See Which Muscles You Are Stretching When Doing These 34 Exercises (Images)

You probably know that regular stretching is beneficial for everyone, starting from the chronic sitters to regular exercisers. By doing stretches, you improve your blood circulation through the muscles and help your joints get a full range of motion.

Moreover, having stretching as a habit means improving your posture and athletic performance by lowering the risks of pain and injuries. But when you do yoga stretches or flexibility exercises, do you know which muscles you are stretching and if you’re doing them right?

The focus while doing the stretches, should not be put on the duration, but to relax the muscles to their natural, resting position. This can be from 5 to 30 seconds. If you notice some stretch is not useful, try to change it.

1. Camel Pose

Targets the Rectus Abdominus and External Obliques muscles

This pose is perfect for people who are already well flexible. Sit on your heels and put your hands behind. Then start pushing your hips forward, but be careful not to put too much pressure on your lower back. If you have problems with your neck, drop your head backward.See-Which-Muscle-You-Stretch-When-Doing-These-34-Exercises

2. Wide Forward Fold

Targets the Adductor Muscles

This stretch is good for your hamstrings and adductors and helps in opening your hips. Bend your knees and keep your spine in a straight position. Once your muscles begin releasing, carefully straighten your legs. Lean your neck and try to touch your feet.

To release your calf muscles as well, make a light pull on the ball of your foot. If you can’t reach your feet, use a belt or a towel. If you do this exercise with your feet up on the wall, you will stretch your back.

3. Frog Pose

Targets the Adductor Muscles

This stretch focuses on your knees. Rest your body on your knees and hands, but make sure you do this on a soft surface. Then gradually spread your knees until you feel your groin muscles are well stretched. Push your hips back and forth, during which you will feel minor changes in the stretching.

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4. Wide Side Lunge Pose

Targets the Adductor Muscles

Start by putting your hands on the ground while your legs are wide apart. Bend your left knee while your hands are still on the ground, and stretch your right leg with the toes faced upwards. Take at least 3 deep breaths and repeat the same with the opposite side.

5. Butterfly Stretch

Targets the Adductors Muscles

Sit on the floor and bring your feet in front of you so that you touch the soles together. Slowly pull your feet towards your body with your hands holding your ankles. Lean your body forward with your back in a straight position. As your feet get closer to you, your groin muscles will be more stretched. However, don’t go over your comfort zone.

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6. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Targets the Forearm Extensor Muscles

Stretch your arm in front of you and parallel to the floor, and bend your wrist towards the ground while you are pressing the fingers with the opposite hand. Be careful not to hurt yourself and bend until you feel a slight stretch.

7. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck

Targets the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) Muscle

Try to extend your neck as much as possible. Slowly lower your ear towards the shoulder but keep the cervical spine. You can further progress this stretch if you sit on a chair and hold its bottom with your hands. In this way, you will make regular tension on your neck and arm

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8. Neck Rotation Stretch

Targets the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) Muscle

Rotate the neck with your chin at a bit raised position. In this way, you will isolate the SCM muscle. If you want a deeper stretch, use the opposite hand from the rotation to put further pressure.

9. Neck Extension Stretch

Targets the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) Muscle

In a standing position, place your hands on your hips, and extend your spine. Begin leaning your head backward maintaining your cervical spine.

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10. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck with Hand Assistance

Targets the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and Upper Trapezius Muscles

Extend your neck and slowly lean it to your shoulder. Keep your spine in cervical position. You can do this stretch while sitting on a hair, and holding its bottom with your hands. You will help target the upper traps, by creating regular tension on your neck and arm.

11. Hip Flexor Stretch / Half Kneeling Quad

Targets Psoas and Quadriceps Muscles

Bend the right leg, while your left leg is placed behind your body. Slowly bring your hips towards the front and for further stretching on the Hip Flexors, hold the foot that’s behind your body and press the back glute.

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12. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Targets the Forearm Extensor Muscles

Stretch your arm in front of you and parallel to the floor, and bend your wrist towards the ground while you are pressing the fingers with the opposite hand. Be careful not to hurt yourself and bend until you feel a slight stretch.

13. Lateral Shoulder Stretch

Targets the Side Deltoid Muscle

Extend your arm parallel to the floor and across your body. Press your shoulder slightly to increase the stretch.

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14. Standing Assisted Neck Flexion Stretch

Targets the Trapezius Muscle

Stand up with your feet placed together. Stretch your spine and place your hands behind your head. Bend your head towards your chest by slowly pressing it with your hands.

15. Lat Stretch with Spinal Traction

Targets the Latissimus Dorsi Muscles

Lift your feet slowly off the floor by holding the bar tightly. In this way, you will stretch both the chest and the Latissimus Dorsi Muscles. Don’t do this stretching if you have shoulder impingement, or if you had a recent shoulder injury.

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16. Lat Stretch at the Wall

Targets the Latissimus Dorsi Muscles

Position your hands on the corner of a wall or on a post, and slowly push your hips outwards to the sides while your spine is elongated. Don’t do this stretch if you have lower back problems.

