Stretch your athletic potential by using flexibility training to create long, strong muscles. Within Reach

Looking for a way to counter a history of pulled muscles?
Many, many muscles — too many to count...

The common thread for all women is flexibility, or the ability of a joint to move in its full range of motion. Although each uses a different method, all advocate stretching to achieve the ends they desire.

 



Glute Stretch
Target Muscles — Glutes
To perform — Lie face up on the floor with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg so its ankle rests on the thigh of the bent leg. Grasp the stationary bent leg with both hands around the thigh, take a deep breath, exhale, and pull the leg off the floor and toward you. You should feel the pull in the glute of the leg that's crossing the other. Do both sides.
But — Make sure you put both hands around the back of the thigh of the stationary leg. This allows for a greater pull.
Neck Tilt
Target Muscles — Scaleni (neck muscles)
To perform — Stand with your head straight and shoulders squared. Take a deep breath and, as you exhale, slowly and gently tilt your head to one side, trying to touch your ear to your shoulder. Slowly go to the other side. For added stretch, place your hand on top of your head and gently (remember, this is your neck!) pull it toward the shoulder. This is a great stretch for stress relief because a lot of tension is carried in this area.
But — It wont work as well if you rotate your head or raise your shoulders. Also, avoid rapid or jerky movements. Never bend your head backward; doing so creates too much stress on the cervical spine.
 



Doorway Chest Stretch
Target Muscles — Pectorals
To perform — Stand in an open doorway (or next to a stable post) and raise your arm to shoulder height out to your side. Bend your elbow to form a 90 degree angle with your fingers pointing straight up. Place the bent arm against the solid surface, take a deep breath and, as you exhale, lean forward slightly. Do both sides.
But — Donut turn your body or hold your arms too high. 
Biceps Pull
Target Muscles — Biceps
To perform — Stand at arm's length and facing away from a doorway, stable post or any stable piece of equipment. Grasp the frame or pole, thumb down and arm turned inward. At full extension, take a deep breath and, as you exhale, try to roll your biceps so it faces upward. Do both sides.
But — Avoid moving your torso. The stretch should come from your biceps, not your body.
 



Overhead Triceps Pull
Target Muscles — Triceps
To perform — Raise one arm straight up overhead. Bend at the elbow so your hand drops behind your head. With the other hand, grasp the bent elbow, take a deep breath and, as you exhale, pull the elbow so your hand can move slightly farther behind your back. Do both sides.
But— Make sure your pulling hand comes over or behind your head. Avoid pulling too hard.
Standing Arms Raise
Target Muscles — Front deltoids, upper pecs
To perform — Standing or sitting up straight, interlace your fingers and turn your palms out as you extend your arms in front of you. Take a deep breath and, as you exhale, keep your elbows straight and slowly lift your hands over your head, bringing them as far back as possible.
But — If performing the stretch this way proves difficult, grasp a broom handle or towel using a wider grip and lift your arms over your head only as far as they will comfortably go.
 



Lateral Pull
Target Muscles — Deltoids, especially rear delts, and rhomboids
To perform — Bring one arm across the front of your chest with the elbow slightly bent. With the other hand, grasp the arm by the elbow, take a deep breath, exhale, and gently pull the arm closer in toward your body. Release, then do the other side.
But — Donut pull too hard. For a greater stretch, turn your head in the opposite direction of the pull.
Standing Quadriceps Pull
Target Muscles — Quadriceps
To perform — Stand up straight, holding a wall or anything nearby for balance. Slowly bend one leg back and grasp the ankle or foot of that leg with the same side hand. Take a deep breath, push your hips forward and, as you exhale, slowly try to touch the heel of the bent leg to your glutes. Do both sides.
But — Make sure the quadriceps of the bent leg remain even with those of the stationary leg. If you pull your leg too far backward, the stretch may involve the hip flexors. Make sure the ankle goes straight back — don't let it twist in or out, which may put undue stress on the knee joint.
 



Groin Stretch
Target Muscles — Thigh adductors
To perform — Sit on the floor with your back erect. Bring your feet together so your soles touch in front of you. Place your hands on your ankles and your elbows inside your inner thighs. Take a deep breath and, as you exhale, pull your feet in toward your body and slowly apply gentle pressure with your elbows on your inner thighs.
But — Donut round your back or press down too hard.
Standing Wall Lean
Target Muscles — Gastrocnemius, soleus
To perform — Stand at arm's length in front of a wall. Place your hands on the wall at about shoulder height and shoulder width apart. Bring one leg forward and bend it slightly at the knee. Keep your back leg straight with the heel firmly on the floor. Take a deep breath, exhale and slowly push your hips forward, keeping your back straight. Do both sides.
But — This is not a “wall push.” Donut push the wall, and don't turn your back foot in or out. For greater soleus involvement, slightly bend your back knee — but keep the heel on the floor.
 



Seated Hamstring Stretch
Target Muscles — Hamstrings
To perform — Sit upright on the floor with both legs extended in front of you. Bend one leg and slide the heel of that leg toward the knee or thigh of the straight leg. Slightly bend the knee of your “straight” leg. Keeping your back straight or slightly arched and your head in neutral alignment, take a deep breath and, as you exhale, slowly lean forward at the hip over the straight leg. Do both sides.
But — Never bring your bent leg behind you in a hurdler stretch. This puts dangerous pressure on the knee joint. Also, make sure there's some bend in the straight leg. Otherwise, much of the pull is centered on the popliteus muscle, which is directly behind the knee. Donut allow your back to round as you bend forward since this will greatly reduce the stretch on the hamstring.
Trunk Twist
Target Muscles — Lumbar rotators
To perform — Lie on your back with your feet in the air, knees bent to a 90 degree angle and arms out to your sides. Take a deep breath and, as you exhale, lower both legs to the floor on one side of you. Slowly lift your legs and switch sides.
But — Donut allow your shoulders, elbows or head to leave the floor.