All aspects of your workout is subject to monotony — even stretches. If you've found yourself getting bored with your cooldown or rest day routine, it's time to switch things up. You don't have to come up with a brand new stretch for each muscle; sometimes all you have to do is change your position.
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For example, you can change a stretch from standing to lying down. Another simple swap is to change a two-limb stretch to a single-limb stretch, focusing on one side of the body at a time. If you decide to try something new, just remember to go slowly and stop if something hurts. Stretching should help you avoid injury, not cause it.
You can also try the following 20-minute stretching routine any time you're feeling a little tight or sore from an intense workout. Roll out your yoga mat and do this circuit three times through to show your muscles some love!
Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.
1. Kneeling Quad Stretch
Unless you have amazing balance, the most common quad stretch — the standing quad stretch — can be a tough one to master. You have to stand on one leg while grabbing and stretching the other. But you can make things simpler by taking it to the floor.
- Begin in a lunge with your back knee, shin and foot on the floor.
- Reach behind you and lift your back foot off the floor. Pull it toward your butt as far as you can without pain.
- Keep your torso tall, put your free hand on your hip or front knee, and lean back to feel the stretch more.
- Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
If you have knee pain, roll up your yoga mat or put a pillow under your knee.
2. Supine Hamstring Stretch
One of the most commonly injured muscles among athletes is the hamstring, according to a May 2016 study published in Current Sports Medical Reports. Instead of stretching both hamstrings at the same time in a standing toe touch, try stretching them one at a time so that one side isn't limiting the other.
- Lie on your back with your legs extended along the floor.
- Grab one leg by your thigh and pull it toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. The other leg should be flat on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Switch legs and hold for an additional 30 seconds.
3. 90/90 Hip Stretch
Pigeon pose is commonly used to stretch the hips and glutes. However, if you have knee pain or simply feel uncomfortable getting into position, try the 90/90 hip stretch instead.
- Sit on the ground and put your hands behind you for support.
- Bend your knees and plant your feet on the ground as wide apart as possible.
- Twist your body to the left, but keep your heels down.
- Lower your knees to the left until the outside of your left knee and inside of your right knee are pressed into the ground.
- Lean forward over your left leg and hold for 30 seconds.
- When you're done, twist your body to the right and flip your legs so that the outside of your right knee is flat on the ground, then lean forward over your right leg.
4. Lunge and Twist
Few feelings are more gratifying when you're stretching than cracking your back. However, it's difficult to find twisting motions that are safe for your spine. Standing and twisting can be dangerous because it's easy to turn too far. Instead, do the lunge and twist, which limits your range of motion by incorporating a hip stretch.
- Start by taking a large step forward with your left foot and bend your knee to 90 degrees.
- Plant your left hand on the ground on the outside of your left foot. Then, reach your right hand up toward the ceiling, slowly turning your shoulders and head to follow the arm.
- Hold for 15 seconds, then switch to twist the opposite way, holding for another 15 seconds.
- Once you're done on the left side, step forward with your right leg and repeat.
5. Standing Wall Slide
If your shoulders are slumped forward (like when you've sat at a desk all day), try the standing wall slide. It pulls your shoulders back and stretches your chest better than the popular doorway chest stretch.
- Start by sitting or standing in front of a wall (or lying on the ground). Sit/stand tall so that your entire spine, both shoulders and the back of your head are flat against the wall.
- Lift your arms and press them back against the wall with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.
- Slide your arms up as high as you can without lifting your back, shoulders or head off the wall.
- Then pull your arms back down.
- Continue lifting and lowering for 30 seconds.
6. Quadruped Forearm Stretch
If you're constantly clicking a mouse, gripping a barbell or working with your hands all day, your forearm muscles can tighten. Instead of standing around stretching your forearm by grabbing your hand and pulling it back, make the stretch more active by starting in a quadruped position.
- Get on your hands and knees. Make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Start with your fingers facing out to the sides, pointing away from each other.
- Keeping your hands flat on the ground, rock your shoulders to the left and right, stretching your forearms.
- Keep rocking for 30 seconds.
If this is too easy, rotate your arms until your fingers point backward. Keep your hands flat on the ground and gently sit your butt back to your heels.
7. Puppy Pose With Twist
One of the most relaxing poses in yoga — Child's pose — is a favorite stretch for many. Puppy pose with a twist, however, might be your new favorite.
- Start on all fours with your knees under your hips.
- Extend your right arm out in front of you as you slide your left arm under your body, twisting your torso to the right.
- Hold for 30 seconds before switching to the other side.
8. Bench Lat Stretch
Sean Light, a former strength coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, believes that lat stretches are some of the best exercises you can do in a gym. Tight lats can pull your shoulders out of place and even restrict your breathing, Light says, so make sure you stretch them properly.
- Stand in front of a bench, couch or chair and grab the back with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
- Step your feet back and bend at the waist so that your upper and lower body forms a right angle.
- Press your torso toward the ground so that you feel a stretch across your upper back.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then release.
9. Frog Stretch
The seated butterfly stretch is a very natural movement. Sometimes, it's even comfortable to sit in that position with your feet touching and knees out to the side. It's also a stretch for your inner-thigh muscles. But if this stretch has lost its effectiveness, try the frog stretch.
- Start in a quadruped position with your hands and knees on the ground.
- Move your knees slightly apart, then move your butt back toward your heels.
- Come back up to the quadruped position, then move your knees out slightly and move your butt back again.
- Repeat for 30 seconds, moving your knees out slightly each time, until you feel a stretch in your inner thighs. Alternatively, you can hold the knees-apart position.