Importance of Muscle Stretching & Effective Upper Body Stretches
Body stretching keeps the muscles in good conditions. Regular stretching in right process, not only enhances flexibility of muscles, but also makes the muscles ready to withstand against any unforeseen strains. Upper body part comprises of some very important muscles like biceps and triceps. There are also some important muscles in shoulder, neck and back that are used for any form of regular activities. Thus, keeping the muscles in good condition is important.
Importance of Muscle Stretching
Muscle stretching is important for keeping the muscles active and less prone to external injuries. Several studies have proved that stretching before practice sessions or the actual performance improves performance of the sports persons. Regular stretching also minimizes activity-based injuries to a great extent.
So, some immediate benefits of muscle stretching can be summarized as follows -
- Muscle stretching improves flexibility of the body
- Stretching the muscles eases joints, thereby enhancing the normal and full range motion of the joints
- Stretching improves performance in physical activities
- Enhances blood flow to the muscles.
Thus, with the help of right stretching exercises, body remains fit for daily workouts and normal activities.
Effective Upper Body Stretches
Stretching exercises for upper body allows an individual to stretch the following body parts thoroughly -
Effective Upper Body Stretches- For Neck:
There are different stretches that could be performed for neck. However, the following three stretches for the neck is really important -
- Head Tilt Forward Stretches for Neck: The performer needs to stand up with his back straight and tilting the head down towards the chest. After a short pause in the above posture, the head is to be brought back to the normal position.
- Head Tilt Sideway Stretches for Neck: The performer needs to stand up straight and then needs to tilt the head sideways towards the left shoulder. Then the head is to be tilted back to its starting position and it is again to be tilted to the right shoulder. This is to be performed for 5-10 minutes for getting smooth and painless movements.
- Head Left-to-Right Rotation Exercise for Neck: In this stretching exercise for neck, the performer needs to stand up with his back straight and rotate the head to the left. After rotating the head back to the normal position, same procedure is to be followed to the right side. These two steps are to be performed consecutively for some time.
Effective Upper Body Stretches for Shoulder:
Like stretching exercises for the neck, there are different stretching exercises for shoulder as advised by experts. Here are two most popular stretching for shoulder -
- Arm-in-Front Shoulder Stretch: The performer needs to grab the right elbow in front of the chest using the left hand. Stretching by pulling the elbow towards the chest for several seconds is required and same process is to be practiced for the other shoulder.
- Upper Arm-up Shoulder Stretch: Standing up straight the performer needs to grab the right elbow up on the side of the head using the left hand. Stretching up by pulling the elbow slowly towards the back of the head and holding for several seconds is an immensely beneficial shoulder stretching. The same process is to be followed on the other side too. This exercise helps in stretching shoulder and triceps muscles.
- Arms Behind Back Stretch for Shoulders: In this stretching exercise, the performer needs to stand straight and put the left hand behind your back over the left shoulder and the right hand behind the back against the lower back. Initially for some days it would not be possible to hold the hands from behind but slowly one can reach the other hand. However, the performer must keep the hands in that stretching position for 30 seconds. This exercise is mainly for the shoulders muscles.
Simple Hand Stretches:
The most important muscles of the hand are the biceps and triceps as it assists in weight bearing and any other given task. The simple yet effective stretches for these muscles and the entire hand are -
- Triceps Stretches: This exercise stretches the triceps very scientifically and improves its flexibility. To perform it, one needs to stand on the knees slightly bent, with the back straight and shoulders relaxed but not slumping. The right arm is to be raised up so that the elbow points to the ceiling and the right palm rests on the back just below the neck. Now using the left hand, the right elbow is to be pulled closer to the head, in such an order that the right hand travels down the back a few inches more. This posture is to be maintained for 15 to 30 seconds. Same is to be performed in the opposite direction too.
- Biceps Stretches: To perform this exercise, one needs to sit on the floor with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor in front of the body. The upper body part is to be supported by placing the hands about a foot width apart behind the torso. Holding the hands still, the upper part of the body is to be pulled towards the feet until a gentle stretch is felt in the front of the arm and the chest. This posture is to be hold for 15 to 30 seconds before coming back to the previous position.
