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Ways to stretch

A girl stretching.

Stretching can help make you more flexible, so you can do activities more easily. It also lengthens and loosens tight muscles.

Not sure how to stretch? Want to learn a great quad stretch, hamstring stretch, and more? Check out the info below:

Stretching tips arrow. top

It's a good idea to stretch any time you work out, but try for at least two or three days each week. To stretch well, try these tips:

  • Warm up before you stretch. Stretching is more helpful when your muscles are warmed up. You can do some light exercises like walking or jogging in place for five to 10 minutes to warm up.
  • Stretch for around 10 minutes. You can stretch right after you warm up or at the end of your workout — or do both!
  • Go easy on yourself. You will feel a gentle pull, but if it hurts, stop. And don't forget to breathe.
  • Don't bounce. A stretch works well if you just hold it. If you are just starting out, try holding a stretch for around 15 seconds. If you are more flexible, you can hold it for a minute.
  • Make sure to repeat each stretch on both sides. Do each stretch two to four times on each side.

Stretches to try arrow. top

Here are some stretches you can practice:

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A girl doing a cross shoulder stretch

  1. Cross shoulder stretch
    Sit or stand up straight. Keep shoulders even. Extend right arm across chest. Place left hand on the right elbow to gently support your arm. Feel the stretch in your right arm and shoulder. Breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. Hold stretch for a count of 15. Repeat this stretch on opposite side, using right hand to stretch left arm and shoulder.

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A girl doing a tricep stretch

  1. Triceps stretch
    Stand up straight, with knees slightly bent, toes facing forward. Place feet hip distance apart. Keep shoulders even. Bend right arm at elbow, with elbow pointing to the sky. Lift arm next to your head. Position right fingers so they touch the shoulder blade area. Place left arm across top of head, and place left hand on the right elbow to gently support the arm during this stretch. You should feel a stretch in the back of your right arm. Breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. Hold stretch for a count of 15. Repeat this stretch on the opposite side, using right hand to stretch left triceps.

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A girl doing a chest stretch

  1. Chest stretch
    Stand up straight, with knees slightly bent, toes facing forward. Place feet hip distance apart. Keep shoulders even. Place arms behind your back. Clasp your hands together, lifting your arms behind your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Feel the stretch in your chest. Breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. Hold stretch for count of 15.

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A girl doing a quadricep stretch

  1. Quadriceps stretch
    You're going to be standing on one leg, so you may want help staying steady. If so, stand facing a wall or other surface, about 1 foot away from it. Put your right hand against the wall. Raise your left leg behind you and gently grab your foot with your left hand. Relax your left foot in your hand. Press your right hip forward to stretch the muscles in the front of your left thigh. Keep your knees close together. Hold stretch for a count of 15. Repeat the stretch with your right leg.

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A girl doing a hamstring stretch

  1. Hamstring stretch
    Lie with your back flat on the floor, with both of your knees bent. Place your feet flat on the floor, about 6 inches apart. Straighten your right knee and put both hands behind your right knee. Slowly lift your right leg, feeling a slight stretching in the back of your thigh. Keep your head relaxed on the floor. If you cannot relax your head on the floor, place a towel around your calf or ankle, holding one side of the towel in each hand. Hold stretch for a count of 15. Repeat the stretch with your left leg.

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A girl doing a runner's stretch

  1. Runner's stretch
    Squat down and put both hands on the floor in front of you. Stretch your right leg straight out behind you and relax your knee on the ground. Keep your left foot flat on the floor and lean forward with your chest on your left knee. Move your weight back to your right leg, keeping it as straight as you can. Do not move your left knee farther forward than your left ankle. Hold stretch for a count of 15. Repeat the stretch with your left leg.

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A girl doing a calf stretch

  1. Calf stretch
    Stand facing a wall or other surface, about 2 feet away from it, keeping your heels flat and your back straight. Lean forward and press your hands against the wall. Take one step forward with your left leg and bend the knee slightly. Keep your right leg straight and your heel on the ground. Stand up tall with shoulders over hips. Make sure your knee does not move in front of your ankle. You should feel stretching in the muscles in the back of your lower right leg, above your heel. If you need a bigger stretch, move your back farther away from the wall. Hold stretch for a count of 15. Repeat the stretch with your left leg.

 

Content last reviewed March 27, 2015
Page last updated June 28, 2015

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