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Basic Stretching Routine

7 Stretches for a Full-Body Flexibility Workout
  -- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor
Stretching is good for you, and it feels great, too! That's why we created this short and effective full-body stretching routine that you can follow whether you're a beginner or an advanced exerciser. Remember to warm up first and never stretch to the point of pain. For more stretching tips and guidelines, refer to our Reference Guide to Stretching.

Hold each stretch listed for 15-30 seconds, repeating two or three times, depending on how you feel. For detailed instructions and larger photos, click on the name of each stretch.

Neck Stretch
Sit or stand with shoulders relaxed, back straight. Bring your left ear down toward your left shoulder and hold. Roll your head down toward the ground and bring your chin to your chest. Hold and finally, roll your head to the right and bring that ear to your right shoulder. Inhale and exhale in a slow and controlled manner.

Hamstring Stretch
Stand tall with back straight, abs engaged, shoulders down, and feet hip-width apart. Bring your left leg forward, heel down, toes up and leg straight. Keeping back straight and abs engaged, bend the right knee as if sitting back, while supporting yourself with both hands on your thighs. Repeat on opposite side.

Quad Stretch
Stand tall, holding on to a chair or wall for balance if necessary (not pictured). Keep your feet hip-width apart, your back straight and your feet parallel. Reach back and grab your left foot in your left hand, keeping your thighs lined up next to each other and left leg in line with the hip (not pulled back behind you). Repeat on opposite side.

Chest and Biceps Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright (not pictured). Interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten you arms. With arms straight, lift arms up behind you while keeping your back straight and your shoulders down. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears.

Standing Triceps Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright (not pictured). Place your left elbow in your right hand. Reach your left arm overhead, placing palm on the center of your back and supporting the elbow in your right hand. Reach your fingertips down your spine. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Repeat with opposite arm.

Back Stretch
Come to hands and knees with your hands shoulder-width apart, knees hip-width apart, abs engaged, and back flat (spine neutral). Engage your abdominals as if pulling your naval toward your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Allow the head and neck to fall naturally between the arms.

Hip and Gluteal Stretch
Lie on your back with your legs extended and your back straight. Keep your hips level and your lower back down on the floor. Bend your left knee, placing left foot flat on the floor (not pictured). Cross your right ankle at your left knee. Grab the back of your left thigh and hug your legs toward your chest. Place your right elbow on the inner portion of your right knee and push it slightly to the side. Repeat on opposite side.