Best Stretches For Flexibility: Gain More Range Of Motion

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: April 1, 2024
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One of the first things I work on with all my new clients is coming up with a simple and effective stretching routine. As a certified personal trainer, I’ve had a lot of experience seeing how people struggle because of a lack of flexibility and a limited range of motion.

To help our readers implement the same kind of approach, I decided to get the help of a physiotherapist to come up with a list of stretches for improved flexibility.

The best part is that doing some of these will only take a few minutes.

Quick Summary

  • Flexibility stretches like the standing hamstring stretch, butterfly stretch, and side stretch can work wonders for your range of motion in different joints.
  • Doing these on your rest days while also taking some natural supplements will also speed up your recovery process.
  • Commit to stretching exercises 3–4 times weekly for optimal results, not limited to enhanced flexibility, improved mental well-being, cognitive abilities, and muscle pain relief.
  • Having seen the transformative effects firsthand, I'm convinced that regular stretching, especially with the hip flexor stretch and reclining bound angle pose, is key to maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Stretching For Flexibility

Two people doing stretches outside

Here are the stretches that my physiotherapist recommends for general lower and upper body flexibility.

Standing Quad Stretch

We’re going to start with the stretching exercises for your legs using a static stretching technique that is vital for leg mobility and increased strength, as shown by studies published by Frontiers in Physiology [1].

All you might need is a chair or door frame to hold onto for balance: 

  • For the standing quad stretch, stand close to a door or chair with both feet on the ground.
  • Bend your right leg and reach for your right ankle with your right hand.
  • Use your left hand for stability on the chair, and pull your ankle towards your buttocks.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and switch to the other side.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

A person doing standing hamstring stretch

This is a vital stretch to prevent hamstring injuries, whether you’re heading to the gym or participating in any kind of sports activity.

It’s a simple process that will only take a minute to complete: 

  • For the standing hamstring stretch, stand with both feet on the ground and close together.
  • Lower your body down and reach your hands down to your feet while keeping your legs straight.
  • Grab hold of your calves or ankles and gently pull your body towards your legs.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat it one more time.

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

This is a yoga-style stretch that you do on the floor, so make sure you have your favorite exercise mat ready.

I've seen several of my clients use this stretch to great effect, especially those who sit at desks all day.

They've reported feeling less hip tension and more ease in movements after incorporating this into their routine.

Here’s what to do:

  • Lie down on your back with your knees slightly bent and your feet on the floor.
  • Bring your soles together and lower your knees down to each side.
  • Rest your arms beside your body, and try to lower your knees as far as possible.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat for a second set.

Chest And Shoulder Stretch

A person doing chest and shoulder stretches

This is one of the most effective ways to stretch your shoulders and chest.

And it couldn’t be easier to achieve: 

  • Stand close to a wall with your nose almost touching it.
  • Raise your left arm perpendicular to your body until your hand is shoulder-high with the elbow straight.
  • Place your palm on the wall, and then turn your body away from your left hand while pushing your shoulder blades together.
  • You’ll feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold this position for 20–30 seconds.

Related: Best Chest and Shoulder Workout

Spinal Twist Lunge

This is one of those stretching exercises that will target your legs, hips, back, and chest all at once.

It just takes a bit of balance and getting used to:

  • Take a large step forward with your left leg and bend the left knee to 90 degrees.
  • Your right leg should remain straight, and now reach for the ground beside your left foot with your right hand.
  • Twist your body and extend your left hand to the ceiling.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and repeat on both sides.

Triceps Stretch

A person doing stretching for triceps

Tricep stretch is an important one to introduce on your arm workout days, but it’s also a great way to reduce tightness from sitting at a desk for a long time.

I recall a client who often complained about arm stiffness. After regularly doing this triceps stretch, they felt a noticeable difference in arm flexibility and reduced discomfort.

Here’s what to do:

  • Stand or sit with your spine straight.
  • Reach your left arm up towards the ceiling and then bend your elbow.
  • Your left hand should come down to your left shoulder blade.
  • Use the other hand to push your elbow back and achieve a nice stretch in the triceps.
  • You can also introduce a neck stretch by tilting your head to the right.

Knee-To-Chest Stretch

We’re now moving onto the hips with a simple stretch on your yoga mat: 

  • Lie down flat on the ground with your legs stretched out.
  • Bend the right knee and bring the right thigh towards your chest while keeping the left leg straight.
  • Use your hands to pull the right knee closer to your chest and hold it for 30 seconds.
  • Do the same on the opposite leg.

Incorporating this stretch before bedtime can significantly improve sleep quality, especially in managing sleep disorders.

Butterfly Stretch

A person doing butterfly stretches outside

This is another important stretch for your hip flexors to maximize the range of motion in your hip joints, as shown in Physiopedia [2].

Here’s what to do: 

  • Sit on your yoga mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  • Slowly lower your knees down to each side and get your soles to face each other.
  • Use your hands or elbows to push the inner thigh of each leg further down.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat a few times.

Side Stretch

This is a great stretch for your obliques as well as your shoulders:

  • Get into a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent slightly.
  • Bring your hands together over your head with both arms straight.
  • Tilt your body to the left as far as you can, and feel the stretch go from your hips to your fingertips.
  • Hold it for 20 seconds, then do the same on the other side.

Hip Flexor Stretch

And the final stretch I have for you is another one for the hip flexors to increase the range of motion forward and backward.

In my experience, this stretch has been a game-changer for some of my clients, particularly those with sedentary jobs. They've found it effective in alleviating lower back pain and improving hip mobility.

  • Get into a kneeling position with your left foot in front of you and your right knee on the ground.
  • Lean forward on your left thigh and try to push your pelvis forward as far as you can.
  • You’ll push the left leg forward and feel the stretch along your quad and hip.
  • Repeat the same process on the other leg.

How Often Should You Do These Stretches?

A person stretching her upper body

Commit to stretching exercises three to four times weekly for optimal results.

Incorporating these stretches before and after gym sessions enhances flexibility and prevents injuries.

Regular practice not only boosts physical flexibility but also mental well-being, reducing stress and anxiety.

Research indicates these exercises improve cognitive abilities, including memory and focus.

This holistic benefit extends from better posture at your desk to enhanced gym performance.

I've seen clients who adopt morning and evening stretches, as advised by the Mayo Clinic, experience significant relief from muscle tension. [3].

“Improving your flexibility and range of motion with a regular static stretching routine may help you be able to do things you couldn't do before.”

- Michael Lau, PT, DPT, CSCS

Related Articles:

FAQs

What Is the Best Stretch for Flexibility?

The best stretch for flexibility might be the standing side stretch. It’s one of those movements that stretches the maximum number of muscles, all the way from your hips up to your shoulders. A hip flexor stretch is also a great option, as it can help with the lower-body range of motion.

How Long Does It Take To Get Flexible?

It takes about two to four weeks to get more flexible. If you spend ten minutes a day stretching, then the results will be noticeable after just two weeks. As with other training, the more you do it, the faster you’ll see improvements.


References:

  1. https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/physiology/articles/10.3389/fphys.2019.01468/full
  2. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Hip_Flexors
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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