The Best Stretching Exercises For Total Body Flexibility

10 stretches to improve flexibility

We all know that stretching before and after a workout is very important for our muscles. There are some basic stretching exercises that you should implement in your workout plan and you should practice them daily.

For many of us stretching is very boring. Well, for starters it helps to prevent injury which is first but the most important thing.

There’s nothing like a sprained ankle to put a screeching halt on a workout routine and make getting around, in general, more difficult. When you stretch, you also help your joints move through their full range of motion, which leads to them working more effectively.

Regular stretching can help keep your hamstrings and hips later in life says the physical therapist and professor at Winston-Salem State University, Lynn Millar, Ph.D.

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If you have back pain from sitting in front of a computer all day or if your posture or activities are a problem, stretches that reverse that posture could help.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what is your activity level, the benefits of committing a 10-15 minutes stretch every day are numerous.

Follow these stretches to work your whole body performing each one on both sides 1-3 times for 15-30 seconds each.

Stretching Exercises For Flexibility

1. Triceps Stretch

Triceps stretch
  • Kneel, sit, or stand tall with feet hip-width apart, arms extended overhead.
  • Bend your right elbow and reach your right hand to touch the top middle of your back.
  • Reach your left-hand overhead and grasp just below your right elbow.
  • Gently pull your right elbow down and toward your head.
    Switch arms and repeat.

Stretches neck, shoulders, back, triceps

2. Lunge With Spinal Twist

Lunge with spinal twist stretch

This stretch is commonly referred to as the World’s Greatest Stretch (WGS) in the fitness community.

And for good reason: “It’s essential to help with posture-related pain or for people who sit for prolonged periods,” says Dan Giordano, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., co-founder of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in New York City and Seattle. “It helps open your hips and improve thoracic (mid-back) mobility,” he tells SELF.

  • Start standing with your feet together.
  • Take a big step forward with your left foot, so that you are in a staggered stance.
  • Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground, so you feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh.
  • Place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Stretches hip flexors, quads, back

3. Piriformis Stretch

Pirformis stretch exercise

The piriformis muscle is a deep internal hip rotator, located on the outside of the butt. Its primary role is external rotation. Deep internal rotators, while small, produce a lot of the movement at the hip and are often overlooked.

Since the piriformis crosses over the sciatic nerve, “If it is tight, it can result in sciatic nerve irritation,” says Cylerson D.P.T., clinical director at Professional Physical Therapy in Sicklerville, New Jersey.

“Stretching this muscle can prevent potential future sciatica, or help treat it.”

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  • Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you.
  • Cross your right leg over your left, and place your right foot flat on the floor.
  • Place your right hand on the floor behind your body.
  • Place your left hand on your right quad or your left elbow on your right knee (as shown) and press your right leg to the left as you twist your torso to the right.
  • If the spinal rotation bothers your back, take it out and simply use your left hand to pull your right quad in and to the left.

Stretches hips, back, glutes

4. Standing Hamstring Stretch

Standing hamstring stretch
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms by your sides.
  • Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lowering your head toward the floor while keeping your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed.
  • Wrap your arms around the backs of your legs and hold anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes.
  • Bend your knees and roll up when you’re done.

Stretches neck, back, glutes, hamstrings, calves

5. Hip Stretch

Hip stretching
  • Lie on your back and bend both knees with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Bring your left knee closer to your chest and bend it at 90 degrees so your calf crosses over your body.
  • Bring your right knee towards your chest, making contact with the ankle or shin of your left leg.
  • Wrap your hands around your right leg and pull it closer to your body, deepening the stretch.

6. Chest and Shoulder Stretch

Chest and shoulder stretch
  • Stand up straight or sit on a surface so that your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Clasp your hands together behind your back so that your arms are extended behind you.
  • Lift your hands to the ceiling to stretch your chest and shoulders.

7. Upper Back Stretch

Upper back stretch
  • Stand up straight or sit on a surface so that your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Place one hand on top of the other with arms straight in front of you.
  • Press your arms away from your body.

8. Bicep Stretch

Bicep stretch
  • Lift your arms straight out to the sides of you.
  • Make a thumbs up with both hands and rotate your thumbs down and then back up until they are pointing to the back of you.

9. Side Stretch

Side stretch
  • Raise your arms straight above you and clasp your hands together.
  • Push your hands up and then over to each side of you.

10. Shoulder Stretch

Shoulder stretch
  • Take one arm and extend it across your body.
  • Gently press and pull your extended arm to deepen the stretch.

Can you stretch anytime?

It doesn’t mean that you have to stretch just before or after a workout. You should practice these stretching exercises whenever you can.

You can do them before bed, after waking up, on your lunch break… Stay flexible and healthy.

Stretching for flexibility

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