These Pictures Will Help You See Which Muscle You’re Stretching

Stretching is something not enough of us do, but its importance is critical. But it’s hard to see which muscle you’re stretching, because your skin is in the way of viewing your muscular structure underneath!

Stretching helps send blood flow to your muscles and helps your joints move through their full range of motion. It improves your posture, gets rid of tightness, and lowers your risk of pain and injury.

With these 36 pictures (created by Vicky Timon, a yoga expert and author of “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises”), you’ll be able to choose the best stretches for your goals. As you stretch, make sure you focus on your breath and move through these movements as naturally as possible.

It can take 5-30 seconds for your muscles to relax back into their natural positions, so take it slow, breathe through it, and help heal your body!


1. Camel Pose

Muscle Stretched: Rectus Abdominus and External Obliques.

Also known as the “heart opening” yoga pose, camel is great for helping clear the heart and throat centres. It should not be performed if you have a low back or neck injury. It is most appropriate for those who already have good flexibility. Come on your knees and place the knees hip-width apart, body upright. Place your hands on your lower back, pushing your hips forward. Slowly drop your head back and reach for your feet if your hips remain pushed forward, but don’t put your hands back on your feet if your hips fall back. Do not put too much pressure on your lumbar spine. Once in full position, keep pushing your chest up into the air.

2. Wide Forward Fold

Muscle Stretched: Adductors.

A great stretch for helping open the hips. Bend your knees and hold your spine straight. As your muscles begin to release, straighten your legs, round your back and reach for your feet. Pull on the bottom balls of your feet to release the calf muscles. If you are new to this pose, you likely will not be able to reach your feet. Simply keep your hands on your calves and stretch down.


3. Frog Pose

Muscle Stretched: Adductors.

One of the most deepest stretches for the groin, frog pose is one of my favourites. Perform it on a soft surface to avoid putting too much pressure on the knees. Rest your hands and knees, and then bring your knees wider until you can feel your groin muscles starting to stretch. Push your hips back and forward lightly to ease into the stretch.

4. Wide Side Lunge Pose

Muscle Stretched: Adductors.

Put both your feet forward in a wide stance and hold your legs as straight as possible. With your hands, walk to your right foot and bend your right knee and rotate your left toes up to the ceiling, sitting in your right hip. Make sure your right foot stays flat on the ground.

5. Butterfly Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Adductors

This one is great for stretching the inner thighs. Bring the soles of your feet together and sit tall through your sit bones. Put some pressure on your knees, using your hands, or if you are really advanced, get someone to stand on top of you with their feet on either leg. For a deeper groin stretch, hold your feet closer to your body. You can also bend your body forward over your feet for more effect.

6. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Forearm Extensor.

Begin with your arm in front of you with your wrist flexed toward the inner portion of your forearm. You should feel a stretch int he muscles that line your outer forearm. This stretch can be developed by touching the tips of your fingers together in the shape of a tea cup.


7. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck

Muscle Stretched: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”.

Look forward and don’t let the chin drop down for this stretch. Slowly move your ear towards the shoulder, without letting your shoulder lift up. A more advanced variation would be to sit on a chair and hold onto the bottom of the seat with both hands. This will make the tension down your arm and neck consistent, letting you target the upper traps.

8. Neck Rotation Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”.

Start rotating your neck slowly, while keeping your chin a bit elevated. For a deeper stretch, put pressure with the opposite hand from the direction that you are rotating.


9. Neck Extension Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”.

Put your hands on your hips, while keeping your spine long. Start to tilt your head back, ensuring that you are not collapsing your cervical spine.

10. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck with Hand Assistance

Muscle Stretched: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM” and Upper Trapezius.

Look forward and don’t let the chin drop down for this stretch. Slowly move your ear towards the shoulder, with gentle pressure from your hand (without letting your shoulder lift up).



11. Half Kneeling Quad / Hip Flexor Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Psoas and Quadriceps.

Start by half-kneeling. Then, bring forward the right hip. You should start feeling a stretch in the front of your hip while you do so. Take your back foot and squeeze your back flute in order to add to the stretch on your hip flexors.

12. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Forearm Extensor.

Rotate your should towards the outside to get into the optimal forearm-stretching position. When you have come into this position, put pressure on your opposing hand to start the stretch.


13. Lateral Shoulder Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Side Deltoid.

Stand up tall with your right (or left) arm extended and holding your right elbow with your left hand (or vice versa). Slowly pull it across your chest until you feel a gentle stretch in your shoulder.

