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Stretching Tips

Stretching Tips

Do you power-walk and lift weights but fall short on stretching? If so, you’re missing a key part of your fitness program.


  • Helps prevent activity-related injuries.
  • Keeps joints and muscles limber and flexible.
  • Improves coordination, balance, circulation and posture.
  • Relieves stress.
  • Feels fantastic!
  • Do not bounce or bob—this is not effective and can lead to injury.
  • Stretch slowly to the point where you feel slight tension; you should not feel pain.
  • Never stretch torn or injured muscles unless you have consulted your doctor.
  • Hold each stretch 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Complete each stretch for both sides of your body, when applicable.
  • Repeat each stretch 3 to 5 times.
  • Don’t hold your breath.
  • Stretch 3 to 7 days per week.

Stretching doesn’t take a lot of time. Try it during a break at work or while watching TV.

To get started, try these basic stretches and check out our stretching tips (below).

Stretching the Shoulders
  1. Shoulders

  2. Get on your hands and knees. Use a mat or towel for comfort.
  3. Place your knees hip-width apart with your hands directly under your shoulders. Flatten your back.
  4. Sit back on your legs so you’re resting on your heels. Stretch your arms in front as you rest your forehead on the floor (use a small pillow if this puts too much strain on your back).
  5. Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Stretching the Chest
  1. Chest

  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your chin down and your hands clasped behind your back.
  3. Pull your shoulders down and back so that your shoulder blades are touching.
  4. Tighten your abdomen so that your lower back does not arch.
  5. Hold for 10 - 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
Stretching the Amrs & Shoulders
  1. Arms & shoulders

  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Reach up with your right arm, bend your right elbow and bring your hand down between your shoulder blades.
  4. With your left arm, reach up and grab your right elbow, pulling your elbow toward your head.
  5. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and return to the start position.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Stretching the Lower Back
  1. Lower back

  2. Lie on your back, with your hands behind your head, elbows on the floor.
  3. Keep your feet and legs together; bend your legs at the knees so your thighs and calves are at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Roll both knees to the right while keeping your shoulders on the floor.
  5. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and return to the start position.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Stretching the Neck & Trapezius

Neck & trapezius

  1. Keeping your shoulders relaxed, tilt your head to the right side.
  2. Slowly look down at the floor.
  3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds at the point of mild stretch.
  4. Return to the start position.
  5. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.


  1. Lie on your back with knees up and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your right leg up and hold behind the knee with both hands.
  3. Pull the leg toward your chest to the point of a mild stretch. Keep only a slight bend at your knee.
  4. Hold for 10 - 30 seconds, return to the start position.
  5. Repeat on the left side.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

Tip: If you cannot comfortably reach your knee, try wrapping a towel behind it.

All-over back

  1. Stand while holding onto a stationary object with both hands.
  2. Bend at the waist pushing your hips back. If necessary, step forward in order to place your feet well ahead of your center of gravity.
  3. Hold on tight with your hands, but relax your upper arms and shoulders. Round your back, bend your knees and drop your hips down and back to increase the stretch.
  4. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, return to the start position.
  5. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
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