Stretching exercises can be done anytime, anywhere and will give you more energy for your daily routine. They can also help relieve back and neck pain by increasing range of motion and promoting muscle relaxation.
One of the mistakes that gym-goers make is not stretching before and after a workout. The body needs to understand that it is leaving a resting state and moving. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare it for a greater effort with light movements before starting and to reserve the last minutes of your workout to relax the muscles.
But stretching is not just this “little stretch” before and after exercise. It is one of the most effective and practical exercises. Fitness centers already offer special classes in this modality, but stretching exercises can also be done at home or at work.
Many people start stretching with the idea of correcting their posture, but this is not the only benefit of this modality. Good stretching helps to release tension, restore energy, increase muscle flexibility and improve balance.
Those who practice stretching also find it easier to perform everyday tasks that require stretching the body and moving the muscles, such as walking up and down stairs, changing a car tire, cleaning the house, or playing with the children.
Quick stretching exercises you can do at home or in the office
1. Stretch Neck Side Muscles
Muscles highlighted: Sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius. From a seated position, with your back straight and your left arm supporting you, tilt your head to the left and try to touch your ear with your shoulder. Repeat in the opposite direction.
2. Front Neck Muscles Stretch
Muscles highlighted: Sternocleidomastoid muscle. Place your hands on your hips, straighten your back and begin to gently tilt your head back. To stretch was stronger, you can help yourself with your hands by placing your hands on your forehead.
3. Pectoral Stretch
Muscles highlighted: Pectorals and Lats. Stand facing wall and slowly turn away from wall while placing right hand on wall. Repeat with opposite hand.
4. Camel Pose
Muscles highlighted: Rectus abdominus and external obliques. This stretch is best reserved for people who already have good flexibility. Sit on your heels and place your hands behind you as you push your hips up and forward. Avoid putting too much pressure on your lumbar spine. If you have neck problems, don’t let your head fall back.
5. Neck and Back Muscles Stretch
Muscles highlighted: Trapezius. Start by standing with feet together. Keeping your spine long, slowly sit your hips back and round your upper back, tucking your chin into your chest.
6. Shoulder Side Stretch
Muscles highlighted: Side Deltoid. Straighten your arm across your body and gently press with your other hand to increase the stretch. Repeat with opposite hand.
7. Triangle Pose
Muscles highlighted: Work your external obliques. Start with a wide stance, front foot straight and rear 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 on the Wall
Muscles highlighted: Pectorals and Latissimus Dorsi. Stand far enough away from a wall or rack so that your body is parallel to the floor when you touch the wall. Move into this position by hanging from your hips and keeping your spine straight.
Once in position, push your chest forward, creating a slight arch in your upper back and stretching your lats and pectorals. If your hamstrings are tight, try bending at the knees.
9. Bend Forward
Muscles highlighted: Work the hamstrings. Begin this position with one foot in front of the other. Bring your hands to your hips and, keeping your back straight, begin to bend from the hips. Repeat with the other foot in front.
10. Side Bends with Support
Muscles highlighted: External obliques and lats. With your spine straight, slowly push your hips out to the side while keeping your shoulders externally rotated. Repeat on the other side. Avoid this stretch if you have lower back problems.
11. Glutes Stretch
Muscles highlighted: Work your glutes. Starting from a seated position, slowly pull your leg toward your chest and rotate your hip outward while keeping your spine straight. Repeat with the opposite leg.
12. Butterfly Pose
Muscles highlighted: Stretch highlights the adductors. Begin in a seated position, bringing the soles of your feet together and sitting upright through your sit bones. Continue this stretch by pressing down on your knees with your hands.
The closer your feet are to your body, the more you’ll stretch your groin muscles. Move your feet away from your hips and slowly rotate your torso to release your back muscles.
13. Sitting Pigeon Pose
Muscles highlighted: Work your anterior tibialis. Start 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 extension of the hip, slowly lean forward, starting the movement by hinging at the hip. Repeat with the left leg.
14. Seated Forward Bend
Muscles highlighted: Work your glutes, hamstrings and calves. Sit on floor and keep legs straight and together. With your legs pressed to the floor, slowly bend your torso forward.
15. Spinal Twist
Muscles highlighted: Glutes and external obliques. This is a great stretch for those trying to manage sciatica. Lie down on the floor. Bend your right knee and move your leg over your body to the left. Gently press with your hand to increase the stretch. Repeat with the other leg.
16. Wide Forward Fold
Muscles highlighted: Abductors and Hamstrings. This is a great exercise to open the hips and stretch the abductors and hamstrings. Sit on the floor and spread your legs wide. Don’t bend your knees and keep your legs on the floor. Bend forward by sliding your arms over your shins and pulling your torso behind you.
17. Child 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 semi-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 rear foot and squeeze your rear buttock to increase the stretch on your hip flexors.
How to stretch correctly
Muscle stretching exercises should be performed before and after physical activity, and may be prescribed by a physical therapist as a form of treatment to improve muscle flexibility and prevent and treat muscle and joint pain.
While stretching, it is normal to feel the muscle stretch, but it is important not to force it too much to avoid damaging the spine. Each position should be held for 20 to 30 seconds, then the movement should be repeated 3 times; or the position can be held for 1 minute at a time.
In case of pain, it is advisable to have a consultation with a physiotherapist for more appropriate treatment.