34 Pictures That Are Showing You Exactly Which Muscles You Are Stretching

Each of us knows that exercising is good for maintaining good health and well-built body. But did you know that there’s something you need to do before and after exercising for even better results. You should always stretch your muscles.

Why is Stretching Good for the Body?

You must be aware that by stretching you warm-up your muscles and that way the chances that you’ll injure yourself by pulling a muscle during exercising are much lower. Stretching before and after exercising also promotes blood flow to the muscles and increases their flexibility. The more flexible the body the better it will perform the activities and you’ll exercise with the correct form, so stretching improves posture as well.

You can feel a slight burn in your muscles while stretching, but still you can’t know exactly which muscles the stretch is actually affecting.

Go carefully through these 34 poses, and choose which stretches are best for you according to your body type. While stretching you need to focus on your breathing, and move through the exercises as loosely as possible.

It can take about 5-30 seconds for your muscles to relax and return to their natural position, so take your time, breathe through it and help your body to achieve the healing process.

  1. Hearth Opening Pose

Muscles which are stretched: Rectus Abdominus and External Obliques.

This pose is also known as “camel pose”. Do this stretch to clear your heart and throat centers. This exercise is appropriate for those with good flexibility.

How to do it:

  • Come down on your knees. Place the knees hip-width apart, body upright.
  • Support your lower back with your hands while pushing your hips forward.
  • Drop your head back in slow motion and carefully reach for your feet if your hips remain pushed forward. Don’t put your hands back on your feet if your hips fall back. Avoid putting too much pressure on your lumbar spine.
  • When you are in full position, continue pushing your chest up into the air.

Note: Be careful not to perform the camel pose if you have a low back or neck injury.1-2

  1. Wide Forward Fold

Muscles which are stretched: Adductors and Hamstrings

This is an excellent stretch that helps you open the hips.

How to do it:

  • Sit on your bum, bend your knees and place your feet aligned with your groin.
  • Hold your spine straight and breathe slowly.
  • As your muscles begin to relax, gently lower your chest and reach out for your feet.
  • Pull on the bottom balls of your feet until you feel the stretch in your calf muscles.

Note: If you haven’t done this exercise before, don’t worry if you can’t reach your feet. Keep your hands on your calf muscles at first. 

  1. Frog Pose

Muscles which are stretched: Adductors.

Stretch your groins by doing this deep stretch.

How to do it:        

  • Start by resting your hands and knees on a yoga mat or another soft surface.
  • Widen your knees as much as you can, until you feel resistance in your groin and upper thigh.
  • Gently push your hips backward or forward to deepen the stretch.

3-4

  1. Wide Side Lunge Pose

Muscles which are stretched: Adductors.

This pose is great for stretching leg muscles.

How to do it:        

  • First put both your feet forward in a wide stance and hold your legs as straight as you can.
  • Slowly walk your hands to your right and bend your right knee while rotating your left toes up to the ceiling, sitting in your right hip.
  • Make sure to keep your right foot flat on the ground
  1. Butterfly Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Adductors

This pose is excellent for stretching the inner thighs and will also loosen up your lower back muscles.

How to do it:

  • Sit down in a comfortable position and bring the soles of your feet together.            
  • Apply some pressure on your knees with your hands and elbows (that way you’ll deepen your stretch).
  • Keep your feet as closer as you can, to achieve deeper stretch.
  • Once you feel a good stretch, move your feet away from your hips and bend forward as much as you can.

5-6

6. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Forearm Extensor

How to do it:

  • Begin by standing up with your shoulders and back straight.
  • Then roll your shoulders backwards to open up your chest and stretch your arms out in front of you.
  • Put your right hand over your left hand and apply pressure.
  • Your left hand should bend at the wrist and you should feel pressure in the forearm.

7. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck

Muscles which are stretched: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”

To do this exercise successfully, look forward and don’t let your chin drop down.

How to do it:            

  • Slowly bend your neck towards your left shoulder, without lifting up your shoulder.
  • Make sure that your neck is straight and in line with the spine

Note: A more advanced variation of this exercise would be to sit on a chair and hold the bottom of the seat with both hands.6-7

8. Neck Rotation Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”

Do this stretch to relax your stiff neck.

How to do it:

  • Begin by rotating your neck slowly to your left, while keeping your chin a bit elevated.
  • Use your left arm to apply pressure on the right side of your chin.

9. Neck Extension Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”

How to do it:

  • Put your hands on your hips and stand up straight keeping your spine straight.
  • Gently tilt your head backwards, ensuring that you are not collapsing your cervical spine.

