8 Relaxing Total Body Stretches

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Cardio and strength training, or some combination of the two, are the cornerstones of any solid workout program. But one of the most overlooked elements of a comprehensive program comes at the end of the workout—stretching.

Stretching is something you probably know you should be doing. It’s also the part of the workout that’s very easy to skip. You may think you don’t have time for it or don’t need it. But a stretch session is one of the best ways to end any workout.

Stretching when your muscles are warm has a number of benefits:

Builds greater overall flexibility

Relieves stress

Helps your body get back to its pre-exercise state

Gives your mind and body a chance to reflect on the workout you just did and feel its impact

May reduce post-exercise muscle soreness and stiffness

Try these stretching exercises to get rid of any extra tension you may be carrying around. See your doctor if you have any medical conditions, illnesses, or injuries that may affect your ability to stretch.

You will need a chair, exercise ball, or bench to sit on. Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio first, or do this after a workout or a bath when your muscles are warm.

Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat one to three times. Avoid any exercises that cause pain or discomfort and only stretch as deep as you can. The stretch should feel good and shouldn’t hurt. If your muscles are shaking, you need to back off a bit and let your muscles relax more.

1. Quad Stretch

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  1. Stand and hold onto a wall or the back of a chair for balance if needed.
  2. Grab the top of the left foot and bend your knee, bringing the foot towards the glutes, knee pointing straight at the floor. You should feel a stretch down the front of your leg.
  3. Squeeze your hips forward for a deeper stretch.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times per leg.

2. Standing Hamstring Stretch

  1. Take your left foot forward and tip from the hips, keeping the back flat.
  2. Lower down until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg.
  3. Rest the hands on the upper thighs to give your back some support. 
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times.

If you feel shaky or your hamstrings are tight, try using a resistance band to give you more leverage.

3. Chest and Shoulder Stretch

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  1. Sit or stand and clasp your hands together behind your back, arms straight.
  2. Lift your hands towards the ceiling, going only as high as is comfortable. You should feel a stretch in your shoulders and chest.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, repeating one to three times.

If your shoulders are a little tight, try just taking your arms behind you and out to the sides like an airplane.

4. Upper Back Stretch

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  1. Clasp your hands together in front of you and round your back, pressing your arms away from your body to feel a stretch in your upper back.
  2. Contract the abs to get the most out of this stretch.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, repeating one to three times.

5. Biceps Stretch

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  1. Take your arms out to the sides, slightly behind you, with your thumbs up, like a hitchhiker.
  2. Rotate your thumbs down and back until they are pointing to the back wall to stretch the biceps.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, repeating one to three times.

6. Shoulder Stretch

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  1. Take your right arm straight across your chest and curl the left hand around your elbow, gently pulling on the right arm to deepen the stretch in the shoulders.
  2. Try dropping the shoulder down if you’re not feeling a stretch.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times on each side.

7. Seated Side Stretch

  1. Sitting or standing, clasp your hands straight up overhead, palms facing the ceiling.
  2. Stretch up and then over to the right, feeling a stretch down your left side.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times.

8. Triceps Stretch

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  1. Bend your right elbow behind your head and use the right hand to gently pull the left elbow in further until you feel a stretch in your triceps.
  2. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times.

Source: Page P. Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitationInt J Sports Phys Ther. 2012;7(1):109-119.

Apostolopoulos N, Metsios GS, Flouris AD, Koutedaki Y, Wyon MA. The relevance of stretch intensity and position-a systematic reviewFront Psychol. 2015;6:1128. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01128

https://www.verywellfit.com/relaxing-total-body-stretches-1231150

Author: Devika

Devika, M.Sc, NET Qualified is passionate about helping people discover the power of nourishing real food. She specializes in weight management, therapeutic nutrition, food allergies and intolerances, inflammatory diseases, gut health, and functional nutrition. Her approach blends a conventional health care and nutrition background with natural and science-based therapies.