Weightlifting, running and long periods of sitting can lead to shortened and tight muscles. This can in turn reduce flexibility and increase the chances of suffering a muscle pull or tear. To keep your muscles lengthened and flexible, perform stretches that target your whole body. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, properly performed stretching exercises can aid in improving and maintaining range of motion in a joint or a series of joints. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and perform four to five repetitions.
The chest muscles are known as the pectorals. Any time your upper arms moves across the front of your body, your pecs contract. To stretch these muscles, the exact opposite motion needs to be performed. From a seated position on the end of a weight bench, sit up straight, clasp your hands behind your lower back and push your shoulder blades together. This same stretch can be done from a standing position.
Another way to stretch your chest is inside an open doorway. Bend your right elbow 90 degrees, place your forearm against the door jamb and apply forward pressure with your right shoulder. Hold and repeat with your other side. When doing this stretch, make sure your upper arm parallels the floor.
The deltoids are the muscles on the outsides of the shoulders. To stretch these muscles, move your right arm across your chest, hook the elbow of your left arm around the elbow of your right arm and pull in. Hold for your desired time frame and switch sides.
The latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius and erector spinae are back muscles that can be stretched with four different movements -- flexion, extension, rotation and lateral flexion. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides, bend forward, try to touch your toes and hold. This is flexion. To do extension, stand in the same position as flexion, place your hands on your hips and slowly bend backwards while keeping your lower body still. To do rotation, stand in the same starting position as extension and rotate your upper body as far to each side as possible, holding each position for your desired length of time. To do lateral flexion, place your arms at your sides and bend laterally as far as possible to each side. One final way to stretch your back muscles is to hang from a pull-up bar with your arms fully extended.
Tris and Bis
The triceps are the large muscles on the back of the upper arms and the biceps are the muscles on the front. To stretch the triceps, place your right hand flat on your upper back as if you were patting yourself, grab your elbow with your left hand and pull your arm toward your left side. After holding for your desired time frame, release the pressure and repeat with the other side.
To stretch the biceps, stand with your back to a wall, reach back and place your hands shoulder-width apart on it and turn your fingers in at an angle and hold. When doing this, bend forward slightly at the hips and keep your arms straight.
The quadriceps are the muscles on the front of the thighs and you can stretch them with a standing stretch. Lift your right foot off the floor and bend your knee so your lower leg is behind your body. Carefully grasp your right ankle with your right hand and pull straight up until your heel is by your butt. Hold for your desired time frame and switch sides.
The high lunge is a yoga pose that stretches the groins, calves and hamstrings in one fell swoop. Step your right foot forward, lower your chest down on your thigh and place your hands on the floor, outside of your right foot. Keeping a straight line from your shoulders to your left heel, lean forward slightly and feel the stretch in the back of your legs. Hold for your desired time frame and switch sides. When doing this stretch, make sure your front knee does not go past your toes.