Stretching exercises

Stretch after exercise to increase flexibility and look after your muscles.
Published 8 December 2015

Stretching exercises


Stretch it out
Stretching is a vital part of any workout. Not only is it a great way to improve muscle flexibility, but it improves, joint mobility and helps reduce muscle tension and soreness. Make sure you factor in the time for stretching at the end of each workout. It’s also a great way to help you wind down and relax post-exercise.

Warm up
Only stretch when your muscles are warm, just after you’ve finished your workout. You don’t need to be sweating or huffing and puffing though.

Stretch out
Stretching while warm prevents injury, improves posture and helps stop soreness. You shouldn’t stretch when your muscles are cold as this can lead to injury.

Hold it
You should be doing static stretches. That’s where you hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, maintaining each position until you feel some resistance. Complete all six stretches during a session.


1. Ear to shoulder

Stretches: Your neck.
How-To: Standing tall, gently drop your left ear towards your left shoulder. Ensure both shoulders are level at all times. You should feel a stretch down the right side of your neck – the side that is lengthened. Bring your head back to centre and repeat on the other side.

2. Half cobra

Stretches: Your stomach

Equipment: A mat or towel

How-To: Lie on your stomach with your palms face down beside your head and fingers forward. Keep your forearms in a straight line on the floor. Raise your chest up so that your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders. Keep your elbows, hips and belly button on the floor and your chin tucked in to your chest.

3. Hug stretch

Stretches: Your lower back and bottom

Equipment: A mat or towel

How-To: Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Hug your shins or the back of your thighs. Keep your entire back, head and shoulders on the floor during the stretch.

4. Pectoral stretch

Stretches: Your chest

How-To: Standing tall, clasp your hands behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Adjust the height of your arms so that you feel a comfortable stretch across your chest and the front of your shoulders.

5. Quadricep stretch

Stretches: The front of your thigh

Equipment: A mat or towel

How-To: Lie on your stomach. Rest your forehead on your left hand and look at the floor. Bring your right heel towards your bottom and take hold of your foot (hold your sock or pants if this is too difficult). Push your hips into the ground and keep your knee in a straight line from the hip. Release and swap sides.

6. Hamstring stretch

Stretches: The back of your thigh and calf

Equipment: A fit strip and mat or towel

How-To: Lying on the floor, bend your knees and keep your entire back, head and shoulders in contact with the floor. Raise your right leg and, holding onto the two ends, hook a fit strip around the foot. Straighten the leg and draw it in towards the body.

Tip: To make the stretch less intense, keep the knee bent. To increase the stretch, flex your foot, bringing your toes down towards your face.