A Full Body Guide to Stretching

Tight muscles decrease your range of motion and slow you down.

Studies show, stretching is a key component to helping you stay active and mobile.

Why You Should Stretch:

  1. Stretching consistently can help relieve tension throughout your body.
  2. Stretching helps keep you limber, agile and strong for your daily activities.
  3. Stretching mindfully, can decrease your risk for injury.
  4. Stretching regularly can help improve circulation and digestion.
  5. Stretching on a routine basis can help reduce or eliminate chronic pain.

Where To Begin:

Find exercises:
Familiarize yourself with a few stretches for each area of your body that feel appropriate. Certain positions will be more accessible to you than others.

Learn different types of stretching:
There are different types of stretching. For example, dynamic stretching refers to moving stretches while static stretching refers to holding a position for a period of time. It can be very helpful to learn different types of stretching. Read my blog post about dynamic and static stretching.

For Best Results:

Stretch your full body:
Stretching your lower body, midsection and upper body is advised.

  • Make it a habit:
  • -Stretch before and after long periods of sitting.
  • -Dynamic stretch before and after a workout.
  • -Static stretch after and between workouts.
  • -Stretch at least 4x a week for 10 minutes.
  • -You can chose a few body parts each session to focus on.

Stretch often:
Schedule your stretch period during a time of day that you can easily commit to on a regular basis.

Be Mindful: Breathe calmly and stay relaxed while stretching. Listen to your body and don’t force anything.

Now Lets Stretch!

CALVES

  • Location: Back of your lower leg
  • Function: Plantar flexes the foot during walking, running and jumping
  • Common Reasons for Tightness: Sitting for long periods, wearing heels and overuse during athletic activities

Your calf is composed of 2 powerful muscles: the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. When either become tight, your risk for injury goes up. Tight calves are linked to calf strain, achilles injuries, plantar fasciitis, and knee pain.

Stretching your calves can improve ankle mobility, help prevent lower leg and foot injuries and improve circulation.

There are many ways to stretch your calves, here is one example:

“HANDS ON THE FLOOR” CALF STRETCH
Stretching your calves with your hands on the floor lengthens your calves and hamstrings.

Tip 1. Push through the palms of your hands.
Tip 2. Keep your spine long.
Tip 3. Breathe calmly and stay relaxed.
Tip 4. Stay in this position, pedaling your heels for 30 secs to 1 minute.

To see more stretches for your calves, watch the video below.

QUADRICEPS

  • Location: Front of your thighs
  • Function: Extends the knee and helps flex the hip
  • Common Reasons for Tightness: Sitting for long periods, athletic activities the involve repetitive hip flexion.

Your quadriceps are a group of 4 muscles that function to extend your knee and flex your hip. When your quadriceps become tight, your hips and knees are less efficient. Tight quadriceps are linked to lower back, hip and knee pain.

Stretching your adductors can help improve hip mobility and reduce hip, knee and groin pain.

Here is one way to stretch your adductors:

KNEELING QUAD STRETCH
Stretching your quads in a kneeling position is a great beginner stretch for tight quads.

Tip 1. You can place your hand on your font thigh to help balance.
Tip 2. Breathe calmly and stay relaxed.
Tip 3. Stay for 30 seconds each side.

To see more stretches for your quads, watch the video below.

HAMSTRINGS

  • Location: Back of thighs.
  • Function: Extend the hip, flex the knee and medially rotate the lower leg in bent knee position. 
  • Common Reasons for Tightness: Sitting for long periods and explosive movements like sprinting.

Your hamstrings are susceptible to injury without a proper warm up. Tight hamstrings are linked to hamstring strain, and lower back pain.

Stretching your hamstrings can help improve lower back and hip mobility and reduce lower back pain.

Below is one way to stretch your hamstrings:

WALKING HAMSTRING STRETCH
Walking high kick is a dynamic stretch that is often used to warm up.

Tip 1. Stay tall.
Tip 2. Kick as high as you can in a controlled manner.
Tip 3. Exhale as you kick.
Tip 4. Walk 20 yards.

To see more stretches for your hamstrings, watch the video below.

ADDUCTORS

  • Location: Inner thighs, groin area.
  • Function: Bring your thighs together.
  • Common Reasons for Tightness: Sitting for long periods, overuse during sports that involve the groin.