14. Standing Assisted Neck Flexion Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Trapezius Muscle.

I really love this stretch, as it gets the muscles in the back of the neck and shoulders, where we hold a lot of tension. Stand on the ground with your feet together. Slowly sit your hips back, making sure the spine is prolonged. Round your upper back, pushing your chin into your chest at the same time.

15. Lat Stretch with Spinal Traction

Muscle Stretched: Latissimus Dorsi.

Take a firm grip of a bar and slowly lift your feet off the ground. You will feel the stretch in your chest and lats. If you have taken your feet totally off the ground, you will feel traction in your lumbar spine. Do not perform this stretch if you have undergone any type of shoulder injury or have impingement of the shoulder.

16. Lat Stretch at the Wall

Muscle Stretched: Latissimus Dorsi.

Put both of your hands on the corner of a wall or post. Maintaining a long spine, gently push your hips out to the side. People with lower back problems should not perform this stretch.

17. Child’s Pose

Muscle Stretched: Latissimus Dorsi.

A very relaxing stretch, this one starts with you on the ground with your hands and knees on the floor. Slowly bring your hips back until your forehead is on the floor. If you want a better hip stretch, bring your knees wider. Your upper back should be in arch shape, and then you should externally rotate your shoulder to stretch your chest and lat muscles.

18. Standing Calf Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Soleus and Gastrocnemius.

This can be performed on the edge of a stair step or wall. Rotate your ankles a bit towards inside and outside to actively stretch your calf muscles.

19. Front Split

Muscle Stretched: Psoas and Hamstring.

If you are new to stretching and yoga, do not perform the front split. Begin in a position of kneeling lunge, and slowly lower your hips to the ground, while keeping them square to the ground. Use your hands for support on either side of you. If you feel any pain, get out of the pose immediately. You can also use the support of a chair while your hip flexors and hamstrings release.

20. Seated Forward Fold / Seated Toe Touch

Muscle Stretched: Hamstrings and Calfs.

Sit into your seat bones and bend your knees if you have to. Make sure your spine is as straight as possible as you grab your feet and pull forward and down. If you can’t reach your feet, reach the next thing closest, like your calves (or bend your knees).


21. Single Leg Forward Bend

Muscle Stretched: Hamstrings.

Have your feet positioned one in front of the other. Keep your back straight, and bring your hands to your hips and start bending from the hips.

22. Deep Squat

Muscle Stretched: Glutes.

A deep squat is great for many body areas. If you have knee problems, or you can’t keep your heels on the ground, perform your squat before proceeding. Stand your feet shoulder-width apart and gradually lower into the deep squat. When you get into the position of a deep squat, bring your arms inside your legs and put some pressure to the inside of your knees, sitting into the hips and heels. This can also be performed lying on the back with the feet against a wall.


23. Seated Half King Pigeon Pose

Muscle Stretched: Glutes.

Start in a seated position and slowly pull your leg to your chest and rotate your hip towards the outside, while keeping your spine straight. The stretch should be felt in the glute.

24. Standing Calf Stretch at the Wall

Muscle Stretched: Soleus and Gastrocnemius.

Get in a lunge position and have the back of your foot turned out a little. Gradually bring the back of your heel to the floor to stretch your calf muscles.


25. Lateral Flexion at the Wall

Muscle Stretched: External Obliques.

Keep your spine long, and slowly push your hips to the outside. If you have issues with your lower back, do not perform this stretch!

26. Supine Twist

Muscle Stretched: Glutes and External Obliques.

This is a great stretch for the IT band in the leg, and is beneficial for those suffering from sciatica pain, who are trying to get rid of it. Start by lying flat on your back and then bring one leg across your body. Gradually rotate your gaze and upper body in the opposite direction. Breath into this one to help open up your rib cage and sacroiliac joint and hip area. If this is too hard for you, stack your knees on top of one another – doing this will make you feel the stretch more in the upper spine when the knees are higher, and more in the lumbar spine when the knees are lower.

27. Lateral Flexion with a Dowel

Muscle Stretched: External Obliques and Latissimus Dorsi.

Keep your spine long, and gradually push your hips out to the side while keeping your shoulders rotated outwardly while holding onto a dowel. If your lower back hurts, do not perform this stretch.

28. Triangle Pose

Muscle Stretched: External Obliques.

