20 stretches to soften your body gently

Whether you are an experienced athlete or a beginner, stretching (literally "stretching") allows you to gain flexibility, relax, or to stretch before or after your session. This gentle gym has multiple benefits that improve our well-being: soften the muscles, acquire a graceful gait and posture, good support, relieve stress ... 

Other benefits of stretching: it maintains the youth of the joints by promoting joint lubrication and prevents muscle pain. All muscle groups can benefit from the benefits of these stretches: the abdominals, adductors, back muscles, leg muscles, lumbar, calves, pecs, and quadriceps. The postures should be performed slowly, without straining and breathing deeply. Here are 20 stretching exercises that are good for both mind and body.

knees to chest

Movement: Lying on your back, gazing up at the ceiling, bring your legs back to your chest and hold them with your forearms. To intensify the stretching, gently rock from left to right without changing position, to massage your lower back.

Benefits: This posture is perfect for stretching the lower back and relaxing the lower back. This relaxing exercise helps create decompression in the joint between your lower back and the sacrum.

Cobra pose

Movement: On the floor on your stomach, place the palms of your hands at shoulder height. Extend your arms and push your chest and torso away from the floor. Release your abs and move your shoulders away from your ears. Look far towards the ceiling and breathe deeply. Be careful to respect the flexibility of your back.

Benefits: This yoga posture strengthens the lower back and lumbar muscles and helps to stretch and strengthen the deep muscles of the belly.

butterfly pose

Movement: Begin in a seated position and bring the legs up to have the heels touching, keeping the legs closest to the pelvis. Exhale as you bring your knees closest to the floor, hold the position by contracting for at least 1 second. Then inhale as you return to the starting position. And start over.

Benefits: This movement allows above all to stretch and strengthen the adductors but it also relaxes the hip joints (femur) by making them more flexible.

Lower back stretch

Movement: Lying on your back, hug your knees together and put your arms outstretched. Tilt your knees to one side and turn your head to the opposite side. Make the move to the other side.

Benefits: This stretch relieves lower back pain, however, care must be taken to perform it slowly.

Neck stretch

Movement: Raise one arm then rest the palm on the opposite temple and tilt the head to the side. Keep your shoulders low.

Benefits: This stretching exercise stretches the scalene, the muscle on the side of the neck, and prevents neck pain.

Calf stretch

Movement: Lean against a wall, arms almost straight. Bend one leg close to the wall, the other stays straight at the back. Shift your weight forward, you should then feel the muscles on the back of your thigh and calf stretch. Keep your back straight. Change legs.

Benefits: This exercise stretches the calves, which are prone to stiffness, and allows muscles to relax and maintain their flexibility.

Shoulder stretch

Movement: Standing, cross your right arm in front of you at shoulder height. Take your elbow with your left hand. Pulling to the left, across your chest, take a deep breath. Repeat for the other arm.

Benefits: This exercise primarily stretches the posterior deltoid, but also the mid-deltoid and upper back muscles.

Stretching the back of the thigh

Movement: While seated, straighten one leg and fold the other against the inner side of the opposite thigh. Lean forward and try to touch your foot or ankle.

Benefits: This posture makes it possible to stretch the hamstrings, the muscles of the thighs as well as to relax the legs and thus prevent lower back pain.

Triceps stretch

Movement: While standing, raise one arm above your head, bend your elbow, palm against your upper back. Use the free hand to gently press on your elbow.

Benefits: An exercise that allows the stretching of the triceps and the relaxation of the muscles of the arms.

Abdominal stretch

Movement: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, gradually flex your torso to the left, extending your arm above your head. When you feel the stretch in your oblique muscles, hold the position for about 15 seconds and then perform the same movement on the other side.

Benefits: This exercise allows you to stretch the back but also the obliques, the oblique muscles located on the side of the abdomen.

Cat pose

Movement: On all fours, bring the knees hip-width apart and the hands below the shoulders. On one breath, start to dig your back, without forcing. Then in the exhale you will round your back as much as possible, tuck your chin towards your chest as if a thread was pulling your back upwards.

Benefits: The cat pose (in yoga Marjariasana) allows the spine to be supple and the stomach to relax.

Forward bending

Movement: Legs straight, try to touch your feet with your hands. If you do not succeed, take it gradually without forcing. Inhale and stretch the chest to lengthen the spine.

Benefits: This exercise is ideal after physical effort. It stretches both the hamstrings, the back muscles, and the abdominal muscles; it also relaxes the spine as well as the hips and allows deep relaxation of the shoulders.

Stretching the triangle muscle

Movement: On your back, put your left ankle on your right thigh. Then bring the right knee to the chest, placing both hands under the thigh. Breathe deeply and hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Release, then repeat, placing the right-left ankle on the left thigh.

Benefits: This stretch can stretch the piriformis and prevent or relieve sciatica.

Bird pose

Movement: Position yourself on all fours. Then lift one leg as you bend toe up. With the hand on the same side, grab the top of the foot. The goal is to maintain balance as long as possible.

Benefits: This balanced posture calls on many muscle groups. This stretching is therefore ideal for the entire silhouette!

Glute stretch

Movement: Sitting on the floor, back straight, bend and cross one leg over the other than bring the knee towards you, back straight and bust facing towards the stretched buttock. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs, then repeat this gluteus minimus stretching exercise several times.

Benefits: This exercise uses the small and medium buttocks muscles and allows you to stretch the piriformis, a deep muscle of the hip.

Child pose

Movement: Kneeling with your head on the ground, keep your buttocks resting on your heels, your back straight and your head tucked in. Extend your arms above your head and put your hands as far as possible. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

Benefits: This posture relaxes the lumbar region, the latissimus dorsi, and relieves the lower back.

Quadriceps stretch

Movement: Lift your foot and gently grab your foot from the back. One difficulty in this exercise: you will have to keep your balance. If you lack balance, you can lean against a wall. Do this exercise for each leg. Remember to retroversion your pelvis (orient it slightly forward) and tighten your buttocks so as not to arch your back.

Benefits: The quadriceps are the four muscles that make up the front of your thigh. They are constantly in demand and need to be stretched so that they keep their flexibility and develop more easily. This is a classic quadriceps stretching exercise. It limits the risk of injury, direct or indirect.

Latissimus dorsi (back) stretch

Movement: With the feet apart a little wider than the pelvis and the abs tight, crisscross the hands above the head. Then tilt the hands and chest to one side, keeping the pelvis stable and the stomach tucked in, do the same on the other side.

Benefits: This stretch involves the external obliques and the 

Downward dog

Movement: Start on all fours, resting on the hands and knees. Hands are shoulder-width apart, fingers wide apart, knees hip-width apart. Get on your tiptoes pus, slowly push your pelvis upward, straightening out your arms and legs. Push the floor back with your hands to bring the torso towards the thighs. Lengthen your back as much as possible. You can bend your knees. Release your head and especially breathe deeply.

Benefits: Inversion accessible to all, this pose stretches and works the body as a whole. It is particularly excellent for bodybuilding and relaxation of back tensions.

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