8 Relaxing Total Body Stretches

Cardio and strength training, or some combination of the two, are the cornerstones of any solid workout program. But one of the most overlooked elements of a comprehensive program comes at the end of the workout—stretching.

Stretching is something you probably know you should be doing. It's also the part of the workout that's very easy to skip. You may think you don't have time for it or don't need it. But a stretch session is one of the best ways to end any workout.

Stretching when your muscles are warm has a number of benefits:

  • Builds greater overall flexibility
  • Relieves stress
  • Helps your body get back to its pre-exercise state
  • Gives your mind and body a chance to reflect on the workout you just did and feel its impact
  • May reduce post-exercise muscle soreness and stiffness
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Watch Now: 8 Total Body Stretches to Help You Relax

You don't have to spend a lot of time on stretching exercises to get the benefits. This total body flexibility workout proves it with stretches so simple, you can do them anytime or anywhere—after a workout, at work, or when you're at home watching TV.

These exercises promote flexibility and relaxation. They target all the major muscles of the body, including those that are chronically tight like the chest, shoulders, back, arms, hips, and legs. Try to stretch every day, if you can, for better results.

Try these stretching exercises to get rid of any extra tension you may be carrying around. See your doctor if you have any medical conditions, illnesses, or injuries that may affect your ability to stretch.

You will need a chair, exercise ball, or bench to sit on. Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio first, or do this after a workout or a bath when your muscles are warm.

Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat one to three times. Avoid any exercises that cause pain or discomfort and only stretch as deep as you can. The stretch should feel good and shouldn't hurt. If your muscles are shaking, you need to back off a bit and let your muscles relax more.

1

Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Stand and hold onto a wall or the back of a chair for balance if needed.
  2. Grab the top of the left foot and bend your knee, bringing the foot towards the glutes, knee pointing straight at the floor. You should feel a stretch down the front of your leg.
  3. Squeeze your hips forward for a deeper stretch.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times per leg.
2

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Take your left foot forward and tip from the hips, keeping the back flat.
  2. Lower down until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg.
  3. Rest the hands on the upper thighs to give your back some support. 
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times.

If you feel shaky or your hamstrings are tight, try using a resistance band to give you more leverage.

3

Chest and Shoulder Stretch

Chest and Shoulder Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Sit or stand and clasp your hands together behind your back, arms straight.
  2. Lift your hands towards the ceiling, going only as high as is comfortable. You should feel a stretch in your shoulders and chest.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, repeating one to three times.

If your shoulders are a little tight, try just taking your arms behind you and out to the sides like an airplane.

4

Upper Back Stretch

Upper Back Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Clasp your hands together in front of you and round your back, pressing your arms away from your body to feel a stretch in your upper back.
  2. Contract the abs to get the most out of this stretch.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, repeating one to three times.
5

Biceps Stretch

Biceps Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Take your arms out to the sides, slightly behind you, with your thumbs up, like a hitchhiker.
  2. Rotate your thumbs down and back until they are pointing to the back wall to stretch the biceps.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, repeating one to three times.
6

Shoulder Stretch

Shoulder Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Take your right arm straight across your chest and curl the left hand around your elbow, gently pulling on the right arm to deepen the stretch in the shoulders.
  2. Try dropping the shoulder down if you're not feeling a stretch.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times on each side.
7

Seated Side Stretch

Seated Side Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Sitting or standing, clasp your hands straight up overhead, palms facing the ceiling.
  2. Stretch up and then over to the right, feeling a stretch down your left side.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times.
8

Triceps Stretch

Triceps Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Bend your right elbow behind your head and use the right hand to gently pull the left elbow in further until you feel a stretch in your triceps.
  2. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times.
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Article Sources
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  1. Page P. Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012;7(1):109-119.

  2. Apostolopoulos N, Metsios GS, Flouris AD, Koutedaki Y, Wyon MA. The relevance of stretch intensity and position-a systematic review. Front Psychol. 2015;6:1128. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01128