4 Triceps Stretches for Tight Muscles
The fourth and last part of our series on stretching exercises will focus on the most common muscle groups: the shoulders, arms, chest and back. These are the four major muscles responsible for holding up your body’s weight and strength. They’re also some of the hardest to work out, so it makes sense that they would receive a great deal of attention from any fitness enthusiast.
However, there are many other muscles that contribute to overall strength and health. Many of these are not as well known or appreciated, but they too deserve their time in the sun. So let’s get started!
How to Stretch Your Shoulders
In order to perform a proper shoulder stretch properly, you’ll need a firm surface like a table or floor. You’ll also want to have a partner hold onto one arm of you while another holds onto the opposite side. The goal here is to make sure that both of your arms are straight and parallel with each other.
You may notice that the muscles involved in this exercise aren’t very large, but if you keep them tight enough, they can certainly add size and definition to your upper arms.
Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and then switch arms.
After you’ve done this several times, you can also try twisting your torso to one side while keeping your arms in the same position. This adds yet another set of muscles involved in the stretch and works out any kinks you may have in your back.
How to Stretch Your Chest Muscles
One of the most widespread muscles in the entire human body is the pectorialis major. While everyone knows that working out your chest can give you a nice, full chest, it also helps to strengthen the shoulder girdle, and even the arms themselves. While it might be tempting to skip stretching your chest in favor of something else, you’re only shortchanging yourself.
To stretch this muscle group, you’ll want to lay down on your back with your knees raised and your feet firmly planted on the floor. Your arms should be bent at a 90 degree angle, and your hands should be clasped together straight above your chest. From here, you’re going to slowly bring both of your hands towards each other until you feel tension, but not pain. Hold this position for about 20-30 seconds.
This is a great stretch for the chest, but it also helps improve the flexibility of the shoulders.
How to Stretch Back Muscles
All it takes is a quick glance at the anatomy diagram in any high school health book to see just how many muscles are in your back. Of course, without the aid of expensive machinery or exercise equipment, it can be very difficult to target each one individually. This is why stretching is so important, to keep the muscles pliable and “young.” If you’re still unconvinced, just remember that the skin loses its elasticity as you grow older.
It only makes sense that the muscles underneath must suffer a similar fate.
The following stretch can be done either on your own or with a partner’s help. Lie face down on the floor or some other firm surface. Your legs should be together and your arms at your sides. Keeping your legs and arms straight, slowly raise your upper body off the floor until you feel a tension in your lower back.
Hold this position for about 20 to 30 seconds, and then slowly lower yourself back to the floor.
This can be performed 2-4 times in a row. After a short rest, you can repeat the cycle again.
How to Stretch Your Calves
If there’s one muscle group that all men dread having to work on, it’s their calves. There are several reasons for this. The main reason is that most men simply don’t like the feeling of their calf muscles working. They may even experience a “burn,” and this burns a nerve called the common peroneal nerve.
This burn can be lessened or eliminated altogether with proper stretching.
There are two main types of stretches that should be performed to target the calves. The first is an active stretch where you stand on your toes. The second is a passive stretch where you use your own bodyweight to provide the force to stretch the calf muscles.
To stretch your calves using an active method, you’ll want to place your heels up against a wall. Try to keep your knees straight, but this isn’t necessary. Place your hands on your hips for balance. Now, slowly raise up onto the tips of your toes as high as you can go.
Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and don’t be surprised if you start to feel the burn.
To stretch your calves using a passive method, you’ll simply place your heels up against a wall. Next, bend your knees until your legs are at a 90 degree angle. Make sure that your back is straight and that your hips and upper body are leaning against the wall. Now just slowly lower your upper body downwards as far as you can go.
Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, and then repeat.
An extra benefit of stretching in this way is that it will also stretch your hip flexors. These are a group of muscles that attach to the front of your pelvis and run down the front of the thigh. They are especially prone to becoming tight when you spend a lot of time each day sitting. So, in addition to getting your calves more flexible, you’ll also be improving the stretch of these other muscles as well.
How to Stretch Your Upper Back Muscles
We’re down to the final stretch and this one will be focusing on your upper back muscles. This is an important group of muscles as it helps many of your everyday movements such as lifting and carrying things.
When it comes to stretching this group, most men simply stretch their arms backwards. While this does provide a stretch to the upper back area, you’re only targeting one part of it. You’re really missing a whole bunch of other muscles that are further down.
To get a more complete upper back stretch, all you need to do is reach your arms straight out in front of you and then bend to the side as far as you can go. As you do this, you’ll feel a deep muscle stretch all the way down your upper back. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds and then do the other side.
After completing this final stretch, you’re done. That’s all there is to it. If you do these 5 stretches described in this article daily, you will see improvements in your overall flexibility and range of motion. This will allow you to move through life with greater ease and less tension in your muscles.
And all you had to do was five simple stretches!
Remember, flexibility isn’t just about how far you can stretch. It’s also about how far you can move through life without becoming stiff and immobile.
Sources & references used in this article:
The behaviour of the long-latency stretch reflex in patients with Parkinson’s disease by JC Rothwell, JA Obeso, MM Traub… – Journal of Neurology …, 1983 – jnnp.bmj.com
Acute effects of stretching on the neuromechanical properties of the triceps surae muscle complex by A Cornwell, AG Nelson, B Sidaway – European journal of applied …, 2002 – Springer
Muscle-specific acute changes in passive stiffness of human triceps surae after stretching by K Hirata, E Miyamoto-Mikami, H Kanehisa… – European journal of …, 2016 – Springer
Muscle stretching as an alternative relaxation training procedure by CR Carlson, FL Collins Jr, AJ Nitz, ET Sturgis… – Journal of behavior …, 1990 – Elsevier
Compensation for intrinsic muscle stiffness by short-latency reflexes in human triceps surae muscles by JH Allum, KH Mauritz – Journal of neurophysiology, 1984 – journals.physiology.org
Effects of warming up, massage, and stretching on range of motion and muscle strength in the lower extremity by M Wiktorsson-Moller, B Öberg… – … American journal of …, 1983 – journals.sagepub.com
Relationship between short-range stiffness and yielding in type-identified, chemically skinned muscle fibers from the cat triceps surae muscles by JG Malamud, RE Godt… – Journal of …, 1996 – journals.physiology.org