9-10

10. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck with Hands Assistance

Muscles which are stretched: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM” and Upper Trapezius

How to do it:

  • Stand still and keep your neck straight.
  • Slowly bend your neck towards your left shoulder.

Note: You can make the stretch deeper by sitting on a chair and holding onto the seat with your right arm.

  1. Half Kneeling Quad/Hip Flexor Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Psoas and Quadriceps

How to do it:

  • Start this pose kneeling on the floor.
  • Then bring your left hip forward, supporting yourself by placing your left foot in front of you.
  • You should feel a stretch in your hip because your weight is on your left foot.
  • Put your right hand on your right foot and bring the foot towards you.
  • Hold in this position for at least a minute if you can.

11-12

 12. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Forearm Extensor

How to do it:

  • Stand straight and roll your shoulders backwards to open up your chest and stretch your arms in front of you.
  • Once in this position, place your right hand over your left hand to apply pressure.
  • Your left hand should be bend in the wrist and you will feel pressure in your forearm.

Note: If you want to stretch your shoulders bring your arms above your head holding in the same position.

13. Lateral Shoulder Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Side Deltoid

How to do it:

  • Stand straight and put your left hand on your right shoulder or vice versa.
  • Slowly pull it across your chest until you feel the gentle stretch.

13-14

 14. Standing Assisted Neck Flexion Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Trapezius Muscle

This is an excellent stretch to relax the muscles in the back of the neck and shoulders, places where we hold a lot of tension.

How to do it:

  • Stand on the ground and put your feet together.
  • Slowly sit the hips back, while ensuring that the spine is prolonged.
  • Round your neck, pushing your chin into the chest as much as you can.

15. Lat Stretch With Spinal Traction

Muscles which are stretched: Latissimus Dorsi

How to do it:                   

  • To do this exercise you need a wall bar, or something that will do its function.
  • Grip the tallest bar and start lifting your feet off the ground.
  • You should feel the stretch in your chest and lats, and if you lift your feet completely off the ground you’ll also feel a stretch in your lumbar spine.

Note: Do not do this exercise if you suffer from any type of shoulder pain.15-16

16. Lat Stretch at the Wall

Muscles which are stretched: Latissimus Dorsi

With this exercise you’ll stretch the right side of your chest and hips.

How to do it:

  • Put your hands on the corner of a wall or post.
  • Hold the corner on the left side and slowly pull your body to the right.

17. Child’s Pose

Muscles which are stretched: Latissimus Dorsi

How to do it:

  • Sit down on the ground with your hands and knees on the floor.
  • Sit backward on your legs slowly pushing your forehead forward towards the ground.
  • To get maximum from the stretch, keep your knees wide apart.
  • Place your upper back in arch shape, and then externally rotate your shoulder to stretch your chest and lat muscles.

18. Standing Calf Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Soleus and Gastrocnemius.17-18

How to do it:           

  • Stand straight near a stair step or wall with your legs shoulder’s width apart.
  • Put your toes onto the step and keep your back as straight as you can.

Note: To enhance this exercise, turn your toes slightly outward or inward to engage different muscles in your calves.

19. Front Split

Muscles which are stretched: Psoas and Hamstring

How to do it:

  • Start in a position of kneeling lunge, slowly lowering your hips to the ground.
  • Support yourself with your hands on either side of your body.
  • If you start feeling pain, stop doing the exercise immediately.
  • You can also support yourself on a chair while your hip flexors and hamstrings release.

Note: If you haven’t done yoga or stretching before, then this exercise is a bit of a challenge for you so don’t do it.19-20

20. Seated Forward Fold / Seated Toe Touch

Muscle which are stretched: Hamstrings and Calfs.

How to do it:

  • Sit onto your bum with your legs stretched in front of you.
  • Bend slowly and try to reach your toes.
  • If you can’t touch your toes at first, bend your legs a little and grip your feet.
  • Extend your legs slowly until you feel a stretch in the muscles under your legs.

21. Single Leg Forward Bend

Muscles which are stretched: Hamstrings.

How to do it:        

  • Stand with your feet positioned one in front of the other.
  • Keep your back straight and put your hands on your hips.
  • Start bending from the hips and lift the toes of your front foot towards the ceiling.

21-22

 22. Deep Squat

Muscle which are stretched: Glutes.

This exercise is helpful for many body parts. 

How to do it:

  • Starts by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and slowly lower into the deep squat.
  • Hold your weight on your hips and heels.
  • Once you get into the deep squat position, place your arms in front of you inside your legs and put some pressure to the inside of your knees.

