Keeping your body flexible and loose is important for mobility and makes you less prone to injury. And not surprisingly, flexibility and mobility is one of the most important indicators of whether you will live a long healthy life or not. The following are stretch poses that will release muscle tension in specific muscle groups throughout your body.
1. Arm Across the Chest Shoulder Stretch
To reduce the tightness in your shoulders and increase its range of motion, bring your arm across your chest as demonstrated in the picture. Pull this arm towards yourself by the elbow area with the other arm. Make sure to keep your body still during this stretch.
2. Finger and Forearm Stretch
If you find stiffness in your forearms after a long day at work, try this stretching technique. With the help of the other hand, slowly pull back as demonstrated in the picture. This action will give your fingers a nice stretch. As you continue to pull, this stretch will transition and start relieving the muscle tensions in your forearm.
3. Standing Toe Touches
After a nice jogging session, use this stretching pose as your body is still cooling down from the workout. Standing toe touches will stretch out your hamstring as well as your back and shoulders. Simply bend at the waist and slowly reach your fingertips downwards and towards your feet.
4. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
This is a important stretch to pair up with the previous stretch exercise, especially after a good hiking or running workout. As the standing toe touch pose targets the hamstrings, holding this pose will stretch out your quadriceps muscle. The combination of both stretches will reduce your leg soreness the following day.
5. Sitting Single-Leg Toe Touch
This stretching exercise is a variation of the standing toe touch. In addition to relieving the tension in your back and hamstring, the grip on the top portion of your feet will also stretch your calves.
6. Knee to Chest Stretch
The knee to chest pose is a great stretch after your workout. It targets the hamstrings, hips and lower back. You can also tuck both knees to your chest, at the same time, and hold them there with your arms wrap around it.
7. Child’s Pose
To help elongate your spine and stretch out your shoulders and back muscles, use this popular yoga pose. As you settle into the position exhibited in the image, slowly crawl your fingers forward and away from your body. Once you cannot reach any further with your fingertips, hold this position and experience the wonderful benefits of the child’s pose.
8. Sitting Twist
The sitting twist pose stretches out the muscle groups supporting your spine. Consistent usage of this stretch will help improve the flexibility of these muscles and reduce stiffness along your spine, especially after a long day at the office.
9. Hip Stretch with Body Twist
This is a fantastic pose to incorporate into your stretching routine, since it targets multiple muscle groups at once. Start out by firmly planting your leading leg on the ground and then use your trailing leg to balance yourself on your toes, as shown in the first image. As this leg placement and body position stretches your hips, rotate your body and stretch out your arm as illustrated in the second picture. This extra movement will stretch your back and shoulders.
10. Glute Bridge
The glute bridge is an easy pose for stretching your hips. With both feet placed shoulder widths apart and your arms relaxed by your side, bring your hips up and towards the ceiling. Hold it at the peak height to maximize this stretch. Be careful to support your weight with your shoulders and not your neck.
For more help with flexibility and mobility, I also suggest you get a high density foam roller. Use it at least a few times a week because it does an excellent job of getting rid of knots and tight muscles.
If you are interested in advanced flexibility and mobility training, I highly recommend the book Full Body Flexibility by Human Kenetics.
And try this mobility test—it supposedly is a good indicator of longevity.