Static Stretches for the Whole Body
Static stretching is one of the best ways to improve posture, alleviate back and shoulder pain, reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel, increase joint flexibility and range of motion, reduce injury risk and improve athletic performance. It can even help you sleep better!
If you've never stretched outside of your regular workout routine, here are ten stretches for you to get started. When starting a stretching routine, it’s important to stretch all major muscle groups twice a day.
You can stretch trouble areas 3 or 4 times a day so long as the stretches do not cause pain. Stretching can be done at almost any time or anywhere; while watching TV, when you wake up or before you go to bed, and during your lunch break.
Median Nerve Stretch
The median nerve is a major nerve that travels the length of the arm, from upper arm to your fingers. Compression of the median nerve is one of the leading causes of carpal tunnel syndrome.
You can perform this exercise seated or standing. If you are sitting, make sure you sit up straight. Extend your arms out to shoulder height with your elbows straight. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Flex your wrist up so your fingers are pointing at the ceiling. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Though often overlooked in cool downs and warm ups, abs, just like every other major muscle group, need to be stretched regularly.
Cobra Stretch - Lie on your stomach with your elbows bent and your palms in line with your shoulders. Press your palms into the floor and lift your upper body off the floor, extending your arms until your elbows are straight. Your hips, legs, and feet should not leave the floor. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Basic Shoulder Stretch - Relax your shoulders and lengthen your neck. Cross your right arm across your chest. Do not let your shoulder shrug up, toward your ear. Use your left hand to pull your right arm across your chest until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the left side.
Learn more shoulder stretches by reading our ultimate stretching guide
Butterfly Wings - While seated, hold your hands in prayer position in front of your breast bone. With your hands still together, extend your arms in front of you until your elbows are straight. Next, relax your shoulders and lower your chin to your chest, lightly rounding your upper back. Now bring your arms out to your sides, as if you’re going to do a swan dive.
Keep your wrist up, fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Raise your head to look up at the ceiling and arch your upper back. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Just a quick note:
The Butterfly Wings stretch can also help stretch the median nerve.
Doorknob Stretch - Open the door and hold one doorknob in each hand while standing about 8-inches from the door. Keeping your arms and legs straight, begin to lean back, pressing your buttocks toward the floor. Lower your head so you are looking at the floor. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Knee to Chest Stretch- Sit upright in a chair. Using your hands, bring one knee toward your chest and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with your other knee. Be mindful that you do not lean forward during the stretch.
Hip Flexion Stretch - Lie on your back. Bend one knee and place both hands just below the knee. Pull your knee toward your chest until you feel the stretch. Hold for 20 seconds then switch to the other side. Repeat twice on both sides.
Standing Quad Stretch - Balance on your right leg. You can place your right palm against a wall for balance. Bend your left knee and raise it behind you. With your left hand, hold your foot and pull it as close as possible to your buttocks. Hold for 15 seconds and switch sides.
Crossed Legs Forehead to Knee Stretch - Cross one foot in front of the other. Bend at the waist and press your forehead to your knee (or as close as you can get) without bending your knees. Your chest should be pressed to your thighs, with your back straight and your neck should be in line with your shoulders.
Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with the other foot in front. Do the stretch 3 times on both sides.
Downward Facing Dog - Start in plank position. Lift your pelvis up until your body makes an inverted ‘V’. Keep your arms extended and your palms pressed to the floor. Your heels will naturally lift up. Concentrate on pressing your heels back to the floor. To keep your upper back from rounding, train your eyes on a piece of floor between your forearms.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Rest for a few seconds then repeat.