Effective Upper Body Stretches for Chest:
Here is the best stretching exercise for chest –
- Chest Stretch with Exercise Ball: Stand in front of a wall facing it. Hold an exercise ball in between the wall and the chest keeping one hand on top of the ball and the other hand below the ball. Now the performer needs to push the ball with the chest without altering the standing position. More he will try to push the ball more stretching will take place in the chest muscles. This is also known as retraction of the chest.
Effective Stretches for Upper Back:
The following stretching exercise is exceptionally good for upper back –
The Shoulder Blade Squeeze Exercise: The performer needs to begin by standing or sitting in an upright posture, with the back straight and arms down at two sides or elbow bent. The person now needs to squeeze the shoulder blades toward each other as far as possible and hold that position for a few seconds. The shoulder blades are to be released back to the starting posture. Taking a few seconds rest, the same activity is to be repeated two more times.
Effective Middle Back Stretches:
Stretching exercises for middle back are often overlooked by people who are eager to strengthen different parts of their bodies. Here are some important stretching exercises for middle back –
- Upward Stretch: To complete upward stretch, the performer needs to stand upright with the torso away from the back of a wall. Now, he needs to lift the right arm up over the head. The hand is to be kept on lifting as high as possible, and then the hand is to be brought down in resting position once again. The same thing is to be repeated with the other arm also.
- Rotations: This stretching exercise is to be performed in sitting position. While sitting on a chair with both the arms resting on two sides of the torso, a slight rotational movement to the left and place your left arm across the back of the arm rest and right arm across the front of the arm rest of the chair. Now, keeping the hips and legs in unmoved position, the torso is to be rotated from this position to a forward position and back again. Same process is to be repeated in the opposite direction too.
- Toe Touches: To practice this stretching, one needs to sit on a chair with the feet flat on the floor in front. Keeping the back straight, the person needs to bend from the torso and touch the toes with both hands. Then he needs to rise back up to the upright position.
Simple and Effective Back Stretches:
This is the easiest back stretch, which most individuals can perform quite easily and comfortably. The following exercise, also known as Cat and Camel exercise is to be performed serially –
- For performing this exercise, one needs to stand on knees and hands with the lower part of the legs projected backwards and hands supporting the rest of the body.
- Slowly, the head is to be raised upward while belly to open downward. In this position the spinal cord will be bent like a bow.
- Next, the position of the belly and spine are to be reversed with the head now projected downward.
- With coordinated breathing, the above mentioned two positions are to be practiced one after another 5-10 times.
Abdominal Muscle Stretches:
Following is the best stretching exercise for abdomen –
- For practicing it, one needs to lie down on the back on an exercise ball.
- Stretching is to be practiced by spreading arms and legs.
- This exercise stretches the abdominal muscles and increases flexibility of this part.
Tips to Prevent Injury While Stretching
Getting injuries during exercise is not unusual. So, one must follow some important tips to avoid injuries while performing stretching exercises –
- Getting a thorough check done by expert physician will reveal any unidentified problems in the muscles. Otherwise, he could confirm that an individual is just perfect to perform any stretching exercise.
- Visiting a trainer is always feasible. He can tell perfectly how to perform each stretching exercise.
- It is better to increase intensity and time of exercise gradually, rather than abruptly.
- One should not try stretching exercises in empty stomach.
- One should give attention to the body's natural signals. If some unusual pain or uneasiness is felt, it means exercises need to be stopped for the time being.
Stretching Exercises for Prevention of Injury
Stretching is the best way to increase flexibility of the muscles and prevent multiple injuries. Some researchers have established that increased flexibility indeed prevents injuries to a large extent which is why athletes, high jumpers, swimmers and many other sportsmen focus on stretching exercises particularly.
Stretching can solve lots of muscular issues in the upper body part, but one needs to perform these stretching exercises in proper ways and on regular basis to obtain maximum benefits out of them. Stretching exercises for upper body part are not at all tough; however, one needs to be very attentive while performing these exercises and note the body's natural response.