The master pose, triangle. Begin with a wide stand and your front foot straight ahead, and your back foot at a 90 degree angle. Put your hand on your front leg or on the floor, and sit back into your front hip, keeping your back straight. Rotate away from your front leg and maintain your gaze at the hand that is in the air. Eventually you can do this pose by bending your foot that is at the 90 degree angle so that you are in a lunge almost, with hips facing forward.


29. Chest Stretch at the Wall

Muscle Stretched: Pectorals.

Stand facing a wall. Place your right palm on the wall so that it is in line with your shoulder. Keep your right hand planted firmly and bend your left arm behind you to encourage opening of the left shoulder. Now, walk your feet to the left and stop when you feel a good stretch in your right shoulder and chest. Repeat on the other side.

30. Assisted Chest Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Chest and Latissimus Dorsi.

Lie down not he floor and hold your palms faced up. Your partner should be in a deep squat just a little behind where your head is rested, while holding your hands. This stretch will be felt in your chest and lats, and should also cause some traction in your spine. If your shoulder dislocates or has dislocated recently, do not perform this stretch.


31. Seated Half Pigeon Variation

Muscle Stretched: Anterior Tibialis.

Sit with your feet positioned in front of you, and put one hand behind you and rotate your hip outwardly and put one foot above your knee. If you want to add to the stretch on your hip, lean forward and start the movement by hinging at the hips.

32. Supine Shoulder External Rotation Stretch

Muscle Stretched: Subscapularis.

Lay flat on your back and place your arm straight out to the side with your elbow at a 90 degree angle. Gradually bring the back of your hand to the floor. If this is not possible, it means your rotator cuff and other muscles that control internal rotation are tight. Breathe into the stretch and press the back of your hand down as much as possible without pain.


33. Down Dog Variation at the Wall

Muscle Stretched: Pectorals and Latissimus Dorsi.

Stand in front of a wall of rack, enough so that when your body is in a parallel position, you will have enough room. Pivot at the hips, making sure your spine is straight at all times. Move your chest forward and make a slight arch in your upper back and stretch your lats and chest muscles. If your hamstrings are too tight, bend at the knees slightly.

34. Assisted Chest Stretch Variation

Muscle Stretched: Pectorals.

Lie down on the floor, with your face down and palms facing down. Your partner will stand on top of you, and pull your hands back. You should feel a deep stretch in your chest muscles. If your shoulder dislocates easily or if you have had any kind of shoulder injury recently, do not perform this stretch.

This article was originally posted at beyoungbegreen.


4 Simple Steps To Get Great Posture (Video)

Our posture both reflects and creates how we feel and how we live, so obviously good posture is so important! When it's not so good, we often feel more sluggish and weak, but when it's good, we feel great! We have lots of energy, and we're strong enough to do anything we want.

Since our posture is created by what we do all day, it might take more than a few shoulder-rolls to get everything perfect. But there are some things you can actually do for just a few minutes each day that will help your body learn (and remember!) the optimal ways of moving and holding still. From here, great posture becomes an all-day, every-day good habit!

It's helpful to remember that posture isn't just about your shoulders and back. How you hold yourself builds on a chain of interconnected parts —  beginning at your ankles and then knees, up through your hips, belly, and lower back. From there it runs up the full length of your spine, into your neck and shoulders.

You want this chain to be not too taut, not too loose, but just right in the middle. Think of your body like water in a glass —  easily and fluidly movable, encompassed by a nice big container that keeps us from spilling all over the place!

Here are four key areas of movement that I cover in-depth for you in the video below. Try getting into each of these areas every single day, and your body will start to align perfectly and your back will thank you!

1. Get on your hands and knees (or feet!) and move everything you've got, in every direction you can move it.

This gives you a great way to move and explore the full length of your spine easily, in every possible direction. This kind of movement is critical for development of all the small supporting muscles along your spine, which in turn helps your ligaments restore and maintain proper position for healthy alignment.

2. Get up on your feet and challenge your balance.

By playing with balance, you further develop and fine-tune all the small supporting muscles in your body. These muscles are the key to how you hold yourself. When they're engaged and evenly-developed, you will naturally hold yourself up just right (without even tiring!) and be ready for anything.

3. Get all-around STRONG in your core!

We all know a strong core is necessary for a healthy back and good posture. Here, we'll get into your core as we did before, by moving evenly in every possible direction. By starting this multi-directional movement right from your center, we'll check off a key element in healing and strengthening your body's natural alignment systems.

