10 Easy Stretching Exercises For Flexibility

By:    Published: September 6, 2011

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If you want to keep your muscles flexible, the best thing you can do is stretch them regularly. Stretching doesn't have to be reserved for only before and after workouts. You can do it anytime, anywhere, even in your office cubicle. The flexibility you'll gain from stretching can also help you perform better when it comes to sports and agility. Even better, having properly stretched and flexible muscles can help prevent injury. Use these 10 basic stretches to start training your body to be more flexible.

1. Neck Stretch

To stretch your neck:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your head slightly forward, placing your right hand on top of your head.
  3. Gently pull your head downward and to the right. The stretch should be felt on the back left side of your neck.
  4. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
  5. Switch hands and repeat to stretch the back right side of your neck.

2. Shoulder Stretch

To stretch your shoulder:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Pull your right arm straight across your chest, holding it in place with your left arm.
  3. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
  4. Switch arms and repeat.

3. Triceps Stretch

The triceps are located along the back of your upper arms. To stretch this muscle:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Reach your right arm straight up, then bend it at the elbow so that your right hand is placed on the middle of your upper back.
  3. Place your left hand on your right elbow to hold your right arm in place.
  4. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
  5. Switch arms and repeat.

4. Calf Stretch

The calf muscle is located along the back of the lower leg. To stretch this muscle:

  1. Stand an arm's length away from a wall or other sturdy structure. Place your hands flat on the wall.
  2. Place your right foot behind your left. Your right foot should be about as far back as it can go while keeping both heels on the floor.
  3. Gently bend your left knee forward. Both legs should remain facing ahead and both heels should be on the floor.
  4. Keeping your back straight and hips forward, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.

5. Quadriceps Stretch

The quadriceps are the muscles along the front of your thigh. To stretch this muscle:

  1. Stand an arm's length away from a wall or other sturdy structure. Place you're your left hand flat on the wall.
  2. Bend your right leg up behind you, holding your ankle with your right hand.
  3. Gently pull your right leg towards your buttocks. Both legs should remain facing ahead.
  4. Keeping your back straight and hips forward, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.

6. Hamstring Stretch

  1. The hamstring is the muscle along the back of your thigh. To stretch this muscle:
  2. Lie flat on your back.
  3. Pull your right leg up towards your body, keeping the knee slightly bent.
  4. Grasp your right leg behind the thigh with both hands and gently pull it until your leg is at a 90-degree angle with the floor. If you can, slowly straighten your knee during this step.
  5. Keeping your back flat on the ground and eyes facing up, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
  6. Switch legs and repeat.

7. Lower Back Stretch

If you have back problems or osteoporosis, ask your doctor before trying this stretch for your lower back:

  1. Lie flat on your back.
  2. Pull your right leg up towards your chest.
  3. Grasp your right leg in front of the knee with both hands and gently pull it towards your chest.
  4. Keeping your back flat on the ground and eyes facing up, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.

8. Upper Back Stretch

If you have back problems or osteoporosis, ask your doctor before trying this stretch for your upper back:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold your arms out in front of you so they are parallel to the floor.
  3. Gently pull your shoulder blades together, bending your arms as you do so.
  4. Allowing your arms to continue pulling back slowly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.

9. Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis is located on the outside area of the buttocks near the hip. To stretch this muscle:

  1. Lie flat on your back.
  2. Bend your right knee and bring it halfway towards your chest.
  3. Grasp your right leg at the knee with your left hand and gently pull it towards your left shoulder.
  4. Keeping your back flat on the ground and eyes facing up, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.

10. Groin Stretch

The groin muscles are located on the upper insides of your thighs. To stretch these muscles:

  1. Sit on the floor with your back straight.
  2. Bend your legs so that the soles of your feet are flat against one another with your knees slightly raised off of the floor.
  3. Hold your feet in place with one hand on each foot.
  4. Gently lowering your knees towards the floor, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.

Tips to Maximize Your Flexibility From Stretching

  • Warm up with a light jog or ride on a bike for about 5-to-10 minutes before you stretch.
  • Don't bounce or push to the point of pain while you stretch.
  • Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds, and exhale as you stretch.
  • Stretch at least two to three times a week. Try not to get out of the habit of stretching regularly or you could lose the range of motion you've built up.
  • Talk to a doctor about how to stretch any problems areas, such as joints where you've had a previous injury.

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