Stretching brings with it some serious health benefits, well beyond just increased flexibility.
And we’d guess you probably know you should be doing more stretching in your fitness routine… but either forget to do it or simply don’t know where to start.
But fear not, we’ve created this simple full body stretch routine to highlight how you can loosen up tight muscles in just 10 minutes.
You could either do this before a workout, as part of your evening/morning ritual, or use it to break up long periods of being sedentary during the day.
This full body stretch routine only takes 10 minutes to do and by following this for just a few weeks, you may already start to see positive changes to your movement.
It includes one stretch per major muscle group, so you may want to include additional stretches for any muscles or joints that need attention based on your own requirements. You can also choose to hold each stretch for as long as you feel necessary (somewhere between 10-30 seconds would be a good starting point).
At a Glance – Full Body Stretch Routine
- Neck – Cervical Circles
- Shoulders – Box Shoulder Stretch
- Chest – Standing Pec Stretch
- Back – Cobra Pose
- Hip Flexors – Samson Stretch
- Glutes – Pigeon Pose
- Hamstrings – Dynamic Hamstring Stretch
- Quads – Kneeling Quad Stretch
- Calves – Standing Calf Stretch
Best Stretching Apps
You may want to consider using a stretching app to help you track your progress, follow new stretching routines and even message coaches for support. Our guide on the best stretching apps and programs highlights our top picks for this year, as well as free trials and discount codes to help you get started.
Daily Stretch Routine that Targets the Whole Body
Neck – Cervical Circles
Cervical circles, or neck circles, are a great place to start when it comes to a full body stretch routine.
This will help loosen up the neck and is a great way to combat “tech neck” and sitting at a desk all day.
To do cervical circles, slowly move your head in a circle. Don’t rush things and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.
You may want to repeat the cervical circle a few times, and do it in both directions.
You could also just look to the right, left, up and down, and hold those positions for a few moments as an alternative. You may find this is better suited if you do have a stiff neck.
Shoulders – Box Shoulder Stretch
Stiff shoulders can reduce the functional movement of the upper body so it’s worth stretching them out frequently.
The Box Shoulder Stretch is a great, and underrated way, to instantly release tight shoulders as well as your upper back in general.
To do this shoulder stretch, kneel next to a bench or raised surface (e.g. your sofa) and place your elbow on it. Touch the base on your neck with your hands and gently push down on your elbows. You should feel your shoulders being stretched.
Chest – Standing Pec Stretch
The standing pec stretch is a popular way to stretch out your chest.
Chests are particularly susceptible to becoming tight when you’re sat at a desk or driving, so this stretch is a great one to do daily, as part of a stretching routine.
To do the standing pec stretch, grab a stable object, or place your hand around a doorframe and rotate at the shoulder to open up your chest.
Try to keep your core engaged to allow you to focus the stretch on your chest as you hold the position.
Back – Cobra Pose
It’s difficult to pick only one stretch for the back, as there are so many really effective stretches that can help instantly relieve tightness in this region.
We picked the cobra pose because it’s beginner friendly and focuses on the lower back, which is the area that most people find they benefit from stretching out. It also helps to open up the chest and shoulders too, as well as stretching the abs too.
By doing the cobra pose as shown in the video demonstration above (i.e. starting in downward facing dog), you can also help stretch out your back and legs as you move into the stretch.
Once you are lying face down, to do the cobra pose, you need to push through your arms to extend at the elbow to lift your chest off the floor, while keeping your hips and legs down.
Our guide on the prone cobra push up shows how you can integrate repetitions into this movement and make it a dynamic stretch instead of a static hold.
Hip Flexors – Samson Stretch
The samson stretch is effective at stretching out the often-ignored psoas and hip flexors. These can become weak and tight from being sedentary.
To do the samson stretch, lunge forward with your back knee on the floor. With your arms extended up, drive your hips forward to stretch the front of your hips.
You can also control how much you want to stretch your hip flexors, by placing the foot of your forward leg further away (bigger stretch) or closer (small stretch) to your body.
Hip Mobility Exercises
If you want to focus on improving your hip movement, our guide on hip mobility exercises includes a list of 10 stretches you can try.
Glutes – Pigeon Pose
The pigeon pose stretches out the glutes as well as opening up the hips.
