These illustrations explain which muscles you’re stretching

Stretching is an important component of any physical fitness program and is very beneficial when it comes to everyday life.

We at Bright Side would like to share some beautiful illustrations created by a Spanish fitness coach to show you which muscles are affected by different stretches. Please bear in mind that while stretching you should pay attention to your breathing and make sure that the exercises do not cause you any pain. Hold each pose for 10-30 seconds.

Neck extension stretch

  • Muscles stretched: sternocleidomastoid muscles.
  • How to perform: Place your hands on your hips, keep your spine straight, and tilt your head back. For a bigger stretch, you can put your hands on your forehead.

Lateral side flexion of the neck with hand assistance

  • Muscles stretched: sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius muscles.
  • How to perform: Sit up with your back straight. Reach your left hand over your head, and slowly tilt your head to the left, trying to touch your left ear to your left shoulder. Repeat on the other side.

Lateral shoulder stretch

  • Muscles stretched: lateral deltoid.
  • How to perform: Stretch your right arm across your body. Use your other arm and pull the arm that is being stretched toward your body. Repeat the exercise with the other arm.

Standing assisted neck flexion stretch

  • Muscles stretched: Trapezius muscle.
  • How to perform: Start in a standing position with your feet together and your back straight. Slowly push your hips back, round your upper back, and bend your head forward, trying to touch your chin to your chest.

Lateral flexion with a dowel

  • Muscles stretched: external obliques and latissimus dorsi muscles.
  • How to perform: Stand with your back straight, and slowly pull your hips to the side. Repeat on the left side.

Triangle pose

  • Muscles stretched: external obliques.
  • How to perform: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your arms extended out to the sides. Keep your front foot pointed straight ahead and your back foot at approximately a 90 degree angle. Place your hand on your front leg, then push your front hip back, keeping your back straight.

Camel pose

  • Muscles stretched: rectus abdominis muscle and the external obliques.
  • How to perform: Sit back onto your heels, put your hands behind your back, and push your hips up and forward. Be careful not to overtax your lower back.

Chest stretch at the wall

  • Muscles stretched: pectoralis and latissimus dorsi muscles.
  • How to perform: Begin by facing a wall with your right hand touching it. Slowly rotate away from the wall to stretch your chest muscle. Repeat the exercise with the other arm.

Down dog variation at the wall

  • Muscles stretched: pectoralis and latissimus dorsi muscles.
  • How to perform: Stand far enough from a wall so that when you touch the wall your body becomes parallel to the ground. Take the position shown in the picture. Keep your back straight, and then push your chest forward creating a slight arch in your upper back.

Child’s pose

  • Muscles stretched: latissimus dorsi muscles.
  • How to perform: Start in a kneeling position, and slowly bring your hips back toward your heels, trying to touch your forehead to the floor.

Supine twist

  • Muscles stretched: glutes and external obliques.
  • How to perform: Lie on your back, bend your right knee up, and move it over to your left side. Slowly rotate your torso in the opposite direction. Use your left hand to increase the stretch, pushing your right knee toward the floor. Repeat with the other leg.

Seated pigeon pose

  • Muscles stretched: tibialis anterior muscles.
  • How to perform: Sit on the floor, put the right hand on the floor behind the back, extend both legs in front of you, and then take one ankle over the opposite knee. Repeat for the left foot.

Seated half pigeon pose

  • Muscles stretched: glutes.
  • How to perform: Start in a seated position, and slowly pull your leg to your chest while rotating your hip and keeping your spine straight. Repeat with the other leg.

Sitting adductor stretch

  • Muscles stretched: adductors and hamstrings.
  • How to perform: Sit on the floor with your legs wide apart. Keeping both legs straight, place your hands on the floor in front of you and begin to lean forward. Walk your fingers out as far as you can until you feel the stretch.

Butterfly pose

  • Muscles stretched: adductors.
  • How to perform: Sit on the ground with your back straight, bending both knees and bringing your feet together. Use your hands to press your knees down towards the floor. Keep in mind: In order to try a more intense version of this stretch, try to bring your heels closer to your hips.

Wide side lunge pose

  • Muscles stretched: adductors.
  • How to perform: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Shift your weight to your right leg and bend your right knee into a half-squat while keeping your left leg straight. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.

Half kneeling quad

  • Muscles stretched: psoas muscles and quadriceps.
  • How to perform: Start in a lunge position with your right knee on the ground and your left leg out in front of you at a 90 degree angle. Reach back and grab your right ankle, and pull it towards your butt. Then alternate the legs.

Seated forward fold

  • Muscles stretched: back thigh muscles, hamstrings, and calves.
  • How to perform: Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Keeping your legs pressed against the floor, slowly lower the torso towards the legs.

Standing calf stretch

  • Muscles stretched: soleus and gastrocnemius muscles.
  • How to perform: You can perform this stretch on a rack or on the edge of a stair step. Lightly rotate your ankles to stretch the calf muscles actively.

Single leg forward bend

  • Muscles stretched: back thigh muscles and hamstrings.
  • How to perform: Stand up straight, then step forward with your right foot. Bring your hands to your hips. Keep your spine straight as you bend forward from the hips. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.

Standing calf stretch at the wall

  • Muscles stretched: soleus and gastrocnemius muscles.
  • How to perform: Start in a lunge position with your right foot forward and your left foot slightly turned out. Slowly bring your left heel to the ground to stretch your calf muscles. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.

 

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