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Stretching is a great way to stay flexible and alert throughout the day, and most are even simple enough to do sitting at a desk. But not everyone knows if they’re doing a stretch exactly the right way, and this could cause more harm than good. So we’ve compiled a list of stretches and a video with images so you can always be at your best.

Which Muscle Are You Stretching and How To Do It

Head

lateral-side-flexionand-neck-rotation-stretch

Lateral side flexion of the neck (fig.7)

Target: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”

Can be boosted by sitting on a chair and clutching the bottom of the seat

Neck rotation stretch (fig.8)

Target: SCM

Apply pressure with opposite hand for a deeper stretch

neck-extensionand-lateral-side-with-assistance

Neck extension stretch (fig.9)

Target: SCM

Make sure not to collapse your cervical spine

Lateral side flexion of the neck with hand assistance (fig.10)

Target: SCM

Can be boosted by sitting and grabbing the bottom of the seat

Upper Body

Forearm extensor stretch

Target: Forearm extensor

Touch the tips of your fingers in a tea cup shape to extend the stretch

lateral-shoulder-and-standing-assisted-neck-flexion

Lateral shoulder stretch (fig.13)

Target: Side deltoid

Standing assisted neck flexion stretch (fig.14)

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Target: Trapezius muscle

lat-stretch-spinal-traction-and-lat-stretch-at-wall

Lat stretch with spinal traction (fig.15)

Target: Latissimus dorsi

Avoid if you’ve recently injured your shoulder or have pain there

Lat stretch at the wall (fig.16)

Target: Latissimus dorsi

Not recommended for those with lower back problems

17

Child’s pose (fig.17)

Target: Latissimus dorsi

lat-flex-with-dowel-and-triangle-pose

Lateral flexion with a dowel (fig.27)

Target: External obliques and latissimus dorsi

Not for those with lower back problems

Triangle pose (fig.28)

Target: External obliques

Keep your gaze on the hand in the air as you rotate away

chest-at-wall-and-assisted-chest-stretch

Chest stretch at the wall (fig.29)

Target: Pectorals

If you feel a stretch in your shoulder you’re going too far

Assisted chest stretch (fig.30)

Target: Chest and latissimus dorsi

Avoid if you have shoulder problems

32

Supine shoulder external rotation stretch (fig.32)

Target: Subscapularis

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If your hand is far from the floor it means your rotator cuff is tight

down-dog-wall-assisted-chest-stretch-variation

Down dog variation at the wall (fig.33)

Target: Pectorals and latissimus dorsi

If you have tight hamstrings, try bending your knees

Assisted chest stretch variation (fig.34)

Target: Pectorals

Avoid if you have shoulder problems

standing-upper-traps-and-standing-upper-back

Standing upper trapezius stretch (fig.35)

Target: Upper trapezius muscle

Maintain for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side

Standing upper back extension (fig.36)

Target: Teres major, rhomboids, and upper traps

Hold for 10-15 seconds

Lower Body

camel-pose-and-wide-forward-fold

Camel pose (fig.1)

Target: Rectus abdominous and external obliques

Don’t drop your head back if you have neck problems

Wide forward fold (fig.2)

Target: Abductors

Can also be done lying down with your feet up the wall

frog-and-wide-side-lunge

Frog pose (fig.3)

Target: Abductors

Can push hips back and forward for variations

Wide side lunge pose (Fig.4)

Target: Abductors

Keep your right foot flat on the ground

5

Butterfly stretch (fig.5)

Target: Abductors

Release your back muscles by bringing your feet farther from your hips and slowly rounding your upper body

11

Half kneeling quad/hip flexor stretch (fig.11)

Target: Psoas and quadricep

Squeeze your back foot to your back glute to heighten the hip flexor stretch

18

Standing calf stretch (fig.18)

Target: Soleus and gastrocnemius (low body)

Lightly rotate ankles to help the stretch

frontsplit-and-seated-forward-fold

Front split (fig.19)

Target: Psoas and hamstring

Have a chair for support when your hip flexors and hamstrings release

Seated forward fold/seated toe touch (fig.20)

Target: Hamstrings and calves

Can also be done on your back with your feet up the wall

singel-leg-forward-bend-and-deep-squat

Single leg forward bend (fig.21)

Target: Hamstrings

Deep squat (fig.22)

Target: Glutes

Can also be done on your back with your feet up the wall

half-king-pigeon-pose-and-standing-calf-at-wall

Seated half king pigeon pose (fig.23)

Target: Glutes

Should be felt only in the glute

Standing calf stretch at the wall (Fig.24)

Target: Soleus and gastrocnemius (low)

lat-flex-at-wall-and-supine-twist

Lateral flexion at the wall (fig.25)

Target: External obliques

Not recommended for those with lower back problems

Supine twist (fig.26)

Target: Glutes and external obliques

Will feel a bigger stretch on the upper spine when your knees are higher, and more of a stretch on the lumbar spine when the knees are lower

31

Seated half pigeon variation (Fig.31)

Target: Anterior tibialis

Slowly lean forward if you want to increase the stretch on the hip

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