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34 Pictures That Show You Exactly What Muscles You’re Stretching


Stretching is an essential component of both exercise and health, as it helps to maintain flexibility and range of motion in your joints. It is easy to forget to stretch before a workout, perhaps because we do not know exactly why it is that stretching is so important. Well, stretching improves muscle development, increases range of motion, reduces your chances of an injury and provides a warm-up for your muscles. When your muscles are more flexible, the body can perform activities and exercise with the correct form; therefore, stretching also helps to improve posture.

So stretching is important. But what stretches work for what muscle groups? Vicky Timón, a yoga expert and author of “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises,” created 36 beautiful illustrations to show you which muscles are affected by different stretches.

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  1. Camel Pose: Best reserved for those with good flexibility, the muscles highlighted in this stretch are the rectus abdominus and the external obliques. Sit on your heels and place your hands on your feet as you push your hips up and forward. Avoid putting too much pressure on your neck or spine.
  2. Wide Forward Fold: This is a great exercise to open the hips while stretching the adductors and the hamstrings. Start this stretch with your knees bent. As your muscles begin to release, slowly straighten your legs, round out your back and reach for your feet.

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3. Frog Pose: This is a deep groin stretch that works the adductors. Start by resting on your hands and knees and slowly widen your knees until you feel stretching in your groin muscles. Move your hips back and forward to feel slight variations.

4. Wide Side Lunge Pose: This is another stretch for the adductors. Start with both feet forward in a wide stance, and slowly walk your hands to your right foot while bending your right knee and rotating your left toes to the ceiling.

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5. Butterfly Stretch: This stretch highlights the adductors. Start in a seated position and bring the soles of your feet together and sit tall. Place pressure on your knees with your hands. Bring your feet farther from your hips and slowly round your body to release your back muscles.

6. Forearm Extensor Stretch: To stretch your forearm extensor, start by pushing your shoulder down and back, then externally rotate your shoulder. Once in position, apply pressure to your opposite hand and begin to stretch.

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7. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck: This stretch highlights your sternocleidomastoid or SCM. Keep your neck as long as possible while slowly dropping your ear to your shoulder. You can progress this stretch by being seated on a chair and grabbing the bottom of the seat.

8. Neck Rotation Stretch: To stretch the SCM, slowly rotate your neck while keeping your chin elevated. For a deeper stretch, apply


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