34 Pictures To See Which Muscle You’re Stretching

Disregarding your lifestyle – whether you are a party animal, chronic worker or a workout addict, you’ve probably heard by now just how important it was to stretch. And as truths go, this one is highly spot on. Stretching increases the blood flow in your muscles and helps your joints to exploit their full range of motion. It also improves your posture and enhances your athletic performance at reduced risk of pain and injury.

However, knowing the importance of stretching is not sufficient to endeavour into practicing yoga or starting a flexibility routine. In order to make your exercises efficient, you should know exactly which muscles are affected by each stretch, and how to perform them correctly. Mastering this knowledge, allows you freedom in choosing the stretches that serve your goals and body type the best.

Moreover, if by any chance you feel pain in some part of the body ever again, this knowledge can further help you to pinpoint the troubled muscle with greater precision, and alter your exercises accordingly, thus avoiding any injury or overstraining.

Stretching exercises should be felt in the belly of the muscles. Any pressure or strain on your joints is a clear sign that you are doing something wrong, or pushing it too far. Most importantly, always focus on your breathing, and try going through the motions with ease, and as naturally as possible.

Forget about how long it takes you to do the stretch. It would be far better to turn your attention to feeling how your muscles ease back in their natural length, in a resting position. It can take anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds. And you should always step back and evaluate. If a specific stretch is too tiresome, or fails to deliver any tangible results, don’t keep on practicing it stubbornly just for the sake of it. Try a different variation, alter your pose.

The following illustrations were created by Vicky Timón, a yoga expert and author of “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises,” with commentary by James Kilgallon, CSCS, creator of Mazlo’s Body Maintenance Program.

 

1. Camel Pose

Targeted muscles: Rectus Abdominis and External Obliques.

This stretch requires good flexibility. Avoid it otherwise.   Sitting on your heels place hands on the feet behind you, and push your hips up and forward. Avoid extensive pressure on your lumbar spine. Note that people with neck problems should avoid dropping their head back.

2. Wide Forward Fold

Targeted muscles: Adductors.

Excellent exercise for opening the hips, and stretching the adductors and hamstrings  The stretch starts with your knees bent, and spine straight.  When you start feeling your muscles relax, start straightening your legs slowly. Then, rounding out your beck, reach for the feet.  Wrapping your palms around the balls, pull lightly. This will relax your calf muscles.  If you have problem reaching your feet, help yourself by using belt, or towel. Another variation of this stretch involves lying on the back with feet going up the wall.

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3. Frog Pose

Targeted muscles: Adductors.



It is recommended to be on a soft surface while performing this is deep groin stretch, as it puts considerable pressure on the knees. Resting on hands and knees slowly widen the knees like a frog, until you feel your groin muscles fully stretched but not strained. You can add slight variations by gently pushing your hips back and forward.

4. Wide Side Lunge Pose

Targeted muscles: Adductors.

Stand with both feet forward and legs in a wide stance and as straight as possible. Slowly walk your hands to your right foot while bending the right knee. Rotate the toes of your still extended left leg towards the ceiling. At the end of the pose you should be seated into your right hip. Remember to keep the right foot flat on the ground.

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5. Butterfly Stretch

Targeted muscles: Adductors.

Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together. Sit on your sitting bones with firm back. You can try to extend this stretch by applying pressure on your knees with your hands. At the same time, try pulling the feet closer to your body. The closer they are, the more you stretch your groin muscles.  After this, move the feet slightly forward and away from your hips, and gently round your upper body, relaxing your back muscles.

6. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Targeted muscles: Forearm Extensor.

Performed in a standing position. First, pack your shoulders down and back. Then, extend your left arm and rotate the shoulder in the optimal position to stretch the forearm muscle.  After relaxing your body in this position, begin the stretch by applying downward pressure on the palm with your opposing hand.   The end position of your palm can progress until the tips of your fingers touch together in a shape of a tea cup.

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7. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck

Targeted muscles: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”.

Ideally performed seated on a chair. Slowly drop your neck towards the shoulders, while at the same time keeping it as long as possible. Make sure not to collapse your cervical spine in the process. For added stretch try grabbing the bottom of the seat. By creating this consistent tension down the arm and neck you target the upper traps.

8. Neck Rotation Stretch

Targeted muscles: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”.

It involves slow rotation of your neck. In doing so, keep your chin slightly elevated to isolate the SCM.  For a deeper stretch, put the opposite hand from the direction that you are rotating on your chin and apply slight pressure.

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9. Neck Extension Stretch

Targeted muscles: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”.

Performed in a standing position. Place hands on your hips and tilt your head back. Keeping your spine long, make sure you’re cervical spine isn’t collapsing.

10. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck with Hand Assistance

Targeted muscles: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM” and Upper Trapezius.

Performed in a similar way as the Lateral Side flexion of the neck, just that in this case you help yourself by putting the hand on the top of your head and gently pulling.

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