17. Child’s Pose

Targets Latissimus Dorsi Muscles

Bend your knees, and extend your arms upwards so they touch the ground. To increase the stretch in your hips, widen your knees. Your upper back should form an arch. To stretch the lats and chest muscles, rotate your shoulders externally.

18. Standing Calf Stretch

Targets Gastrocnemius and Soleus Muscles

Stretch your calf muscles both inwards and outwards while standing on a rack or on the edge of stair steps.

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19. Front Split

Targets Hamstring and Psoas Muscles

This is not a stretch for beginners as well as for people with hip problems. Start with kneeling lunge position, or support yourself on a chair as your hip will flexor and your hamstrings will release.

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20. Seated Forward Fold / Seated Toe Touch

Targets Hamstring and Calfs Muscles

Sit down with your legs stretched in front of you. Touch your feet with your hands while your legs are stretched. If you are a beginner, it’s normal to bend your knees a little so that you can reach your feet. But over a period, you will be able to do this exercise with stretched legs. Your spine should be kept in straight position if you suffer from any type of back problems. You can also do this if you lay on the back and place your feet on the wall.

21. Single Leg Forward Bend

Targets the Hamstring Muscle

Place one foot in front of the other one, and your hands on the hips. Your back should remain in a straight position. Then, slowly bend your body forwards, while your front leg is stretched.

22. Deep Squat

Targets the Glutes Muscles

This stretch will affect your entire body. But, if you have knee problems, do squats before you try this exercise.

Stand up with your feet shoulder wide apart. Then, gradually squat as you are about to sit in a chair, and get your weight on your heels. Come down with your knees faced outward, and keep your torso upright. You can also do this exercise while you lie on the back and your feet pressed against the wall.

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23. Seated Half King Pigeon Pose

Targets the Glutes Muscles

Sit down, stretch one of your legs, while the other should be pulled to your chest. Keep your spine in a straight position while rocking your raised leg side to side. You will feel the stretch in your glute.

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24. Standing Calf Stretch at the Wall

Targets Gastrocnemius and Soleus Muscles

Start in a lunge position, and your back foot should be turned a little outwards. Stretch your calf muscles by slowly moving your back heel to the floor.

25. Lateral Flexion at the Wall

Targets the External Obliques Muscle

Lengthen your spine and slowly move your hips outwards to the sides. If you have lower back problems, avoid this stretch.

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26. Supine Twist

Targets the Glutes and External Obliques Muscles

This stretch is ideal for those dealing with sciatic pain. Lie down on your back, with one leg across your body. While moving the head to one side, move the body to the opposite direction. Take deep but slow breaths to open up your rib cage, the hip area, and the sacroiliac joint without putting too much pressure on the lower back.

An easier option is to do this exercise with your knees touching each other. When the knees are in higher position, you will feel a lot stretching on your upper spine. When they are in a lower position, the stretching will be more on your lower spine.

27. Lateral Flexion with a Dowel

Targets Latissimus Dorsi and External Obliques Muscles

Lengthen your spine, and they slowly push your hips outwards to both sides. In the same time, rotate your shoulder externally. If you have lower back problems, don’t do this stretch.

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28. Triangle Pose

Targets External Obliques Muscles

In a standing position, widen your feet with one foot in front of the other. During the exercise, your back should be at 90 degrees. Place your hand on the lower part of your front leg, and bend your upper body from the hip joint, and not from the waist. Extend the other arm towards the ceiling.

29. Chest Stretch at the Wall

Targets the Pectorals Muscle

While you are facing a wall, put your left arm flat on the wall with the fingers turned to the left side. Bend the opposite arm behind you. Slowly move your feet to the right, and stop once you feel a good stretch in your left shoulder and chest. Keep this position for half a minute, and then go back to the initial position. Repeat with the other arm.

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30. Assisted Chest Stretch

Targets Chest and Latissimus Dorsi Muscles

Lie down on your back and stretch your arms above your head. Then, someone in a deep squat position should pull your arms so that you feel the stretch in the chest and lats. This will also cause a bit traction in the spine. Don’t do this stretch if you suffer from shoulder impingement.

31. Seated Half Pigeon Variation

Targets Anterior Tibialis Muscles

Sit down with your legs stretched in front of you. Place one foot above the opposite knee, one hand behind your body, and slowly bend forwards to increase the stretching.

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32. Supine Shoulder External Rotation Stretch

Targets Subscapularis Muscles

Lie down on your back, and position your arm outwards to the side with your elbow at 90 degrees. Gradually bring your hand to the ground, and if it remains at a distance from the floor it means that there’s tightness in your rotator cuff and other muscles that control the internal rotation.

33. Down Dog Variation at the Wall

Targets the Latissimus Dorsi and Pectorals Muscles

Bend your body so that your torso is parallel to the floor, and your arms touching a wall or a rack. Keep your spine in a straight position, and push your chest inwards so that you form a small arch in the upper back. In this way, your lats and chest muscles are stretched. If you have tight hamstrings, you can bend at the knees.

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34. Assisted Chest Stretch Variation

Targets the Pectorals Muscles

Lie down on your stomach, and someone should pull your arms backward so that you feel a deep stretch in the chest muscles. Don’t do this stretch if you have shoulder impingement.