6 Pictures to See Which Muscle You’re Stretching
January 14, 2016 by BeYoungBeGreen.com
[Note: Adapted from original blog entitled “36 Pictures to See Which Muscle You’re Stretching”. However, not all of the 36 diagrams were actually accessible with instructions. Therefore, these are the most complete diagrams currently available. More info may be posted later as info becomes available.]
It doesn’t matter if you’re a chronic sitter, a daily exerciser, or a weekend warrior, most understand the benefits of stretching; it sends the blood stream to your muscles and offers your joints assistance in moving through their full scope of movement. Stretching enhances your stance and athletic execution while reducing your risk of pain and injury.
However, when you do yoga or a flexibility routine, do you know which muscles you’re actually stretching? Or whether you’re performing each stretch correctly? With this knowledge, you can pick the best stretches for your specific goals. Furthermore, if you ever feel pain – and I don’t mean stretchy sort of pain, but the “Whoa, something doesn’t feel right” sort of agony – you can pinpoint the muscle giving you problems and modify your stretch to avoid injury.
If you feel pressure or strain on your joints, you’re pushing too much, so you should only feel these stretches in the belly of the muscle. As you stretch, focus on your breathing and move through the movements as naturally as possible.
Don’t worry about how long you’re stretching, focus on feeling how your muscles relax and getting them back to their natural, resting lengths, which takes 5 to 30 seconds for each muscle. If you think that you didn’t get anywhere with a specific stretch, try a different position.
These illustrations were created by Vicky Timón, a yoga expert and author of “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises,” and James Kilgallon, CSCS, creator of Mazlo’s Body Maintenance Program.
1. Camel Pose
Muscles Targeted: Rectus Abdominus and External Obliques. This stretch is reserved for people who already have good flexibility. Sit on your heels and place your hands behind you and push your hips up and forward. Avoid putting too much pressure on the lumbar spine. If you have problems with your neck don’t drop your head back.
2. Wide Forward Fold
Muscles Targeted: Adductors. This is a good exercise to open the hips, and stretch the adductors and hamstrings. Keep your knees bent and leave your spine straight. When your muscles start to release you can straighten your legs, round out your back, and reach for your feet. Pull on the bottom of the balls of your feet to release the calf muscles. If you can’t reach your feet you can use a belt or towel. Also, you can do this stretch lying on your back with your feet up the wall.
3. Frog Pose
Muscles Targeted: Adductors. This is a deep groin stretch that can place pressure on your knees so it’s good to be on a soft surface. Start with resting on your hands and knees and slowly bring your knees wider until you feel a good stretch in your groin muscles. You can feel minor variations in the stretch as you push your hips back and forward.
4. Wide Side Lunge Pose
Muscles Targeted: Adductors. Start with your feet forward in a wide stance and put your legs as straight as possible. Slowly walk your hands to your right foot while bending your right knee and rotating your left toes up to the ceiling, sitting into your right hip. Keep your right foot flat on the ground.
5. Butterfly Stretch
Muscle Targeted: Adductors. Start in a seated position and bring the soles of your feet together and sit tall through your sit bones. Progress this stretch by placing pressure on your knees with your hands. The closer your feet are to your body the more you will stretch your groin muscles. Bring your feet farther from your hips and slowly round your upper body to release your back muscles.
6. Forearm Extensor Stretch
Muscles Targeted: Forearm Extensor. Start with packing your shoulder down and back. Then externally rotate the shoulder for the optimal position to stretch the forearm muscle. Once in this position, apply pressure to your opposing hand to begin the stretch. You can progress this stretch by touching the tips of your fingers together in a tea cup shape.
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Sources and References:
BeYoungBeGreen.com (2016). “36 Pictures to See Which Muscle You Are Stretching.” BeYoungBeGreen.com. BeYoungBeGreen, published 14 January 2016. Accessed 4 April 2016. <http://beyoungbegreen.com/36-pictures-see-muscle-youre-stretching/>
Image Credit: BeYoungBeGreen.com, <http://beyoungbegreen.com/36-pictures-see-muscle-youre-stretching/>. Published 14 January 2016. Accessed 4 April 2016.
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