Upper Body Stretches

Why do I need to Stretch?
Sitting in front of a desk 5 – 6 days a week, running after the kids and daily home chores, light and heavy physical labour – all in their own way can wreak havoc on your body.

This is even more especially so because the majority of us do not have and are not particularly careful or knowledgeable about our posture.

Taking time to do some basic stretches to suit your particular needs will not only help increase your flexibility, they will also reduce tension and stress whilst allowing you to do your tasks more efficiently, with more safety against injury and discomfort, whether it be with short term moderate or long term serious effects.

The stretch should be done until you feel a slight pulling of the muscle, but not pain. As you hold the stretch the muscle will begin to relax. Then as you feel the tension easing, you can increase the stretch again until you feel the same slight pulling. Hold this position until you feel no further increase.

Instructions
1 – Shoulders, Arms and Upper Back
Posture: Stand upright with knees slightly bent.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Shoulders, Arms & Upper Back.

Interlace the fingers and slowly raise the arms above your head. Once you have reached the maximum then stretch the hands upwards as high as possible. Maintain a tall posture at all times and relax the whole body except for the muscles being stretched. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Don’t arch the lower back. Try to keep the abdominal muscles tucked in. It is also possible to do the stretch whilst walking slowly, which often helps to relax the body & take strain off the lower back.


# 2 – Chest, Shoulders and Arms
Posture: Stand upright with knees slightly bent.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Chest, Shoulders & Arms

Interlace your fingers behind you back.Slowly turn your elbows inwards whilst lifting your arms.Don’t lean forward or you will lose the stretch.Keep the back relaxed and straight.Hold the stretch for 20 seconds.Try to keep the abdominal muscles tucked in. It is also possible to do the stretch whilst walking slowly, which often helps to relax the body & take strain off the lower back.


3 – Shoulders & Triceps
Posture: Stand upright with knees slightly bent.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Shoulder & Triceps.

Lift the left elbow and drop the left hand behind your back. Take hold of the left elbow with the right hand and slowly pull the elbow in a backwards and upwards direction.Hold the stretch or 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.Try to keep the abdominal muscles tucked in. It is also possible to do the stretch whilst walking slowly, which often helps to relax the body & take strain off the lower back.


4 – Chest, Upper back & Shoulders Stretch
Posture: Stand upright with the knees slightly bent.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Chest, Shoulders & Upper Back.

Extend the arms out to the sides at shoulder height.Bend the elbows slightly so that the elbows are not locked.Pull the shoulder blades back and whilst holding this position, slowly move the hands and wrists backwards & forwards for 20 seconds


5 – Shoulders & Triceps
Posture: Stand upright with the knees slightly bent.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Shoulder & Triceps.

Hold under your right elbow with the left hand whilst your arm is swung across your upper chest with the hand hanging loose over the left shoulder.

Now push back slowly on the elbow with the left hand until you feel a comfortable stretch.

Hold for 20 seconds and slowly release. Repeat the stretch with the left arm across the chest and the right hand pushing the left elbow backwards.


6a – Shoulders & Upper Back Stretch
Posture: Stand upright with the knees slightly bent, or sit.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Shoulders & Upper Back.

Twine your hands and arms as show. Right hand holding the left elbow & left hand the right elbow. Then see the next stage of the stretch below in # 6 b.


6b – Shoulders & Upper Back Stretch.
Posture: Stand upright with the knees slightly bent, or sit.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Shoulders & Upper Back.

Continued from # 6 a above.
Inhale before starting to raise the elbows to above the head, then exhale on the upward movement. Hold for 5 seconds and lower to the start position. Repeat for 4 repetitions.Then change the hands & elbows and repeat the 5 seconds hold and lower as before.


7 – Neck & Facial Muscles
Posture: Stand upright with the knees slightly bent, or sit.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Neck and face.

Relax the upper body and without forcing, slowly move the left ear to the left shoulder whilst keeping the head looking straight ahead. Hold for 15 seconds.Repeat on the right side.


8 – Neck & Facial Muscles
Posture:Stand or Sit upright.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Neck and face.

Relax the upper body and without forcing, slowly tuck the chin in to the top of the chest. Don’t collapse the shoulders back. Hold for 15 seconds.


9 – Neck & Facial Muscles
Posture:Stand or Sit upright.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Neck and face.

Relax the upper body and without forcing, slowly tuck the back of the neck in to the top of the spine. Don’t move the shoulders back. Hold for 15 seconds.


10 – Neck & Facial Muscles.
Posture:Stand or Sit upright.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Neck and face.

Relax the upper body and without forcing, slowly turn the head to the right whilst trying to keep the chin level. Don’t move the shoulders back. Hold for 15 seconds.


11 – Forearms & Wrists Stretch.
Posture:Start on all fours, back straight.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Forearms and wrists.

Turn the hands around so that the fingers are facing the knees. Thumbs pointing outwards.

Move slowly backwards keeping the hands flat on the floor as you feel the stretch in the front of the forearms.Hold for 20 seconds.


12 – Shoulder & Back Stretch.
Posture:Start on all fours, back straight.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Mainly the shoulders, but also the arms, latisimus dorsi (lats) and upper back. Great as a tension reducer.

Reach as far forward as possible with your arms. At the same time, sit back on to your heels. Press the palms in to the floor and pull the arms backwards without the hands actually moving.


13 – Shoulder, Hip & Back Stretch.
Posture:Stand upright with knees slightly bent and feet shoulder width apart.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Shoulders, Hips and Back.Great as a tension reducer.

Raise both arms above your head. Inhale before reaching as far upwards as possible with say the right arm, allowing the right hip to stretch with it. Exhale as you do the movement. Inhale and relax the right arm and repeat the procedure with the left arm whilst exhaling on the upward stretch. Do at least 10 repetitions on each side.


14 –Hip & Lower Back Stretch.
Posture:Sit upright in a chair with feet shoulder width apart.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:Hips and Lower Back.

Place the right hand on your right knee. Inhale before turning the upper body and head to the left whilst exhaling. Don’t bend the shoulders forward. Keep the upper body upright and relaxed. Hold the extended position for 5 to 8 seconds before turning the body to face forward and repeat to the right side with the right arm now behind the chair.

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