22. Deep Squat

Strengthens: hip, ankle, and shoulder

Stretches: hip, ankle, and shoulder

Level: All levels

Instructions: Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart then slowly lower yourself into the deep squat. Once in position bring your arms inside your legs and lightly apply pressure to the inside of your knees, sitting into the hips and heels. You can also practice this position lying on your back with your feet against a wall.

Benefits: Eases lower back pain. Maintains your balance.

23 Seated Half King Pigeon Pose

23. Seated Half King Pigeon Pose

Strengthens: human back, groin

Stretches: glutes and abdomen

Level: All levels

Instructions: Sit down and slowly pull your leg to your chest and rotate your hip while keeping your spine straight.

Benefits: Stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck. Stimulates the abdominal organs. Opens the shoulders and chest

24. Standing Calf Stretch at the Wall

Strengthens: calf muscles

Stretches: calf muscles

Level: Beginner

Instructions: Start in a lunge position with your back foot turned out.  Slowly place your back heel to the ground to stretch your calf muscles.

Benefits: Improves tightness in the calf which can affect the position of the foot, the way it moves and our balance.

25 Lateral Flexion at the Wall

25. Lateral Flexion at the Wall

Strengthens: external obliques

Stretches: external obliques

Level: All levels

Instructions: Keep your spine long and slowly push your hips out the side.  Don’t do this if you have lower back problems.

Benefits: Lengthens the muscles between the ribs and pelvis, including parts of the low back, and opens the sides of the rib cage, improving rib cage mobility and the expansiveness of the lungs, which makes breathing easier.

26. Supine Twist

Strengthens: the kidneys, abdominal organs, urinary bladders and intestines

Stretches: back muscles and spine

Level: Beginner

Instructions: You should begin this stretch by lying flat on your back and then bring one leg across your body, and gradually rotate your gaze and upper body in the opposite direction. You should remember about this stretch is that you use your breath to open up your rib cage and sacroiliac joint and hip area without putting too much pressure on the lower back. But, if this type of stretch is too difficult for you, you need to stack both of your knees on top of each other, and when you are positioned this way, you will feel more stretch on the upper spine when the knees are higher, and more stretch on the lumbar spine when the knees are lower.

Benefits: Releases stress. If the knee is straightened, it stretches the hamstrings and strengthens the legs.

27

27. Lateral Flexion with a Dowel

Strengthens: external obliques and latissimus dorsi

Stretches: external obliques and latissimus dorsi

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to keep your spine long, and gradually push your hips out to the side while keeping your shoulders rotated outwardly. Note: if you are experiencing some kind of lower back problems, don’t perform this stretch.

Benefits:

28. Triangle Pose

Strengthens: knee, thigh, ankle

Stretches: hip, knee, shoulder, vertebral column, thigh, thorax, ankle, aamstring, calf, groin

Level: Intermediate

Instructions: You need to begin with a wide stand and with your front foot straight ahead, and your back foot at 90 degrees. Then, you need to put your front leg or on the floor, and sit back into your front hip, keeping your back straight. Now, rotate away from your front leg and you should maintain your look on the hand that’s not in the air.

Benefits: This stretch benefits those who deal with sciatica pain.

Yoga29_30-1024x576

29. Chest Stretch at the Wall

Strengthens: chest and shoulders

Stretches: chest and shoulders

Level: Beginner

Instructions: If you are a beginner, you need to face the wall with your thumb up. And now, you need to gradually rotate away from the wall in order to stretch your chest muscle. This type of stretch exercise should be felt in the belly of the muscle, but you should be careful not to stretch too far, because it may cause you a pain in the shoulder joint.

Benefits: Improves posture of the upper back and shoulder girdle.

30. Assisted Chest Stretch

Strengthens: chest and shoulders

Stretches: chest and lats and cause some traction in your spine

Level: All levels

Instructions: you need to begin this stretch by lying down on the floor and holding your palms faced up. And now, your partner should be seated in a deep squat and hold your hands. If you have shoulder impingement, don’t perform this stretch.

Benefits: Improves posture of the upper back and shoulder girdle.

31 Seated Half Pigeon Variation

31. Seated Half Pigeon Variation

Strengthens: hips

Stretches: hips

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to begin this stretch by sitting with your feet positioned in front of you. You should put one hand behind your and rotate your hip outwardly and put one foot above the knee. Note: if you with to add to the stretch on your hip, you should gradually lean forwardly and start the movement by hanging at the hips.

Benefits: Benefits your hips and lower back.

32. Supine Shoulder External Rotation Stretch

Strengthens: subscapularis muscle

Stretches: subscapularis muscle

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to begin by lying on your back. After that, you should place your arm straight out to the side with your elbow at an angle of 90 degrees. The next thing you should do is to gradually bring the back of your hand to the floor. Note: if you can’t bring your hand close to the floor, and it’s still far away – this means that your rotator cuff and other muscles that control internal rotation are tight.

33 Down Dog Variation at the Wall

33. Down Dog Variation at the Wall

Strengthens: the whole body

Stetches: lats and chest muscles

Level: All levels

Instructions: Place yourself far enough from a wall or rack so that when you touch the wall your body becomes parallel to the ground.  Move into this position by hinging at the hips and keeping your spine straight.  Once in position, push your chest forward creating a slight arch in your upper back, stretching your lats and chest muscles. If you have tight hamstrings try bending at the knees.

Benefits: Builds strength, increases flexibility, relieves back pain, and brings all the benefits of an inversion.

34. Assisted Chest Stretch Variation

Strengthens: pectorals

Stretches: pectorals

Level: All levels

Instructions: You need to lie down on the floor with your face down and your palms faced down. Then, your partner should pull your hands back and you should feel a deep stretch in your chest muscles. Note: you should be extra careful and if you have shoulder impingement, you shouldn’t perform this stretch.

35 Standing Upper Trapezius Stretch

35. Standing Upper Trapezius Stretch

Strengthens: upper trapezius muscle

Stretches: upper trapezius muscle

Level: All levels

Instructions: Grasp your right wrist with your left hand. Pull your right arm as far as possible to the left. Your hands should be in back, or just outside of your left hip. Lower your head sideways, toward your left shoulder, until you feel the stretch in your neck. Maintain the stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat it on the opposite side.

Benefits: Loosens your trapezius muscles.

36. Standing Upper Back Extension

Strengthens: the teres major, rhomboid and uper trapezius muscles

Stretches: the teres major, rhomboid and uper trapezius muscles

Level: All levels

Instructions: Stand erect and place your feet close next to each other. Extend your arms in front of you with your fingers interlaced and your palms facing forward. Lowering your head slightly forwards, push your hands frontward while exhaling, allowing your back to arch slightly while your knees are bending. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.

Benefits: Loosens the tension, prepares you for a workout or even helps to improve your posture.

Article source: www.healthyfoodresources.com