side lunge stretch
1 / 12

Side Lunge Stretch

Keep your upper body straight and legs apart. Then shift your weight in a slow "lunge" to the side over a bent knee (not forward, as in a typical lunge). You should feel a stretch along the inner thigh of the opposite leg, which should be straight as you push your weight to the bent-knee side. Try to hold it for 20 to 30 seconds on each side.

Swipe to advance
calf stretch
2 / 12

Calf Stretch

Stand facing a wall a bit more than arm's length away. Put one foot forward with a bent knee, and the other one back with a straight knee. Feet should point directly forward. Using your arms to brace yourself against the wall, keep your belly firm and lean until you feel the stretch in the calf muscle of your back leg. Try to keep both feet flat. Hold it for 20 to 30 seconds on each side.

Swipe to advance
chest and shoulder stretch
3 / 12

Chest and Shoulder Stretch

You can do this sitting or standing. Interlace your fingers with bent elbows and put your hands behind your head. Move your elbows gently backward and squeeze your shoulder blades together. You can move your hands to the top of your head -- or a few inches above your head -- to affect different parts of your shoulders and chest.

Swipe to advance
glute bridge
4 / 12

Glute Bridge

This one stretches your hip flexors. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor about hip-width apart. Gently tighten your stomach muscles to help flatten your back and prevent overstretching. Then tighten your butt (glute) muscles as you push your hips up toward the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds and repeat.

Swipe to advance
standing quad stretch
5 / 12

Standing Quad Stretch

Stand behind a chair with your legs about shoulder-width apart. Put one hand on the chair for balance. On the opposite side, lift your foot behind you and grab it with your free hand, keeping your bent knee pointing straight to the floor. Avoid bending forward, and try not to lock the knee of your standing leg. Pull gently on the leg until you feel the thigh stretch. Hold it for 10 to 30 seconds. 

Swipe to advance
cobra pose
6 / 12

Cobra

It stretches your stomach and back muscles. Lie on your belly with your hands facing forward flat on the floor, directly under your shoulders. Stretch your legs out behind you and point your toes. As you exhale, lift your chest up and push your hips into the floor. Take care not to extend your arms so far that you lift your hips up. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.

Swipe to advance
standing hip flexor stretch
7 / 12

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

Your hip flexors -- muscles that help you lift your knees and bend your waist -- can get tight if you're a runner or you sit for long periods. Drop one leg back, keeping it straight or slightly bent. Try to keep your torso upright and your spine straight. Drop your tailbone down toward the floor and tuck your butt forward until you feel the stretch on the inside thigh of your rear leg. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and then switch legs.  

Swipe to advance
butterfly stretch
8 / 12

Butterfly Stretch

This one loosens up your inner thighs, groin, hips, and knees. Sit on the floor or a mat and bring your feet together so that your soles touch and your knees bend to opposite sides. With a straight spine, grasp your feet, then lean slowly forward and gently push your thighs down with your elbows until you feel the stretch along your inner thighs. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

Swipe to advance
standing hamstring stretch
9 / 12

Standing Hamstring Stretch

In a standing position, find something to hold for balance. Put one straightened leg up on a step or a block. Bend slightly (not beyond your toes) with the opposite knee until you feel a gentle stretch at the back of the thigh of the raised leg. Bend slightly forward from your hips if you need more stretch. Move slowly and evenly, without bouncing. Hold it for 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs.

Swipe to advance
reclining figure 4 stretch
10 / 12

Reclining Figure 4

You'll feel this one in your hips and glutes, and it should release some tension in your lower back. Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. Cross one ankle over the opposite thigh and pull them toward your body. Try not to force it. Use gravity and the weight of your legs to get them closer to your body. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and then switch legs.

Swipe to advance
sideways next stretch
11 / 12

Sideways Neck Stretch

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your belly and pull your shoulders back. With your head slightly forward, slowly tilt your ear toward the shoulder on the same side until you feel a stretch. Hold it for about 10 seconds, and slowly bring your head back up and do the other side. You can increase the stretch by using the hand on the tilting side to gently pull your head down.

Swipe to advance
lying knee to chest stretch
12 / 12

Lying Knee-to-Chest Stretch

This one reaches your quads, hip flexors, lower back, and hamstrings. Lie on your back and gently pull one knee toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Leave the other leg bent if you have low back pain. Otherwise, choose what's more comfortable. If straight, you can add to the stretch by pushing the back of your knee toward the floor. Hold it for 30 seconds and then switch legs.  

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 05/06/2019 Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on May 06, 2019

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

1) CAIA IMAGE / Science Source

2) MangoStar_Studio / Getty Images

3) puhhha / Getty Images

4) Aleksandr Kondratov / Getty Images

5) mastermilmar / Getty Images

6) fizkes / Getty Images

7) iprogressman / Getty Images

8) fizkes / Getty Images

9) tommaso79 / Getty Images

10) fizkes / Getty Images

11) Zinkevych / Getty Images

12) g-stockstudio / Getty Images

 

SOURCES:

Collin Eggebrecht, licensed physical therapist, DPT, OCS, CSCS.

American Council On Exercise: "Reset Your Day With This Cool-down," "Seated Butterfly Stretch," "Flexibility Exercises for Beginners," "Glute Bridge," "Youth Fitness: Cool Down and Stretch," "Cobra," "5 Chest Stretch Variations."

American Heart Association: "Stretches for Exercise and Flexibility."

American Sleep Apnea Association: "Can't sleep? Try these easy sleep-friendly yoga poses."

Arthritis Foundation: "Bridges," "Seated Butterfly Stretch," "Standing Hamstring Stretch," "Quadriceps Stretch," "Calf Stretches," "Standing Hip Flexors and Quadriceps Stretches."

Cleveland Clinic: "Exercises to Reduce Low Back Pain."

ExRx.net: "Side Lunge."

Journal of Athletic Training: "Standing and Supine Hamstring Stretching Are Equally Effective."

Mayo Clinic: "Guide to Stretches."

National Institute on Aging: "Flexibility."

National Institutes of Health Office of Research Services: "Exercises and Stretches." 

Piedmont Healthcare: "3 quick stretches to alleviate lower back pain."

UC Riverside Wellness Program: "Stretching Exercises for the Lower Body."

United States Olympic Committee: "6 Moves to Loosen Up Tight Hip Flexors."

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on May 06, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.