How to Stretch Your Body Effectively

Stretching correctly will increase your flexibility, and reduce the risk of injuries caused by lesions of the connective tissues (such as the periosteum) and other nasty things. This guide shows a variety of techniques and its goal is to regroup every type of stretching which you may put in a routine of your own. Use the ones that suit your needs for the activities you do. Do not stretch if you are injured. This can only result in further injury.


1. Stretch your jaw. Incline your head back, rest your chin on your palm, then pull your jaw open. Say "Aaahh!" (you can mime it). Grab your chin with your thumb, index and middle fingers. Stretch it left to right. This exercise will help if you have been hit to the jaw (i.e. knocked-out in boxing).
2. Stretch your neck. Incline your head forward, do not roll your head from side to side, this is dangerous. Instead stretch your neck left, right, forward and back, but always return to center first! Tilt your head with ear toward shoulder, incline your head backward and roll your head from left to right, then right to left in a 30 degree motion. Be sure that while your head is tilted back, you keep your jaw relaxed and even let your mouth fall open just a bit (avoid inhaling flies).
3. Stretch your shoulder.
1. Put your arm on your chest;
2. Grab your forearm with the opposite arm;
3. Pull your arm until you feel your shoulder being stretched;
4. Push the arm you are stretching the opposite way in order to contract the muscle if you feel that your chest is stretching instead of your shoulder.
4. Stretch your triceps.
1. Reach up with your right arm.
2. Bend your right elbow and put your forearm down behind your head and between your shoulder blades.
3. Reach up and grab your right elbow with your opposite arm.
4. Pull your elbow toward your head.
5. Stretch your scapulae.
1. Extend your arms in front of you.
2. Join both hands together and cross fingers.
3. Push your arms further and try to push your scapulae in opposite directions.
6. Stretch your wrists.
1. Hold arm out.
2. Slightly pull back your hand down with your opposite hand.
3. Repeat with other hand.
7. Stretch quadriceps.
1. Stand up and pull one leg behind you.
2. Repeat with other leg.
8. Stretch calves.
1. Put your arms up against the wall.
2. Bring one leg in towards it while keeping your legs straight.
3. Repeat with other leg.
9. Stretch hamstrings.
1. Sit on the floor and put one leg out.
2. Reach for it and hold for a few seconds.
3. Repeat with other leg, and then do it with both legs.
10. Do a butterfly stretch.
1. Sit on the floor.
2. Press the soles of your feet together.
3. Pull your feet the closest you can.
4. Push your knees down.
11. Stretch lower back.
1. Lay down.
2. Bring one leg onto your chest.
3. Repeat with your other leg, and then do it with both.


* All stretches should be held (without movement) for 15-20 seconds. This surpasses the myotatic reflex which prevents any muscle from stretching for the first 10-12 seconds.
* Consult a specialist before working out.
* Do not bounce or bob when you stretch - this is not effective and can lead to injury.
* Perform the exercises slowly to prevent injuries.
* If some stretches are difficult at beginner level, you might want to use a wall for support, or the assistance of a friend.
* Here's a good way to stretch your legs, lay flat on your back extend yor leg out, grab the back of your thigh, and pull your leg twards your face. Don't jerk your leg, it may cause an injury.


* Never stretch before you warm up. The only reason it feels good to stretch even when you're cold is because your body sends out natural painkillers. To protect your tissues, you need to raise your cardiac pulse in order to fill them with blood. The only way to do this is by working out.
o Jumping rope is an effective way to achieve this, although this may damage your tibia's periosteums, which is the membrane enveloping your bones (except at junctions) that allows the blood to flow from your heart to your muscles connected by the tendon.
o A safer way to raise your cardiac pulses would be by swimming. Water reduces shocks to the body because it reduces the felt effect of gravity on your body.
o Swimming pools are sometimes unaccessible so an efficient and safe way to raise cardiac pulse would be by cycling, except if you have knee problems.
* Stretching should not hurt, just inflict a small and negligible instantaneous pain.
* ALWAYS stretch after you work out, unless all you want is flexibility. If you stretch before your workout, you will put your nervous system to sleep resulting in less gain than improvement on the muscle part. As a result, for example, your system won't give you as much lactic acid, but many other things will be affected by flexibility training before a workout.
* Never stretch when you are injured.


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