Fitness

How to Stretch your Upper Body after Working Out

When we workout, our muscle and tendons get tight, After working out, we should do some static stretching to help recover the elasticity of the muscles and reduce the soreness.  This video will demonstrate some common stretching exercises including Chest, Back, Shoulder, Arm.  Before that, we should learn some basic concept.

 

Muscle can contract and extend/relax.  The muscle length will be shorten when contracting (Concentric Contraction).  It will be lengthen when extending/relaxing.  Stretching is the form of lengthening the muscle.  For you to easy memorise and understand:

Stretching is the opposite direction of the training exercise.

 

For instance,

  • Chest.  Chest is basically doing a shoulder horizontal adduction, Aka shorten the angle between your Chest & Your Biceps/arm.  Also known as Chest Fly.  In order to stretch this muscle, reverse the move by extending your to behind your body.
  • The back is basically pulling down and back.  The opposite will be up and forward.
  • Biceps will bend the arm (Elbow Flexion), Rotate the forearm (supination) and raise the arm (Shoulder Flexion).  To reverse,  Reverse the forearm to pronation,  extend your arm (Elbow Extension) and put your arm behind your body (Shoulder Extension).  You may realise that this move is quite similar to the Front Deltoid/Chest one.  Yes, indeed, it is.

 

From the above examples, if you knew how the muscles work, you will know how to stretch them as well.

The Cool Down Stretching routine is basically targeting the muscles just used.  Typically 2-3 sets with 15-30s per muscle group.

Let’s take a look now.

 

#1 Chest

We have just discussed it already.  Chest can be known as Upper/Middle/Lower Chest.  You may targeting different region by varying the angle of stretching (hand position).  But I think middle chest stretching is good enough.

 

Apart from that, we have Pec Minor Muscle located beneath the Pec Major.  If this muscle is tight, rounded back symbol would be accelerated.   Pec Major and Minor carry the same consequence.  So stretch two positions for the Chest:

  • First is Flat Chest Stretching for Pec Major.
  • The second will be targeting Pec Minor where your hand placed higher, look like you are stretching your lower Pec.

 

Since the chest is basically Pushing and Fly.  Triceps and Front Deltoid will be highly engaged during the process.  So you should stretch your Triceps and Front Deltoid as well.  Front Deltoid stretching is quite like stretching upper chest.  Remember to Chest Up in the whole process.

 

Triceps stretching is demonstrating right now.  Lift one hand, while the hand one just pulling it.  If you want to intensify the move.  Lean on a wall or a ball with one lifted up hand.  The other hand is pressing it down.  Contract the biceps as well.  Now your triceps are fully extended.

 

#2 Back

Back is mainly pulling exercises where Back and Biceps are used together.  To stretch your back, lean forward and hold a bar.

 

If you want to intensify the move,  You can lean towards one side  Which can greatly increase the stretching.  Another version will be using both of your elbows to support and try to pushing down your body.

 

 

Biceps stretching is basically told before.  Note the difference between it and Front Deltoid/Chest is that the forearm is pronated.

 

#3 Shoulder

When you train your back, Rear Deltoid should be involved.  Rear Deltoid Stretching is best known to public just like the one I am demonstrating.  Rear Deltoid & Side Deltoid Stretching are quite similar,  Just the Side Deltoid one is arm placing a bit lower.  Using another hand to hold it.

 

Front Deltoid stretching can be performed by pulling a horizontal bar with lunge position.  Slowly lower your body to intensify the stretching.

 

#4 Arm

We have discussed it already, Let’s review for a moment.

 

Stretching is targeting the just-used muscles.  If you just train your Chest, stretch it.  Plus some front deltoid and triceps.  If you just train your Back, stretch it, plus some Biceps and rear deltoid.  If you just train your Arm, stretch Biceps and Triceps (& forearm).  If you just train your Shoulder, stretch front/side/rear Deltoid.  Plus some arm because some pulling exercises (Biceps) & some pressing exercises (Triceps) will be involved.

 

When you train your Shoulder, upper Traps will be involved as well.  It may happens to Chest/Back Day as well.  So, we should often stretch our upper Traps.  Regarding the issue caused by tight upper Traps,  I have a video dedicated to it already.  If you are interested, please watch it.

 

BTW, the stretching before working out is not static, but dynamic. This is mentioned in another video already.  We avoid static stretching before working out for the reason that  As it will loosen your muscle/tendon and temporarily affect your performance.  So, just to remember:

  • Pre-workout:  Dynamic Stretching.  The one you need to keep moving.
  • Post-workout: Static Stretching.  The one you need to hold a static position for 10+s.

Both are important.  So you should spend some time on them.

 

To clarify one thing:  This kind of short Cool Down type Stretching  Will not improve your flexibility significantly.  If you want your flexibility improved, more time & effort will be needed.  That topic will be discussed in the future.

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