Stretching is essential for your body's health. It improves flexibility, increases range of motion, and can even prevent injury. By stretching the muscles in the eight major areas of your body, you can get an all-over body stretch that will keep you supple and strong. Use static or stationary stretches that you hold for 30 seconds each, and stretch at the end of your workout for the best gains. Make sure to stretch both sides equally.
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Your body's major muscles can be divided into eight groups: shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, back, butt, thighs and calves. The major muscles in your shoulders are your deltoids and trapezius muscles. In your arms, you have biceps on the front of your upper arm and triceps on the back. Your pectoral muscles are located in your chest, and your rectus abdominis and oblique muscles are in your abdomen. Your back is home to three muscles: erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, and rhomboids. Your glutes comprise the muscles of your butt, your hamstrings and quadriceps are the muscles in your thighs, and your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are in your calves.
In a standing position, stretch your shoulders by extending one straight arm across your chest and placing your other hand on your forearm to pull the arm closer to you. Next extend your straight arm out in front of you with your fingers pointing down and your palm facing away from you. Gently stretch your fingers toward your body to stretch your biceps. Lift your arm up and bend it behind your head with your fingers pointing down between your shoulder blades. Use your other hand to pull on your elbow stretching your triceps muscles. Finally, find a partner to stand behind you and grab both of your forearms pulling them together to stretch your pectoralis muscles.
Abdomen and Back
Start kneeling with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Round your back up toward the ceiling, stretching the muscles of your back. Next arch your back, letting your belly button droop toward the floor to stretch your abdominal muscles. Lie flat on the ground and pull your knees into your chest. Hold them here to stretch your erector spinae muscles before lowering your knees to one side. Stretch your opposite arm out to the opposite side and look out over your arm to stretch your obliques.
Again on your feet, extend one straight leg in front of you and lean your chest toward your leg, stretching your hamstrings and gluteus muscles. Balance on one foot, bending your other leg and pulling that foot into your rear to stretch your quadriceps muscles. Finally, face a wall and place both hands on it. Extend one straight leg behind you with its heel pressed into the ground. Lean into the wall to stretch your gastrocnemius muscle. Repeat the stretch with a bent back leg to focus on your soleus muscle.
Is This an Emergency?
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- Sports Injury Clinic: Standing Hamstring Stretch
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- Sports Injury Clinic: Gastrocnemius Stretch
- Sports Injury Clinic: Soleus Stretch