Note: You can also do this exercise lying on the back with your feet against a wall.

23. Seated Half King Pigeon Pose

Muscle which are stretched: Glutes.

How to do it:

  • Begin in a seated position with your legs in front of you.
  • Slowly pull your leg towards your chest and rotate your hip outward, meanwhile keeping your spine straight.

Note: You should feel this stretch in the glute.23-24

24. Standing Calf Stretch at the Wall

Muscle which are stretched: Soleus and Gastrocnemius.

How to do it:

  • Stand in front of a wall in a lunge position.
  • Lift the back of your foot and then gradually lower that foot towards the floor to stretch your calf muscles.

25. Lateral Flexion at the Wall

Muscles which are stretched: External Obliques.

How to do it:                                            

  • Stand straight, keeping your spine long and slowly push your hips to the outside.

Note: If you have problems with your lower back, don’t do this stretch.25-26

26. Supine Twist

Muscles which are stretched: Glutes and External Obliques.

If you suffer from sciatica pain and you are trying to get rid of it then this is the right stretch for you.

How to do it:

  • Lie flat on your back with your arms on your side.
  • Bring your left leg across your body and hold your left knee with your right hand.
  • Take deep breaths to really open up your rib cage, sacroiliac joint and hip area.
  • If this is too hard for you, hold your knees together- this way you’ll feel the stretch more in the upper spine when the knees are higher, and more in the lumbar spine when the knees are lower.

27. Lateral Flexion with a Dowel

Muscles which are stretched: External Obliques and Latissimus Dorsi.

How to do it:

  • Stand straight with your hands above your head.
  • Hold your hands about a shoulder’s width apart holding a stick or a towel.
  • Gradually push your hips out to the side and keep your shoulder rolled back.

Note: If you have issues with your lower back, do not do this stretch.27-28

28. Triangle Pose

Muscles which are stretched: External Obliques.

How to do it:

  • Stand with your legs far apart- the left should be straight in front of you and the right behind your at a 90 0
  • Put your left hand on the leg in front of you and bend forward, keeping your back straight.
  • Spread your arm toward the ceiling and slightly rotate your body, while looking up.
  • Eventually, you can do this stretch by bending your foot that is at 90 degree angle so that you are in a lunge almost, with hips facing forward.

29. Chest Stretch at the Wall

Muscles which are stretched: Pectorals.

How to do it:

  • Stand facing a wall and place your right palm on the wall with the thumb towards the ceiling.
  • Gradually rotate your body away from the wall. You should feel the stretch in your chest and belly.
  • Repeat on the other side.

29-30

30. Assisted Chest Stretch

Muscles which are stretched: Chest and Latissimus Dorsi.

How to do it:

  • You’ll need a partner to do this stretch. Lie down on the floor and hold your palms face up.
  • Your partner should be in squat position a little behind where your head is rested. The partner needs to hold your hands and gently pull them away from you. You’ll feel the stretch in your chest and lats and some in your spine.

Note: If your shoulder has dislocated recently, don’t do this stretch.

31. Seated Half Pigeon Variation

Muscles which are stretched: Anterior Tibialis.

How to do it:

  • Sit with your feet placed in front of you.
  • Fold your right leg, bending at the knee so that your right ankle rests on your left knee.
  • Put your right hand behind you and slowly bend forward.
  • You can also rotate your body to the left to stretch your back.

31-32

32. Supine Shoulder External Rotation Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Subscapularis.

How to do it:

  • Lie flat on your back and place your arm beside your body at 90 0
  • Your forearm should not touch the floor.
  • Gradually push the forearm towards the floor above your head.

Note: If you can’t do this stretch then your rotator cuff and other muscles that control rotation are too tight and you need to loosen them up by breathing or massage.

33. Down Dog Variation at the Wall

Muscles which are stretched: Pectorals and Latissimus Dorsi.

How to do it:

  • Stand in front of a wall.
  • Make sure to be so far that when you touch the wall your body is parallel to the ground.
  • Lower yourself into this position by rotating your hips and keeping your spine straight at all times.
  • Move your chest forward and make a slight arch in the upper back and stretch your lats and chest muscles.

33-34

34. Assisted Chest Stretch Variation

Muscles which are stretched: Pectorals.

How to do it:

  • You’ll also need a partner for this exercise.
  • Begin with lying face-down in the floor.
  • Place your arms along your body with the palms face down.
  • Your partner should stand above you at hip height and pull your hands upwards and back.
  • You’ll feel the stretch in your chest muscles.

Note: If you suffer from shoulder pain or your shoulder dislocates easily, don’t do this stretch.

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