Stretching muscles is important not only to those who actively do sports but also to those who lead a sedentary life style, as it helps to you improve the range of motion of your joints, which in turn may aid improve your athletic performance and decrease your risk of injury.
Stretching before and after a workout are a great way to promote blood flow to the muscles and increase flexibility. But do you know what muscles you are stretching?
Here are 18 pictures that show you exactly what muscles you are stretching:
1. Neck side muscles Stretch
Muscles highlighted: Sternocleidomastoid muscle and upper trapezius. In the sitting position, straightening your back and helping with your left arm, tilt your head to the left, trying to touch your ear with your shoulder. Repeat the exercise in the opposite direction.
2. Neck front muscles Stretch
Muscles highlighted: Sternocleidomastoid muscle. Put your hands on your hips, straighten your back and start gently tilting your head back. To stretch was stronger, you can help yourself with your hands, putting your hands on your forehead.
3. Pectoral muscles Stretch
Muscles highlighted: Pectoral muscles and lats. Stand straight, facing the wall and, laying your right hand on it, slowly turn away from the wall. Repeat with the other hand.
4. Camel pose
Muscles highlighted: Rectus Abdominus and External Obliques. These stretch is best reserved for people who have good flexibility already. Sit on your heels and place your hands behind you as you push your hips up and forward. Avoiding putting too much pressure on your lumbar spine. If you’ve neck problems don’t drop your head back.
5. Neck back muscles Stretch
Muscles highlighted:Trapezius Muscle. Start by standing with you feet together. Keeping your spine long, slowly sit your hips back and round your upper back, tucking your chin to your chest at the same time.
6. Shoulder side Stretch
Muscles Highlighted: Side Deltoid. Straighten your arm across your body, and slightly press it with your other hand to intensify the stretch. Repeat the exercise with the other hand.
7. Triangle Pose
Muscles Highlighted: Work your external obliques. Start with a wide stance, your front foot straight ahead and your back foot at 90 degrees. Place your hand on your front leg or the floor as you sit back into your front hip, keeping your back straight.
8. Down Dog Variation At The Wall
Muscles Highlighted: Stretch your pectoralis and latissimus dorsi. Position yourself far enough from a wall or rack so that as you touch the wall your body becomes parallel to the ground. Move into this position by hinging at the hips and keeping your spine straight. Once in position, push your chest forward creating a slight arch in your upper back, stretching your lats and chest muscles. Whenever you’ve tight hamstrings try bending at the knees.
9. Leaning forward to one leg
Muscles Highlighted: Work the hamstrings. Begin these position with one foot in front of the other. Bring your hands to your hips and while keeping the back straight, begin to bend from the hips. Repeat the exercise with your other foot in front.
10. Side bends with support
Muscles Highlighted: Abdominal external oblique muscles and lats. With your spine long, slowly push your hips out to the side while keeping your shoulders externally rotated. Repeat the exercise to the other side. Avoid these stretch if you’ve lower back problems.
11. Glutes stretching
Muscles Highlighted: Work your glutes. Begin in a seated position slowly pull your leg to your chest and externally rotate your hip while keeping your spine straight. Repeat with the other leg.
12. Butterfly pose
Muscles Highlighted: Stretch highlights the adductors. Begin in a seated position and bring the soles of your feet together and sit tall through your sit bones. Progress this stretch by placing pressure on your knees with your hands. The closer your feet are to your body the more you’ll stretch your groin muscles. Bring your feet farther from your hips and slowly round your upper body to release your back muscles.
13. Sitting pigeon pose
Muscles Highlighted: Work your anterior tibialis. Begin by sitting with your feet in front of you. Bring one hand behind you as you externally rotate your hip and bring one foot above your knee. To increase the stretch on your hip slowly lean forward, initiating the movement by hinging at the hips. Repeat with your left leg.
14. Sitting forward bend
Muscles Highlighted: Work your posterior muscles, hamstrings, and calves. Sit on the floor, and keep your legs straight and together. With your legs pressed to the floor, slowly bend your upper body forward.
15. Spinal twist
Muscles Highlighted: Glutes and External Obliques. This is a great stretch for those trying to manage Sciatic Pain. Lie down on the floor. Bend your right knee, and move your leg to the left across your body. Press slightly with your hand to intensify the stretch. Repeat with your other leg.
16. Wide Forward Fold
Muscles highlighted: Adductor muscles and hamstrings. This is a great exercise to open the hips, and stretch the adductors and hamstrings. Sit down on the floor, and stretch your legs widely. Don’t bend your knees, and keep your legs on the floor. Bend forward by sliding your arms over your shins, and pull your upper body after them.
17. Child’s pose
Muscles Highlighted: Latissimus Dorsi. Get down on all fours, and slowly move your hips backward, trying to touch the floor with your forehead.
18. Hip Flexor Stretch
Muscles Highlighted: Psoas, iliacus, quadratus lumborum, and piriformis. Begin in a half-kneeling position. As you slowly bring your right hip forward you should begin to feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Grab your back foot and squeeze your back glute to increase the stretch on your Hip Flexors.
Important: do not forget to breathe normally and that stretching doesn’t cause any pain. Hold each position for 10-30 seconds.