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34 Stretches to Improve Every Muscle of the Body, with Illustrations

In case you didn’t know, people have largely lost touch with the roots of human health, and to avoid the consequences of the modern lifestyle which fills the body with poison it’s good to do things like stretch.

Ever try stretching or exercise, only to experience a bad cramp or similar symptoms? You’re probably suffering from something that the vast majority of the population is afflicted with these days, 98% of Americans: potassium deficiency.

Potassium is an essential mineral for human health, involved with the basic processes of our brain, the transmission of electricity between neurons in our brains, as well as the function of our muscles and the heart. A proper balance between potassium and magnesium is necessary for heart and muscle health, as a proper balance between potassium and sodium is necessary for brain function.

Unfortunately, this is one of the worst and most difficult to cure deficiencies in the human population today. Some people believe that there is even a potassium conspiracy, as our depleted soils are really the cause of potassium deficiency: vegetables and fruit don’t seem to have as much of it as they used to. The thing is, you can’t really take supplements of potassium that contain more than the amount of a banana, because it will apparently mess up your heart if you consume it this way.

A person would have to drink about 2 entire liter bottles of coconut water a day to get the daily recommended value of potassium, around 4,500 milligrams. Coconuts aren’t grown where the soil is depleted, unlike most fruits now.

So remember to get some potassium, some people suggest religiously drinking coconut water by the liter, several cups a day with orange juice mixed in to mask the flavor. You’re going to need it if you want to do these stretches.

When you go to stretch, here are the areas of the body that are used for different stretches. These illustrations were created by Vicky Timón, an expert on yoga and the author of a book titled “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises.”

1. Camel Pose

This one is supposed to be a stretch that requires a certain level of flexibility to accomplish. These muscles highlighted in the illustration are known as the external obliques and the rectus abdominus. To do the stretch, sit on your feels and rest your hands on your feet, as you push up and forward with your hips. You don’t want to put much pressure on your spine or neck.

2. Wide Forward Fold

This exercise can stretch the adductors and hamstrings. To start, bend your knees. As your muscles begin to release, straighten your legs slowly, reach for your feet and round out your back.

3. Frog Pose

This one works the adductors, as a “deep groin stretch.” Begin by resting on your hands and knees. Then, slowly open your knees until you feel the groin area stretching.

4. Wide Side Lunge Pose

This one is also for the adductors. Begin with both feet forward in a sort of wide stance, and then walk your hands to your right foot slowly while bending your right knee, rotating your left foot up.

5. Butterfly Stretch

This one highlights the adductors as well. While sitting, place the bottom of your feet together, and sit tall and strong. On your knees, place pressure with your hands. Then, slowly bring your feet farther from your hips.

6. Forearm Extensor Stretch

To stretch this muscle, push your shoulder down and back, and then rotate the shoulder externally. Apply position to your opposite hand and the stretch begins.

7. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck

Your SCM, or sternocledimastoid is improved by this stretch. Start by making your neck as long as possible, carefully while slowly dropping your ear down to your shoulder.

8. Neck Rotation Stretch

Also to stretch the SCM, which much be done with particular caution, rotate your neck slowly while making sure your chin is elevated.

9. Neck Extension Stretch

As the title suggests, work the SCM by placing your hands on your hips, keeping your spine straight. Then tilt your head back.

10. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck with Hand Assistance

The upper trapezius and SCM can be stretched if you keep your neck long, and slowly drop your ear on down to your shoulder.

11. Half Kneeling Quad / Hip Flexor Stretch

Your quadriceps and psoas are both worked by this stretch. Half-kneel, and then slowly bring your right hip forward. Hold onto your back foot, and carefully squeeze your back glute.

12. Forearm Extensor Stretch

To stretch this muscle, push your shoulder down and back, while externally rotating the shoulder. You can apply pressure using your opposite hand to begin it.

13. Lateral Shoulder Stretch

Your side deltoid can be stretched if you bring your arm across your body, and then gently apply pressure to the degree you feel capable of stetching your shoulder.

14. Standing Assisted Neck Flexion Stretch

To maintain health of your Trapezius muscle, stand with your feet together. Ensure you’re standing straight and tall, and slowly put your hips back, and round your upper back while moving your chin toward your chest.

15. Lat Stretch with Spinal Traction

Latissimus dorsi stretching can be accomplished if you hold onto a bar, and slowly lift off the ground. Shoulder injuries are not compatible with this exercise.

16. Lat Stretch at the Wall

For the aforementioned muscle, put both your hands in the corner of a wall or something similar. Stand tall with your spine while carefully moving your hips o the side. Lower back problems are not compatible with this stretch.

17. Child’s Pose

To exercise the muscle mentioned in the last two, start on hands and knees, slowly bringing your hips back until your forehead is on the floor.

To stretch your lats and chest muscles, arch your upper back and rotate your shoulders.

18. Standing Calf Stretch

To exercise the gastrocnemius and soleus, go to the edge of a stair step and very carefully do this. Gently rotate your ankles, in order to stretch the calf muscles.

19. Front Split

This one is more difficult. To stretch your hamstring and psoas, go into what is called a kneeling lunge position. Hip problems are not compatible with this stretch.

20. Seated Forward Fold / Seated Toe Touch

For the calves and hamstring, just sit and bend the knees like the illustration shows.

21. Single Leg Forward Bend

For the hamstrings, begin with one foot in front of you. Move your hands toward your hips with your back straight, then bend from the hips.

22. Deep Squat

For the glutes, stand with your feet wide, and gently apply pressure to the inside of your knees.

23. Seated Half King Pidgeon Pose

For the glutes as well, begin sitting and gently pull your leg manually up toward your chest, while rotating your hip with the spine straight.

24. Standing Calf Stretch at the Wall

For the gastrocnemius and soleus, get into a lunge position, with your back foot slightly turned out. Move your back heel toward the ground and you can stretch your calves.

25. Lateral Flexion at the Wall

For the external obliques, keep your spine straight and then push your hips to the side gently.

26. Supine Twist

For the external obliques and glutes, lay down on your back and move your leg across your body. Then, in the opposite direction slowly rotate your upper body.

27. Lateral Flexion with a Dowel

For the latissimus dorsi and external obliques, keep your spine straight and move your hips to the side with your shoulder rotated.

28. Triangle Pose

Also for the external obliques, begin in a wide stance, with your front foot directly in front of you, and your back foot at a square, 90 degree angle. Put your hand on your front leg, or lower toward the floor as you move back into your front hip with your back straight. This one is a bit more complicated.

29. Chest Stretch at the Wall

The pectorals can be exercised if you face the wall with your thumb up. Rotate away from the wall slowly to stretch the chest muscles.

30. Assisted Chest Stretch

For the latissimus dorsi and chest, lay down with your palms facing up. Your partner could help you stretch in a “deep squat.”

31. Seated Half Pigeon Variation

For the anterior tibialis, sit down with your feet forward and move one hand behind you, as you rotate the hip and bring a foot above your knee.

32. Supine Shoulder External Rotation Stretch

This one is for the subscapularis. Lay on your back, and move your arm straight out to one side, with your elbow at a square 90 degree angle. Move the back of your hand to the floor slowly.

33. Down Dog Variation at the Wall

For the pectoralis and latissimus dorsi, get far enough from a wall to where your body is parallel with the ground when you touch the wall. With your spine straight, hinge at your hips. Move your chest forward to make a slight arch in your upper back to stretch your chest muscles and lats.

34. Assisted Chest Stretch Variation

For the pectorals, lie face down with your palms also facing down as your partner pulls your hands back.

(Image credit: Vicky Timón via The Open Mind)

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