Flexibility exercises

Friday 31 May, 2013

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On this page: Shoulder stretch ι Triceps stretch ι Pectoral and biceps stretch ι Qudriceps stretch ι Calf stretch ι Hamstrings and lower back stretch ι Lower back stretch ι Bird-cat ι Reviewers

Shoulder stretch

Muscle group: Shoulder
Technique: Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Pull one arm across your chest. Keep your elbow just below your shoulder–line. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise for the other side.

A illustration of how to do a shoulder stretch

Triceps stretch

Muscle group: Triceps
Technique: Lift one arm with your elbow bent and your forearm down your back. Using the elbow as a lever, pull the arm down your back. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Perform the exercise for both sides.

A illustration of how to do a triceps stretch

Pectoral and biceps stretch

Muscle groups: Chest and shoulder
Technique: Stand near a wall or a pole. Raise one arm to your side at shoulder height and hold the wall or pole with your hand. Partially turn your body away from the arm holding the wall/pole. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Perform on both sides.

A illustration of how to do a pectoral and bicep stretch

Quadriceps stretch

Muscle group: Quadriceps
Technique: Stand on one leg, with a wall or chair for support if necessary. Hold your foot with your hand and pull the leg toward your buttocks by the ankle. Keep your trunk straight. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Perform for both sides.

A illustration of how to do a quadricep stretch

Calf stretch

Muscle group: Calf
Technique: Stand facing a wall with feet parallel. Step one foot back, stand with one foot in front of the other and feet parallel. Lean forward against a wall and partially bend your front leg. Keep your back leg (stretching leg) completely extended, with your foot flat on the floor – move it backwards until you feel the stretch. Perform for both sides.

A illustration of how to do a calf stretch

Hamstrings and lower back stretch

Muscle groups: Hamstrings and lower back
Equipment: Elastic resistance band and bench
Technique: Sit with one leg extended on a bench. Put the elastic tight around your foot with your back upright and straight. Loosen the elastic band by leaning forward from the hips. Keep your back straight. Alternatively stand on one leg with the other foot on a step (about 30cm high). Lean forward from the hips, pushing your chest towards your knee. Keep your back straight. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Perform on both sides.

A illustration of how to do a hamstring and lower back stretch

Lower back stretch

Muscle group: Lower back
Equipment: Chair
Technique: Sit on a chair or bench. Lean forward with your feet on the ground and knees partially bent. Curl your trunk forward and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

A illustration of how to do a lower back stretch


Muscle group: Core stability
Technique: Start on all fours. Start by extending one leg while supporting the trunk with both arms on the floor. Pause in the extended position for 5 to 10 seconds, then slowly return to all fours. Change sides and repeat the same position. Maintain normal breathing. The bird-cat can also be performed lying over a fitball, which can be a useful alternative for people with bad knees who find it difficult to kneel. Increase the difficulty by slowly extending one leg and the opposite arm at the same time.

A illustration of how to do a bird-cat stretch

Reviewed by: Dr Prue Cormie, Senior Research Fellow, Edith Cowan University Health and Wellness Institute WA; Steve Pratt, Nutrition and Physical Activity Manager, Cancer Council WA; Kate Aigner, Cancer Information Consultant, Cancer Council ACT; Simone Guise, Exercise Physiologist, Cancer Council WA; Christine Hygonnet, Education & Information, Cancer Council SA; Dr Amanda Horden, Bayside Healthy Living, VIC; Jenny Mothoneos, Publishing Editor, Cancer Council NSW; and Andrew Murnane, Exercise Physiologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC.

Updated: 31 May, 2013