4. Release and relax the hips and hamstrings.

Finally, we wind it down with some easygoing releases for your hips and thighs, by exploring all around these areas again, in every possible direction. Your legs and hips are a key part of the chain that sets up how you stand, sit, and move, so keeping them stress-free and easily movable is important.

When you awaken every inch of your body and move happily, your body becomes a wonderful orchestra —  all the pieces in tune, playing the best music there is.

Want perfect posture? Tune your orchestra! Move happily, everything you've got, in every direction you can. Do it every day, and you're going to like what happens to your body, I assure you.

Here's the video to get you started. Enjoy!

Article originally appeared on and was written by Michael Taylor

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What To Do For Muscle and Joint Stiffness

Q: I went to see a chiropractor today to get orthopaedic lifts for my shoes, and he gave me a bit of an examination at the same time.

He told me that I was very stiff and I was likely feeling a lot of back pain. Actually I have no back pain but I am very stiff. I have always struggled with flexibility.

These days my upper shoulders and back of my neck are often sore and tight. I have been slowly working on some of the stretches on your website, but this guy wanted me to go see him and he would help me with adjustments, etc., etc.

I'm wondering if I can just rely on stretching (seriously 30 minutes a day) to regain flexibility and deal with these problems instead of actually seeing this guy.

A: Generally, my feeling is that it's best to see what you can accomplish with a regular stretching routine.

In the absence of chronic inflammation or pain from an acute injury, stiffness in the back, shoulder, and neck regions is typically caused by one or both of the following:

  • Stiffness within the joints in the area

  • Tight muscles

Joint stiffness can cause surrounding muscles to become tight from lack of use, and tight muscles can cause underlying joints to become stiff, also from lack of use. So for practical purposes, in addressing stiffness, it doesn't really matter which one is causing the other; the vast majority of stretches promote joint flexibility and healthy muscle length.

Chiropractic adjustments aim to prevent joint stiffness, typically by delivering a "short amplitude, high velocity" thrust through one of the planes through which the involved joints are designed to move.

Though chiropractic adjustments can be immensely helpful in promoting optimal joint motion, my experience has been that without regular stretching and awareness of daily activities and postures that are at the root of chronic stiffness, adjustments can become a short term fix.

In my opinion, it's better to adopt a lifelong program of stretching to establish and maintain healthy length and blood flow in all major muscle groups, which should help your joints and surrounding ligaments to stay healthy as well.

I would add foam rolling to your stretching routine, as I find it to be an invaluable tool for keeping muscles, ligaments, and the joints they service healthy.

Also keep in mind that beyond stretching and foam rolling, you can likely benefit from some resistance training that promotes a strong core and good body balance. For example, instead of doing conventional push-ups, by doing push-ups with one hand on the ground and one on a medicine ball, you force muscles, ligaments, and proprioceptors (joint receptors that register joint position sense) throughout your body to develop a high level of functional strength. By functional strength, I mean strength that your body can consciously and subconsciously use to stay balanced and be less prone to injury as you go about your daily activities.

Another example of an exercise that promotes good body balance is one-leg squats, where you keep your core strong, balance your weight on one leg, and do slow, controlled squats - even just a few degrees will yield big dividends to your functional core strength and balance.

But not to move too far away from your question, a regular program of stretching and foam rolling is where I would begin - this really needs to be the foundation of your self care program. If you try to do too much with strength and balance-related exercises without ensuring that your muscles are healthy and your joints are moving properly, you might just reinforce faulty patterns of being and moving.

Archive of Stretching and Foam Rolling Posts

After spending a few months taking care of your body, if you feel that you haven't experienced significant improvement and can use some help, that's when I might visit a chiropractor, physiotherapist, kinesiologist, or any other practitioner that specializes in functional movement work. If your stiffness is severe enough that you can't stretch and exercise effectively, then it makes sense to seek treatment from day one.

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Powerful Diet and Lifestyle Tips to Prevent and Manage Depression

As depression affects millions worldwide, countries across the globe now have special days to foster more awareness about mental health issues. While Mental Health Days are a good place to start, is anyone raising awareness of the concrete strategies that anyone can do to prevent, manage and overcome this condition?  While some individuals may require stronger treatment methods (such as medications and psychotherapy) most should begin by addressing the many simple, yet powerful changes they can make in their diets and lifestyle.