Your adductors are a group of muscles that function to bring your legs toward each other. Tight adductors are linked to groin strain, lower back pain, and hip pain.

Stretching your adductors can help improve hip mobility and reduce your risk for injury.

Below is one way to stretch your adductors:

BUTTERFLY STRETCH
Stretching your calves with your hands on the floor lengthens your calves and hamstrings.

Tip 1. Bring the soles of your feet together and pull your knees toward the floor.
Tip 2. Sit tall and breathe calmly.
Tip 3. Stay for at least 30 seconds.

To see more stretches for your adductors, watch the video below.

GLUTES

  • Location: Buttocks
  • Function: Extend, abduct and externally rotate your hips
  • Common Reasons for Tightness: Sitting for long periods, intense activity (sprinting, jumping)

Your glutes are a powerful group of muscles. When your glutes become tight, your posture is influenced and your back becomes more vulnerable to injury. Tight glutes are linked to buttock pain, lower back pain, and hip pain.

Stretching your glutes can help improve posture and reduce your risk for injury.

Below is one way to stretch your glutes:

SEATED SPINAL TWIST STRETCH
This position targets your glutes while also stretching your back.

Tip 1. Keep your spine tall.
Tip 2. Breathe calmly and stay relaxed.
Tip 3. Stay for 30 seconds.

To see more stretches for your glutes, watch the video below.

SIDE TRUNK

  • Location: Side Torso, Abdomen
  • Function: Flexes, twist and side bends the trunk of the body 
  • Common Reasons for Tightness: Sitting for long periods, overuse from sports that involve a lot of rotation.

When your torso becomes tight, your risk for back pain and injury goes up. A mobile torso helps us move more efficiently with a supported spine.

Below is one way to stretch the side of your trunk:

Side Bend Stretch with Straps
Side bending with straps lengthens your side.

Tip 1. Keep your feet firmly planted and spine tall.
Tip 2. Anchor your hips as you side bend.
Tip 3. Do 10 reps.

To see more stretches for your torso, watch the video below.

BACK

  • Location: Posterior side of the trunk.
  • Function: Supports the spine and pulls the shoulder blades back.
  • Common Reasons for Tightness:Stress, sitting for long periods, heavy weight lifting

When your back becomes tight,  your posture is effected and your spine is more vulnerable to injury. A mobile back helps us move more efficiently with a supported spine.

Stretching your back can help soothe discomfort, improve trunk mobility and reduce risk for injury.

Below is one way to stretch your back:

Supine Knees To Chest
This position can help relieve tension in your lower back.

Tip 1. Breathe calmly as you hug your knees to your chest.
Tip 2. Keep your chin level.
Tip 3. Stay for at least 30 seconds.

To see more stretches for your back, watch the video below.

SHOULDERS

  • Location: Attaches the arms to the body, lies across the top of the chest and back
  • Function: Move your arms and shoulder blades
  • Common Reasons for Tightness: Stress, sitting for long periods, heavy weight lifting

Stress is a common cause for tight shoulders. Forward head posture, neck pain and shoulder pain can all be signs of tight shoulders.

Stretching your shoulders can help improve range of motion and reduce neck, chest and shoulder pain.

Below is one way to stretch your shoulders:

Shoulder Flossing
Yoga straps are a useful tool for opening up your shoulders.

Tip 1. Breathe calmly as you raise your arms overhead and behind you.
Tip 2. Bring your arms overhead, evenly.
Tip 3. You can place your hands wider to make to motion easier.
Tip 4. Do 10 Reps.

To see more stretches for your shoulders, watch the video below.

WRISTS

  • Location: Connects hand to forearm
  • Function: Allows your hand to move in all directions. 
  • Common Reasons for Tightness: Computer time, driving.

When your wrists becomes tight, your forearm and hand movement becomes limited.

Stretching your forearms and wrists can improve range of motion and help reduce hand and forearm pain.

Below is one way to stretch your wrists:

Palm Down Forearm Stretch
Stretching with your fingers facing down stretches your wrists and forearms.

Tip 1. Breathe calmly as you stretch your palm facing down.
Tip 2. Keep you posture tall.
Tip 3. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

To see more stretches for your wrists, visit my blog on hand and wrist pain

Watch the video below to see me demonstrate 24 stretches!

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