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9 Stretching Exercises That Can Replace a Massage Session

When we go to the gym, we often forget about stretching. But this is not a good idea, since stretching makes the body more flexible, improves our emotional state, and reduces pain. This set of exercises will also be useful for those who spend a lot of time in front of the computer. It’s recommended to do these exercises every day. By the way, you don’t even have to go to the gym to do them.

Bright Side thinks that stretching is extremely important to do to reduce tension in the body, so here are 9 exercises to make your neck, shoulders, and back feel better. You’ll just need 10 minutes of free time and a gym mat.

Neck stretching

The Owl exercise stretches the muscle that wraps from your sternum and collarbone to behind your ear.

  • Straighten up, with the upper part of body relaxed. Slowly turn your head to the right side until your chin is over your shoulder and parallel to the floor.
  • In this position, tip your chin downward toward your shoulder and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise on the other side. For a better effect, slightly hold your head with your right or a left hand respectively.

Stretching the neck and the upper part of the back (the upper trapezius muscles on the sides of your neck.)

  • In a seated position (on the floor or in a chair), keep your back straight and ground your hips into your seat.
  • Bend your arms at your elbows and put your palms on the back of your head just above your neck. In this position, tuck your chin to your chest.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly lift your head up and release your hands. You can also apply some pressure by actively pulling your head down with your palms.

Shoulder girdle stretching

Eagle pose stretches the back of the shoulders (deltoids) and the upper part of the back.

  • Reach your arms out to each side and then cross them in front of you, left elbow over the right elbow and hands pointing toward the sky.
  • If you can’t wrap your wrists so that your palms meet, place each hand on the opposite shoulder instead and tuck your chin toward your chest. Lift your elbows so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise after changing the position of your hands.

The 90, 90 stretches your deltoids and pectoral muscles.

  • Stand in a doorway, hold your arms up so your elbows are at a 90º angle and your arms form a 90º angle to your body at the shoulder.
  • Straighten your back and step with one foot forward. Lean forward.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.

Upper back stretching

This exercise stretches the back and the trapezius muscles.

  • Lift your right hand and straighten it up over your head. Bend your elbow so that your right hand touches your upper back.
  • Place the left hand on the right elbow and gently pull the right arm to the left. Then bend the body in a straight line to the left (making sure to not lean forward or backward.)
  • Hold this stretch for 20–30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Place the left hand on the right elbow and gently pull the right arm to the left. Then bend the body in a straight line to the left (making sure to not lean forward or backward.)

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Hold this stretch for 20–30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Butterfly wings stretch your back and chest muscles.

  • Place your palms face down on your shoulders (left palm on left shoulder and right palm on right shoulder). Pull your elbows back as if you were trying to touch them together until you feel a deep stretch throughout your upper back.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Then pull your elbows forward and touch them together in front of your body. Hold for 5-10 more seconds.

Lower back stretching

This exercise works on your back muscles, abs, and leg muscles.

  • Stand near the wall, lean into it until your spine is flat against it.
  • Slide down the wall slowly until your knees are bent at a 90º angle.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat 8-12 times.

Stand near the wall, lean into it until your spine is flat against it.

Slide down the wall slowly until your knees are bent at a 90º angle.

Rotation stretches work on the back and the core muscles.

  • Sit on a chair, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Twist at the core to the right, keeping your hips square and your spine tall. Place your hands behind your head.
  • You can place your left hand on your right knee or your right hand on your left knee. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat the exercise, twisting to left or right. Repeat 3-5 times.

Sit on a chair, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Twist at the core to the right, keeping your hips square and your spine tall. Place your hands behind your head.

Superman works your back extensors.

  • Lie down on the mat and stretch both arms out in front of you. Then raise both your hands and your feet.
  • Try to pull in your bellybutton to engage your other muscles.
  • Keep the head and arms straight. Hold for 2 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Bonus: How to get rid of back pain in one minute

These exercises are perfect even for a super busy person. It’s advised to lie on a flat, firm surface. Your back pain will start disappearing after the first practice. To completely prevent it do the set every day.

Do you do stretching exercises? What are your favorite ones?

Illustrated by Marat Nugumanov for BrightSide.me

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