Natural Fitness Studio

Stretch Yourself!

Any fitness program should include a comprehensive plan for flexibility. Start yours today!
by Joseph A. de Silva

Attempting to touch your toes once or twice before running does not make a flexibility regimen. If you’re going to exercise your entire body (and you should!), you need to increase flexibility in your whole body as well. Below is a program that stretches each major muscle group and can still get you off and running quickly.

First, some general guidelines:

  • Start with a brief cardio warm-up prior to stretching (a short walk is fine). If your muscles are tight from inactivity, stretching can be counterproductive.
  • Don’t forget to breathe! Remember to maintain normal breathing throughout your stretches.
  • Don’t overdo it! You should feel each stretch in your muscles without feeling pain.

Ready to go? Here’s your full-body flexibility regimen:

Upper Body

ChestChest: Place the palm of your right hand against a wall with your right arm in line with the chest. Keeping our palm against the wall, turn your torso to the left (away from your right arm) and hold for 20 seconds. You should feel a comfortable stretch in the chest and bicep. Switch sides and repeat.

Back: Standing up straight, grasp a stationary bar or post, an arm’s length away at chest level. Bend forward at the waist, lean back away from the hands and hold for 20 seconds. Be sure to keep the hands still. You should feel the stretch along both sides of your body.

Back and TricepsBack and Triceps: Raise your right elbow into the air and bring your right wrist behind the head. Grasp the right elbow with your left hand. Gently pull the elbow towards your head, lean to the left and hold for 20 seconds. You should feel the stretch in the triceps and down the right side of the body. Switch sides and repeat.

Biceps: Straighten your right arm out in front of your body with the palm up. Keeping your arm straight, grasp the fingers of your right hand with your left hand, and gently pull them backwards for 20 seconds. You should feel a stretch in forearm, wrist and the top of the upper arm. Switch hands and repeat.

BicepsLower Body

Quadriceps (front of the thigh): Standing tall, grasp the ankle of your right leg with your right hand behind your back. (Note: if you cannot grab your ankle, try placing the foot on something elevated like a stability ball or stationary bar.) While holding onto the ankle, bring the heel as close to the back of your thigh as you can and hold for 20 seconds. Be sure to keep your stretching leg parallel to the non-stretching leg. You should feel the stretch in the front of the leg. Switch sides and repeat.

Hamstrings (rear of the thigh): Place your right foot on a stair, bench or stationary bar with the heel up and the knee slightly bent. With your heel elevated, lean forward towards the stair by bending at the waist, reaching towards the elevated toes (you most likely won’t be able to reach them), and hold for 20 seconds. You should feel a stretch in the back of the upper leg. Switch sides and repeat.

CalvesCalves Part One (lower leg): Standing facing a wall, place the ball of your right foot on the ground with your toe on the wall. Stagger your left foot a few feet behind it. Keep your leg straight and lean the whole body forward for five seconds.

Calves Part Two (lower leg): This variation emphasizes the Achilles tendon. Perform this stretch the same way as the last calf stretch, but this time maintain a 20 to 30 degree bend in the knee instead of keeping the leg straight. Hold for five seconds, then switch sides. You should feel the stretch in the bottom of the lower calf.

AdductorsAdductors (inner thigh): Take a wide stance with your legs with knees slightly bent. Placing both hands on the right thigh, lean to the right and bend your right knee to 90 degrees, straightening your left leg. You should feel the stretch in the inner thigh. Switch sides

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