Basic Stretching Routine

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.

7 Exercise Stretching Routine

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.
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Member Comments stretching...i feel stress leave my body after a good stretching routine... Report
Never can say enough about the basics of stretching. WE all need it! Report
"Sometimes in life, we need a few bad days in order to keep the good ones in perspective” ? Colleen Hoover, Maybe Someday ~ 2/6/18 Report
GREAT Report
good points Report
I love to stretch! I include many of these each time I stretch. Thanks! Report
Wonderful stretches! Report
Great stretches! Thank you! Report
These are great. Thanks for sharing. Report
TY !! Really like them. WISH I could add them to the Spark "TV" Report
I like the yoga inspired stretches they are so good for me & you too.
How do we track these stretches?? I love these and have started doing them every day! Report
I am suggesting a couple of mods: I'm too large to do the last exercise as noted, so my mod is to lay on the floor in my office and prop my foot against my desk (instead of grasping behind the knee). I get the same stretch but don't struggle into position.
I also modded the quad stretch because I get excruciating "charlie horse" cramps in my hamstrings when I do it correctly. Instead I hook my ankle over the arm of my desk chair and lean back into the stretch.
This is just what I was looking for, a basic all-over stretching routine that doesn't require me to be a yogi or dislocate a joint to get into position. So glad I found it! Report
Love these stretches. Only one the one putting your hand behind your back or should I say tou hing your elbow with the other hand don't work for me. Shoulder problem. Report
Thank you for putting this here I was worried about if I'd find a good basic stretching routine for my workouts. I think it'd be nice to have a warm up routine also added for us to choose from for the basic workouts you provide or even just for sections as I like to work out chest and arms one day, then legs the next, then core another day. Report


About The Author

Nicole Nichols
Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.
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