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Diet & Weight Loss
Starting Stretching – 53 Full Body Stretches for Beginners (Part 2)
Welcome to Starting Stretching, Part 2. Because of its size, we had to divide this guide in two parts. In Part 2, we continue with specific stretches for fingers, arms, core, legs and toes, concluding our guide with the last, 53rd stretch at the bottom.
To find the first 25 stretches of Starting Stretching along with workout instructions and muscles chart, please visit Starting Stretching – 53 Full Body Stretches for Beginners, Part 1.
Stretching is clouded by misconceptions and conflicting reports. Considered a must for maintaining and improving flexibility, the benefits are often questioned elsewhere. In medicine, current literature on stretching finds that one static stretch of 15-30 seconds per day is sufficient for most patients, but some require longer durations.
The potential of a warm-up and stretching routine in deterring muscular injury during physical activity is also questioned. However, certain techniques and protocols have shown a positive outcome on deterring injuries and as a result, a warm-up and stretching protocol should be implemented prior (within 15 minutes for most benefit) to physical activity.
All stretches presented here should be repeated between 3-6 times, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds. If 30 seconds is too demanding, try with 15 seconds or less and work your way up.
- Finger by Finger Flexion
￼Finger by Finger Flexion With Assistance – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: The extensor muscle corresponding to the finger being flexed
Like the 25 exercise in this series, Finger by Finger Flexion is done one finger at a time. Simply hold on to each finger individually with the opposite hand and go for a deep but gentle flexion. Make sure your wrist remains flexed at approximately 90°.
During the exercise, flex the wrist slightly with each pull of the finger in order to put even greater emphasis on the tension. As in all other stretching exercises, the movement here should also be slow and controlled.
- Finger Separation Stretch
Finger Separation – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: Palmar interosseous, dorsal interosseous of the thumb
This exercise is especially recommended for musicians playing the piano, guitar, flute, etc. With the help of the opposite hand, separate the fingers from each other, one by one. An alternative is to place an object like a cylinder or a rubber ball between the fingers and press it using the other hand towards the interdigital spaces of each finger. Some small muscles of the hand, the palmar interosseous for example, respond very well to this alternative.
Although the easiest one to separate may be the thumb (it’s called the opposing finger for a reason), the work should involve the entire hand.
Certain professions and hobbies demand excellent finger mobility, especially in the artistic fields. For example, musicians who play instruments where finger work is important will all benefit from this exercise, which they should practice conscientiously.
- Hand Adduction With Extended Elbow
Hand Adduction With Extended Elbow – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: Extensor carpi radialis longus, abducens pollicis
Adduction is simply the movement of a body part toward the body’s midline. Preferably standing up, extend your arm at the elbow completely and while keeping the hand adducted (the little finger is brought closer toward the forearm) press on the area of the thumb with your opposite hand.
By keeping the elbow extended you are working all of the target muscles, otherwise you’d be focusing mostly on the muscles surrounding the fingers. Let’s not forget that some of the muscles being stretched in this exercise are bi-jointed, meaning they cross both the elbow and the wrist.
- Hand Pronation With Extended Elbow
Hand Pronation With Extended Elbow – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: Supinator, abducens pollicis longus, extensor pollicis longus
As with the previous exercise, we start standing up by extending our elbow completely and putting the hand in a pronated position (it is turned as if pouring a pitcher of water), helping the downward-inside movement with the opposite hand.
Stretching the target muscles here is not easy because natural bone limits usually prevent it. This is why in this exercise we combine two movements in order to take the muscles to their maximum extension. Our pain rule applies here as well – if you feel pain you are taking things too far.
One interesting point to note is that pronation and supination of the forearm are not generated by the wrist, as it first appears. The wrist, in fact, lacks these two movements. The rotation is produced from the elbow, and it involves both the arm and the forearm muscles.
30. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Standing Quadriceps Stretch – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: Quadriceps
Standing up (while leaning against a support for balance) flex your knee and hold on to the front of the ankle-joint (the dorsal medial aspect of the foot), raised using the hand on the same side of the body as the flexed leg (left leg with left arm and right leg with right arm). By pressing the heel of the foot against the glutes, you will stretch your quadriceps.
The hip should not be flexed, nor should you lean the torso, but if you extend the hip a little bit backwards on the side that is being worked, you can get a good stretch on one portion of the quadriceps, the bi-jointed rectus femoris.
On the other hand, if the hip moves in the opposite way (raising the knee in front of the body but maintaining the rest of the posture as is) you will be putting emphasis on the vastus lateralis and medialis of the quadriceps, taking some tension off the rectus femoris.
- Seated Quadriceps Stretch
Seated Quadriceps Stretch – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: Quadriceps
Seating on top of your heels, preferably upon a padded surface, extend the hip allowing the trunk to fall backwards in a controlled fashion.
In this exercise, leaning the body backwards extends the quadriceps. This position also makes the hip flexors participate.
While an effective exercise, if the discomfort inherent with this position troubles you, feel free to skip it as the muscles worked may be stretched with other more comfortable and effective exercises.
- Quadriceps Stretch With Assistance
Quadriceps Stretch With Assistance – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: Quadriceps
The person performing the stretch lies down in a decubitus prone position, flexing at the knees. The assisting partner presses upon the metatarsals of his feet, bringing them closer to the gluteus.
The risk of injury here is also almost nonexistent. The majority of people will notice that they are able to touch their gluteus with their heels. Therefore, the partner can use his/her full bodyweight upon the person stretching, who at no point should feel any pain.
- Soleus Stretch
Soleus Stretch With Semi-flexed Knee – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: Soleus
Standing and holding on to a support, push one leg backward and – with the knee semi flexed – plant the entire sole of the foot on the ground in such a way that the tension is felt in the area of the soleus (below the gastrocnemius). The forward leg remains in semi-flexion, supporting the weight of the body.
It’s important to keep the knee in flexion in order to place more emphasis on stretching the soleus. Note: the point of maximum stretch is achieved by gently placing the heel of the back leg on the ground. The most common way of adjusting the tension over the soleus is to gradually bring the knee closer to the wall without lifting the heel off the ground.
- Seated Hamstring, Gastrocnemius and Soleus Stretch
Seated Hamstring, Gastrocnemius and Soleus Stretch – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: Ischiotibial muscles, gastrocnemius, soleus
Seating on the ground flex one leg over itself by bending the knee and resting the heel of the foot upon the adductor muscles of the opposite leg. The leg that is being stretched must remain with the knee extended. Now from this position, flex the hip slowly, lowering the trunk toward the outstretched leg.
During the exercise, the spinal column and the head must remain aligned. People with limited flexibility tend to flex the trunk over itself, believing that they are stretching the hamstring by getting closer to the front leg, which should be avoided.
- Stride – Iliopsoas Stretch
Stride – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: iliopsoas
From a standing position, bring the body forward with a great stride without lifting the back foot off the ground. From this position, flex the back knee transferring most of the bodyweight to the front leg. The front knee must remain in a position just above the foot, never going beyond it. You can gently lower the weight of the trunk vertically by bringing the pelvis toward the floor to increase the stretch.
With this simple exercise we can really work the hip flexors. To keep balance, you can rest your hands on the front leg or a side bench, as balance is vitally important in order to be able to perform the exercise correctly.
If we had to choose only one exercise to stretch the iliopsoas, this would be it, because of its simplicity and effectiveness.
- Iliopsoas Stretch With Assistance
Iliopsoas Stretch With Assistance – Stretching – thehealthsciencejournal.com
Muscles involved: Iliopsoas