Stretching can be a key part of your exercise regimen. Stretching may increase flexibility and improve the range of motion of your joints. Before stretching, warm up with five to 10 minutes of light activity. Better yet, reserve stretching for after a workout. Keep stretching gentle. Don't bounce. If you feel pain, you've stretched too far. Hold a stretch for about 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. If you have a problem area or the stretch is particularly helpful for pain or discomfort, you may benefit from repeating the stretch. If you have any health conditions or injuries, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about which stretches are right for you.
Your calf muscle runs along the back of your lower leg. To stretch your calf muscles:
Your hamstring muscle runs along the back of your upper leg. To stretch your hamstring muscles:
Your quadriceps muscle runs along the front of your thigh. To stretch your quadriceps muscles:
Your hip flexors — which allow you to lift your knees and bend at the waist — are located on your upper thighs, just below your hipbones. To stretch your hip flexors:
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a band of tissue that runs along the outside of your hip, thigh and knee. To stretch your ITB:
The knee-to-chest stretch focuses on the muscles of your lower back. Don't do this stretch if you have osteoporosis because it may increase the risk of compression fractures in your vertebrae.
To do this stretch:
If the back of your shoulder is tight, you may be more likely to develop rotator cuff problems — especially if you golf or participate in overhead racket or throwing sports, such as tennis or baseball. To keep your shoulders flexible:
Your shoulder's internal rotators are part of the group of muscles often used in overhead sports. To stretch these muscles:
To stretch your neck:
Stretching the muscles in your upper back can promote good posture. To stretch these muscles: