5 Best Triceps Stretches to Avoid Injuries (From a Trainer)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 22, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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I always shudder when I see people at the gym who never do any stretching as part of their exercise program.

Not only can this simple habit relieve muscle tension after a tough workout, but it’s also one of the best ways to prevent injury.

The area we’re focusing on with clients is triceps stretches.

So, we teamed up with a physical therapist to give you five simple ways to begin stretching your triceps the right way.

Quick Summary

  • The best tricep stretches to avoid injuries are horizontal tricep stretches, overhead tricep stretches, towel stretches, leaning tricep stretches, and dynamic arm swings.
  • Stretching your tricep helps avoid strain on tendons and ligaments.
  • According to studies published by the National Library of Medicine, doing a few stretches after a workout can increase blood flow and reduce muscle soreness.
  • I've found that tricep stretches not only aid in muscle recovery but also play a key role in achieving peak arm workout performance.

5 Top Triceps Stretches

1. Horizontal Tricep Stretch

Horizontal Tricep Stretch

In my experience working with clients, I've found this stretch particularly effective for those who spend a lot of time at a desk.

Here's how to do it:

Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, raise your left arm, and stretch it out across your chest about shoulder height.

Grab hold of your left shoulder joint with your right hand, and then use your right forearm to gently push your elbow towards your chest.

Hold this stretch for about 5 seconds, and then switch to the right arm.

Interestingly, variations of this stretch have been observed in traditional yoga practices from India, where it's often used to enhance upper body flexibility and balance.

2. Overhead Tricep Stretch

Overhead Tricep Stretch

For the overhead triceps stretch, stand up straight and lift your left arm straight above your head.

Now, I've found this stretch particularly effective for the long head of the triceps, which plays a crucial role in arm movements and varies slightly in structure among individuals.

Bend the left elbow until your left hand reaches for your shoulder blade, and then use the right hand to gently pull the elbow back.

This is a static stretch, meaning that it’s best to hold it for about 5 seconds before switching to the right arm.

3. Towel Stretch

Triceps towel stretch

Start with a similar position to the overhead stretch, but this time your elbow will point to the ceiling and your right elbow to the floor.

You’ll then use a rolled-up towel with one end held in each hand, and then use that towel to pull the left hand down. It’s a great way to really stretch the long head of the triceps.

Keep the stretch for 5 seconds, and don’t forget to do the same for the right triceps.

4. Leaning Triceps Stretch

Leaning Triceps Stretch

Start in a kneeling position in front of a workout bench and lean forward until your elbows are on the bench and your upper arms are next to your head.

Now push your shoulders down so that they dip below the bench while your left and right elbow remain above it.

This is a deeper stretch for the upper arm muscle group, and you may even feel it in your upper back.

5. Dynamic Arm Swings

Dynamic Arm Swings

All the above triceps stretches are static, so we thought it would be best to add one dynamic stretch as well. Keep your arms straight and lift them up beside your body.

Then start swinging them across your body and back again to create short stretch moments.

You can also do forward and backward circles with your arms, where the larger the circle, the more of a stretch you’ll achieve.

Related: What Are The Best Biceps Stretches?

Incorporating these stretches into your daily routine, such as during short breaks at work or while watching TV, can significantly enhance your tricep flexibility and overall arm health.

Why Is It Important To Stretch Your Triceps?

man flexing his biceps showing his back, and a woman stretching her arms on a yoga mat

Based on my own experience and that of my clients, here are four reasons why you should aim to do a few quick triceps stretches on your arm days at the gym.

  • It will improve your range of motion, loosen the joints, and help you avoid strain on tendons and ligaments.
  • If you do a few stretches after a workout, you could increase blood flow, reducing muscle soreness, as shown in studies published by the National Library of Medicine [1].
  • You can recover faster and build upper body strength more effectively.
  • Beyond physical benefits, stretching, including tricep stretches, has been linked to reduced stress and improved mental focus.

“You can also reduce your chances of suffering DOMS by warming up and stretching properly before your workout, and building up the intensity of your exercise over time rather than going hell for leather on your very first try.”

- Nick Harris-Fry, Writer at CoachMag.co.uk

When Should You Stretch Your Triceps?

Ideally, you will do the above stretches after a short warm-up routine that would include a brisk walk, some jumping jacks, and even a light jog.

In my practice, I've advised clients to incorporate these stretches at various times of the day. For instance, one of my clients found it beneficial to stretch during her midday break, which not only improved her tricep flexibility but also provided a much-needed mental refresh during her workday.

It’s always better to do some stretching after you’ve got some blood flowing and your muscles are warm.

You should also consider doing them after a workout routine that includes an elbow extension workout like triceps kickbacks.

Related: How to Get Bigger Triceps (30-Day Workout)

FAQs

How Do You Relieve Sore Triceps?

You relieve sore triceps by always including a triceps stretch in your workouts. Aim to do this before and after your arm workout routine to avoid injuries and speed up your recovery process.

How Do You Stretch Your Shoulders and Triceps?

You stretch your shoulders and triceps by doing horizontal arm stretches. These extend all the individual parts of the triceps as well as the tendons and ligaments.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21735398/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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