What Are the 15 Best Stretching Exercises?

Medically Reviewed on 2/23/2022

15 best stretching exercises

15 best stretching exercises
Learn the 15 best stretching exercises to perform before and after physical activity to loosen your muscles and increase blood flow.

The 15 best stretching exercises include the following:

  1. Standing hamstring stretch
    • Step forward with your left foot and tip from the hips, keeping your back flat.
    • Reduce your weight until you feel a stretch at the back of your leg.
    • To provide support for your back, place your hands on your upper thighs.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before switching sides and repeat one to three times more.
  2. Quad stretch
    • If necessary, stand and grasp onto a wall or the back of a chair for balance.
    • Grab the top of your left foot and bend your knee, bringing the foot closer to your glutes, knee pointing straight down. A stretch should be felt down the front of your leg.
    • For a deeper stretch, push your hips forward.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before switching sides and repeat one to three times per leg.
  3. Chest and shoulder stretch
    • Sit or stand with your hands clasped behind your back, arms straight.
    • Lift your hands to the ceiling, only as far as they will go. Your shoulders and chest should feel stretched.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat one to three times more.
  4. Biceps stretch
    • Stretch your arms out to the sides, slightly behind the body, and keep your thumbs up
    • Rotate your thumbs up and down such that your biceps will be stretched
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat one to three more times.
  5. Triceps stretch
    • Bend your right elbow behind your head and use your right hand to gently draw your left elbow in until you feel a triceps stretch.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before switching sides and repeat one to three times.
  6. Upper back stretch
    • To feel a stretch in your upper back, clasp your hands in front of you and go round your back, pressing your arms out from your body.
    • To get the most out of this stretch, contract the abs.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat one to three times more.
  7. Shoulder stretch
    • Straighten your right arm across your chest and wrap your left hand around your elbow, gently tugging on the right arm to deepen the shoulder stretch.
    • If you are not feeling a stretch, try lowering your shoulder.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before switching sides and repeating one to three times per side.
  8. Seated side stretch
    • Clasp your hands straight up overhead, palms facing the ceiling, whether you are sitting or standing.
    • Stretch up and then to the right, experiencing a stretch down your left side as you do so.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before switching sides and repeat one to three times more.
  9. Wall chest stretch
    • Stand at a doorway and split your legs one in front of the other, stretching your arms. Keep the door open support the arms on the doorframe, slightly bend the elbows.
    • Slowly bend your torso forward, pressing your shoulders down, until a stretch is felt in the front of the shoulders and chest. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  10. Neck stretch
    • Maintain a straight back and a square head above your shoulders.
    • Turn your head slowly to the right until you feel a stretch on the side of your neck and shoulder.
    • Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds before slowly turning your head forward.
  11. Side bend stretch
    • Kneel so that your hips are aligned with your knees. Extend your right leg out to the side and both arms overhead.
    • Bend to the right from your hip, lowering your right hand toward your right foot and reaching your left hand to the right.
    • When you feel a stretch on the side of your body and your right leg, come to a complete stop. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  12. Scalene stretch
    • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your head and shoulders aligned over your hips, and your arms at your sides.
    • Raise your right arm 45 degrees away from your body and place it immediately behind your hips; turn your right palm away from you. Squeeze your right shoulder blade down and tuck your chin slightly into your chest.
    • Lower your head slowly toward your right shoulder until you feel a stretch in the left side of your neck. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  13. Piriformis stretch
    • Lie faceup on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your arms at your sides.
    • Place your left hand on the outside of your right leg and bend your right knee.
    • As you slowly lift your right thigh to the left, keep your shoulders and hips flat on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds when you feel a stretch on the outside of your right hip and glute. Repeat on the other side.
  14. Butterfly stretch
    • Sit on the floor with your knees bent out to the sides and your feet placed together a few inches in front of your torso.
    • Grasp your feet with your hands and sit up straight, shoulders over hips.
    • Bend forward from your hips, feeling a stretch in your inner thighs and outer hips. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  15. Kneeling hip flexor stretch
    • Kneel with your knees bent 90 degrees, your left knee on the floor, and your right foot a stride length ahead of you. The right thigh should be parallel to the floor, and the right knee should be placed above the right ankle.
    • Raise your left arm upward and place your right hand on your right hip.
    • Rotate your torso to the left slowly until you feel tightness in the front of your left hip.
    • Hold for 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.

Why is stretching so important?

Stretching is a vital element of exercise because it helps warm up the muscles and loosen the joints before exercise. It also helps the muscles get back to their normal state and increases blood flow for recovery after exercise.

Stretching is known to prevent sports-related or exercise-related injuries.

Stretch after a regularly planned activity, such as your daily run, your typical strength training session, or even when walking your dog to make it a habit.

When you are sedentary or spend long periods in one position (such as when you are seated at a computer), your muscles tend to get stiff. This alters how much your muscles can move and the range of motion of your joints over time, resulting in postural alterations and pain.

Stretching, however, can help alleviate stiffness, improve posture, and reduce joint tension. It can also help you relieve tension, relax, and enhance your mood.

3 recommendations to be followed while performing stretches

  1. Stretch completely as far as you are comfortable
    • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing full comfort and 10 representing pain, you should stretch as far as it is comfortable. It should be close to the scale of seven.
    • Anything beyond a seven could indicate that you are overstretching and possibly damaging a muscle.
    • Anything below a seven indicates that you are not doing enough to reap the benefits of the stretch. If it hurts, do not continue with the stretch.
  2. Hold the stretch
    • Stay still for 30 seconds once you sense tightness.
    • According to studies published in the Journal of Physical Therapy, while you can hold a stretch for longer, the extra time will not provide you with any additional flexibility benefits.
  3. Deep breathing
    • Take deep breaths, and on each exhalation, concentrate on relaxing the muscles you are stretching, as well as the surrounding body components.


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Medically Reviewed on 2/23/2022
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TriHealth. 10 Stretches You can do Anywhere. https://www.trihealth.com/dailyhealthwire/wellness-and-fitness/10-stretches-you-can-do-anywhere

Realbuzz Foundation. 10 Best Stretches. https://www.realbuzz.com/articles-interests/fitness/article/10-best-stretches/

Winderl AM. The 21 Best Stretching Exercises for Better Flexibility. SELF. https://www.self.com/gallery/essential-stretches-slideshow