Stats Canada and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) report that about 9% of adults 18 and older reported symptoms consistent with at least one of the following disorders: major depressive episode, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and abuse of or dependence on alcohol, cannabis or other drugs.

Depression can be described as a state of being that includes a lack of motivation, a sense of hopelessness and a lack of energy. It can include chronic fatigue, sleep problems, alterations is appetite and loss of interest in life in general.

In mainstream medicine, most doctors only address and treat the symptoms of depression by prescribing antidepressants.  These types of medications all come with varying degrees of side effects which can be even more detrimental to the individual.

An integrated approach looks at all the contributing factors then works to correct and resolve areas that may be creating difficulty.

How You Think and Feel is Directly Affected by What You Eat

There is much evidence that the foods we eat directly influence the brains behavior.  Here’s some Food for Thought: How you think and feel is directly affected by what you eat.  This idea may seem strange but a poor diet, especially one with a lot of junk foods, is a common cause of depression.  That’s because neurotransmitters in our brain, which regulate how we behave, are controlled by what we eat and closely linked to mood.  The fact is that eating the right foods has been proven to boost IQ, improve mood and emotional stability, sharpen memory and keep your mind young.

Two of the most important aspects an individual should address if they’re suffering from depression are their diet and lifestyle.  Everything from blood sugar imbalances to food allergies and deficiencies in much needed vitamins and minerals should be considered and corrected as well as ensuring your diet is rich in fatty and amino acids as these have all been linked to low mood.

What is a Balanced Diet?

A good nutritional program consists of three parts:

  1. A good diet, without chemicals, sugars and junk food. Eating a whole food diet ensures you receive all the right nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and EFA’s. These all support you mental, physical and emotional health.
  2.  Micronutrient support, especially the B vitamins niacin, pyridoxine (B6), B12, folic acid, vitamin C, zinc & essential fatty acids.
  3.  Other nutrients that support the production of neurotransmitter substances such as choline, and L-tyrosine which improves dopamine synthesis and 5-HTP to stimulate serotonin production.

Getting enough Vitamin D through appropriate sun exposure or in supplement form is also essential in fighting depression.  Vitamin D is actually a neuroregulatory steroidal hormone that has been found to significantly lower the presence of depressive symptoms. There is growing evidence showing that if you’re suffering from depression one of the best choices you can make is to spend as much time outdoors in the sun as possible.


Exercise is a great way to prevent and treat depression. Studies show that regular exercise helps you feel better and improves mood and attitude towards life. Exercise can help cleanse toxins out of the body and could moderate depression. Also, exercise helps increase feel good endorphins in your brain.

Exercising 3-5 times a week for at least 45 minutes and including some form of aerobic exercise, weight training to improve strength and tone and stretching to ensure flexibility are all essential components to a balanced program.

Although this may be difficult to even consider when you’re feeling depressed, once you establish a routine it will build and help moderate your symptoms.


How you live your life, interact with others, the work you do and the stresses in your life all have an impact on you mental health and need to be addressed and modified. Keep a positive attitude towards life. Look at challenges as opportunities to improve your well being. Create a regular exercise program and learn ways to talk about your feelings and frustrations with friends or loved ones.

Other possible causes of Depression

Many drugs can cause mild to moderate levels of depression; these include blood pressure medications, estrogens in birth control pills, steroids and antianxiety drugs. Although alcohol can make you feel good initially it is actually a depressant and if you suffer with depression you should absolutely minimize or avoid consumption.

Hormonal imbalances such as low testosterone or menopausal imbalances are also factors in causing depression.

A hidden problem that many individuals suffer from is unbalanced thyroid, in particular hypothyroidism which, often goes undiagnosed and untreated.  Thyroid problems can have a definite impact on your mood.

As mentioned above food allergies can produce and aggravate depression. For this reason it’s critical to isolate and eliminate food allergies. Avoiding or better yet, eliminating all sugars, refined foods and chemicals found in those foods helps many people with poor moods and depression.

Empower Yourself with an Integrated Approach to Mental Health

If you or someone you know is plagued with depression there are many ways to help prevent and control this condition using natural alternatives or in conjunction with medical therapy.

Keep a positive attitude, exercise, address your diet and nutritional intake, supplement with a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral formula, avoid foods that are toxic to your body and don’t forget to exercise regularly.