Proper Stretching Exercises for Maximum Flexibility

When done properly, stretching exercises can do more than just increase flexibility. Benefits of stretching include:

  • enhanced physical fitness
  • enhanced ability to learn and perform skilled movements
  • increased mental and physical relaxation
  • enhanced development of body awareness
  • reduced risk of injury to joints, muscles, and tendons
  • reduced muscular soreness
  • reduced muscular tension
  • increased suppleness due to stimulation of the production of chemicals which lubricate connective tissues (see section Connective Tissue)
  • reduced severity of painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) in females

Unfortunately, even those who do a lot of stretching exercises do not always stretch properly and hence do not reap some or all of these benefits. Some of the most common mistakes made when stretching are:

  • improper warm-up
  • inadequate rest between workouts
  • overstretching
  • performing the wrong  stretching exercises
  • performing exercises in the wrong (or sub-optimal) sequence

All our personalized exercise programs include 3 phases of stretching exercises. Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. We will try to show you how to avoid these problems, and others, and present some of the most effective methods for realizing all the benefits of stretching. Each stretching exercise program will include.

  • Warming Up
  • Cooling Down
  • Massage
  • Elements of a Good Stretch
  • Some Risky Stretches
  • Duration
  • Breathing During Stretching 
  • When to Stretch
  • Stretching With a Partner
  • Stretching to Increase Flexibility
  • Pain and Discomfort
  • Performing Splits

Warming Up

Stretching is not warming up! It is, however, a very important part of warming up. Warming up is quite literally the process of "warming up" (i.e., raising your core body temperature). A proper warm-up should raise your body temperature by one or two degrees Celsius (1.4 to 2.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and is divided into three phases:

  1. general warm-up
  2. stretching
  3. sport-specific activity

It is very important that you perform the general warm-up before you stretch. It is not a good idea to attempt to stretch before your muscles are warm (something which the general warm-up accomplishes).

Warming up can do more than just loosen stiff muscles; when done properly, it can actually improve performance. On the other hand, an improper warm-up, or no warm-up at all, can greatly increase your risk of injury from engaging in athletic activities.

It is important to note that active stretches and isometric stretches should not be part of your warm-up because they are often counterproductive. The goals of the warm-up are an increased awareness, improved coordination, improved elasticity and contractibility of muscles, and a greater efficiency of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems." Active stretches and isometric stretches do not help achieve these goals because they are likely to cause the stretched muscles to be too tired to properly perform the athletic activity for which you are preparing your body.

General Warm-Up

The general warm-up is divided into two parts:

  1. joint rotations
  2. aerobic activity

These two activities should be performed in the order specified above.

We listed a 7 minute stretching program to give you an idea on what is included in our personalized exercise programs. If you want a really good stretching program along with a resistance training workout that is tailored just for you sign up now and get your online program within 12-18 hours.

Stretching Exercises Program - 7 Minute Stretching Routine

This stretching program consists of 14 different stretches for the entire body and is intended for any individual on a limited time schedule.

NOTE: It is very important that the stretches be done in the exact order listed.

Back Stretch

Kneel on floor on hands and knees. Tuck chin in towards chest as you round back upwards feeling mild tension through the back. Hold 5-10 seconds.


Back Stretch

Release and lift up head and tail bone reversing the arch in the back to a downwards arch, feeling mild tension through the back. Hold 5-10 seconds. Repeat each 2 times.


Abdominal Stretching

Lie face down on floor with palms down on floor, directly under shoulders, toes pointed. Exhale as you extend arms straight, keeping head in line with the spine. Feel mild tension through the abdominals. Hold 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times.


Torso Stretch

Stand with feet outside shoulder width, toes pointing straight ahead. Place right hand on right hip for support and reach left arm up and over head, bending torso to the right. Feel mile tension up through left side of torso. Hold 5-10 seconds. Repeat on other side.



Kneel on floor, with palms flat, fingers pointing back toward knees. Slowly lean backwards, keeping palms flat to the floor. Feel mild tension through the wrists and forearms. Hold 5-10 seconds.


Triceps Stretching

Either sitting or standing. Drop chin down to chest, and reach right arm straight up overhead, palm forward. Bend elbow and drop right hand to back of neck, now palm facing in. Reach overhead with left arm and grasp just below the right elbow with the left hand, gently pulling the right arm to the left. Feel mild tension in the back of the right upper arm. Hold 5-10 seconds, repeat on other side.


Chest Stretch

Either sitting or standing, extend arms straight out to the side, with palms forward. Relax neck as you press straight arms back a hold, feeling mild tension through the chest. Hold 5-10 seconds.


Shoulders Stretch

Either sitting or standing, with shoulders square, reach across body with right arm, and with left hand holding right arm just beyond elbow, press right arm closer in to the body, feeling mild tension in the shoulder. Hold 5-10 seconds, then repeat on left.


Lower Back/Buttocks Stretch

Lie on floor, with both knees bent, feet flat on floor. Keeping feet and knees together, lift feet off floor, reaching around behind knees with hands, hugging knees into chest, while keeping back flat to the floor. Hold 5-10 seconds.


Inner Thigh Stretch

Sit tall on floor with knees bent, bottoms of feet together, feet close to body. With hand on knees, lean chest forward slightly as you push knees down. Feel mild tension in inner thigh. Hold 5-10 seconds.


Quads Stretch

Stand holding wall or chair for balance. Bend right knee up behind you as you reach back and grasp right ankle with right hand, keeping the knee close to the body, pulling the heel towards the buttocks. Feel mild tension in front of thigh. Hold 5-10 seconds, repeat on other side. BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVER STRETCH THE KNEE.


Calves Stretch

Stand about 12 inches away from wall. Place forearms against wall and lean forward. Step back with the right leg, keeping the right leg straight and press the right heel down. Feel mild tension in the right calf. Hold 5-10 seconds, repeat on other side.


Hamstrings Stretch

Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees soft (slight bend), toes pointing straight ahead. Bend forward at the hips and reach hands around the ankles. Feel mild tension in back of upper right leg. Hold 5-10 seconds, repeat on other side.