Glossary of stretches

Common exercise stretches described and illustrated

When you first start out doing stretch exercises, you might find it difficult to really find a stretching technique that's right for you. However, this needn't be the case. Here's the realbuzz.com illustrated guide to stretch exercises, both for the lower body and the upper body.

Lower body stretches

  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Glutes
  • Hip flexors
  • Adductors

Upper body stretches

  • Back
  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Lats
  • Shoulder
  • Back (relax)

Lower body stretches

Hamstrings (back of thigh)

Technique:

  • Grasp leg behind knee
  • Pull leg into chest
  • Slowly straighten leg
  • Repeat with other leg

Quadriceps (front of thigh)

Technique:

  • Stand on one leg with other leg pulled up to buttocks
  • Grasp ankle and ease into stretch
  • Keep knees together
  • Keep upright posture
  • Repeat with other leg

Calf (back of lower leg)

Technique:

  • Lean into wall and lift one leg off the ground
  • Lean into stretch
  • Keep leg straight
  • Repeat with other leg

 

Glutes (buttock)

Technique:

  • Lie on back on the floor
  • Position one leg across the opposite thigh
  • Grasp leg behind thigh and pull into body
  • Repeat with other leg

Hip flexors (front of pelvis)

Technique:

  • Kneel on floor with cushion under knee
  • Grasp foot and pull up towards buttock
  • Thrust hips forward and upwards
  • Stretch will be felt in thigh and across front of pelvis
  • Repeat with other leg

Adductors

Technique:

  • Sit with back against a wall
  • Ensure backside is positioned as close to the wall as possible
  • Keeping an upright posture, gently press down on knees until stretch is felt

Upper body stretches

Back (start position)

Technique:

  • Kneel on floor
  • Fully drop chin to chest
  • Arch back upwards, pushing from shoulders
  • Relaxed breathing throughout

Back (finish position)

Technique:

  • From start position, slowly extend neck and look at ceiling
  • Hollow out back
  • Relaxed breathing throughout

Bicep (upper arm)

Technique:

  • Put hand against wall at shoulder height
  • Press heel of hand against wall with fingers pointing down or turned round to be as close as can be managed to vertical
  • Turn head to look in opposite direction
  • Repeat with other arm

Neck – lateral flexion

Technique:

  • Lean head to one side
  • Continue moving head so that ear moves closer to shoulder
  • Hold position
  • Repeat other side

Chest

Technique:

  • Sit on floor with arms outstretched behind
  • With head up, slide forward until stretch is felt across chest and bicep
  • Thrust chest forward to further maximize stretch

Lats (sides of back)

Technique:

  • Lie on stability ball as shown in picture
  • Stretch out upper arm
  • Continue to stretch out upper arm away from body until stretch is felt in latsarea

Shoulder

Technique:

  • Sweep one outstretched arm across body
  • Position other arm above elbow of outstretched arm
  • Apply pressure to outstretched arm
  • Repeat with other shoulder

Back (relax)

Technique:

  • Carefully ease back onto stability ball
  • Position ball in hollow of lower back
  • Allow body to completely relax across ball

 

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