One of the reasons we really like the pigeon pose is the ability to adapt the stretch to target different parts of the glutes and manage how hard you want to push things.
To do pigeon pose, bend one knee so the shin/calf of that leg extends across your body as you lean forward. Keep your chest up and push your hips forward.
One of the drawbacks, however, with pigeon pose is that it requires good mobility at the knee. If you are struggling with bending your knee adequately to get into the stretch, you may want to try reclining pigeon pose as a knee-friendly alternative.
Hamstrings – Dynamic Hamstring Stretch
This dynamic hamstring stretch is a modification of the more traditional lying hamstring stretch, and includes a flex of the knee to bend and straighten the leg that is extended upwards.
This will help stretch the calves too.
To do this dynamic hamstring stretch, lie on your back and lift one leg upwards, as far as feels comfortable. Hold this leg for support, gently pulling it towards your chest. Flex your knee to straighten and bend your leg. Repeat with the other leg.
Quads – Kneeling Quad Stretch
This kneeling variation of the quad stretch helps to further stretch out the ankles, as well as allowing you to gently push forward to stretch the hip flexors as well.
To do this kneeling quad stretch, you’ll want to place a cushion of some kind under your back knee for comfort (or use a yoga mat). Get down on one knee and lift the foot of the back leg up towards your glutes.
Hold this for the duration required and repeat on the other leg.
Calves – Standing Calf Stretch
The standing calf stretch is a simple but effective way to stretch out the calf muscles.
To do this stretch, place your hands on a wall in front of you, with a staggered stance. Bend your front leg and straighten your back leg and lean forward. Keep your heels on the floor.
The further the distance between your feet, the deeper the stretch will feel.
Full Body Stretch Routine PDF
If you’d like to save this stretching routine to use later, simply click below to download the PDF version. This includes links to the exercise demonstrations so you can still watch the videos too.
Benefits of Daily Stretching
Stretching is a fundamental pillar of healthy movement and something you shouldn’t skip or overlook, whatever your gender, fitness goals or experience.
- Increased flexibility – Ultimately, one of the most visible benefits of stretching is the increased flexibility. Whether you want to touch your toes, or simply make everyday activities easier, better flexibility will help.
- Increased mobility – Mobility refers to the ability for joints to move through their full range of motion. Coupled with better flexibility, this can have a dramatic impact on your overall movement. Improving mobility in the hips, for example, can help with all sorts of activities that require hip flexion, such as running, walking or jumping.
- Reduced risk of injuries – Due to improved mobility and flexibility, the joints and muscles are less susceptible to injuries.
- Aids muscle recovery – Stretching can help combat DOMS and post-workout stiffness. This is why stretching after a workout is worthwhile if you want to help reduce the feeling of stiffness the next day.
- Improved circulation – Stretching helps to pump blood around the body and muscles, improving circulation.
- Relaxation – Some stretching can be relaxing, especially when done as part of yoga or meditation routine. Using long, slow breathing with your stretching may help you become more relaxed.
- Improved athletic performance – Due to all the benefits mentioned above, stretching can also help to improve athletic performance. Our Pliability app review highlights how elite athletes use stretching and mobility sessions to their advantage.
Is there any Equipment that Helps with Stretching?
We have a guide on stretching straps which you might find useful during stretching routines. These aren’t crucial, but they can make stretching your hamstrings, for example, easier. They also don’t cost much money.
We’ve also found some come with PDFs or booklets that include lots of stretches to follow along to as well, which can be useful.
Should I Use a Stretching App?
Stretching apps help provide structure and guidance when it comes to following a stretching routine. They can provide the accountability you need to stick with it and can even allow you to message coaches or fellow community members.
The effectiveness of stretching apps will vary from app to app, but as a starting point, you may want to check out StretchIt, as this includes a lot of useful features and offers a free trial too.
What are the Best Types of Stretches?
A good stretching routine should include both dynamic and static stretches. Similarly, it should include stretches that work on improving flexibility as well as mobility.
Daily stretching can be a great way to not only loosen up tight muscles and joints, but also break up periods of being sedentary or even help you relax on an evening.
The stretches outlined in this full body stretch routine are a great place to start for anyone wanting to get started with stretching.
Follow this everyday for a month and see how you feel.
For more personalized recommendations, consult a Physical Therapist to discuss how you can reach your goals based on your individual circumstances.