Although the effect and application of stretching exercises have been questioned more and more frequently in recent years, stretching exercises are and will remain an elementary part of sport. Only the question of when and how to stretch is controversial. Maintaining and promoting mobility is an indispensable element in many sports activities. In addition to endurance, strength and speed, mobility is a conditional ability for a reason.

Benefits of stretching

Stretching exercises help against tension and shortened muscles, as well as with muscle regeneration after exertion.

Can stretch Release tension and thus relaxing and reassuring Act. Tension often occurs, especially after long work in a certain posture and / or position. Also with shortened muscles stretching exercises can help and existing Resolve imbalances. Bad posture can thus be avoided and the entire musculoskeletal system benefits from it.

Stretching optimizes muscle tone and leads to a increased blood flow. As a result, the muscle can be better supplied with nutrients and the necessary minerals and itself after a stress recover well. The metabolism-activating effect helps the muscles to regenerate completely and all nutrient stores are replenished.

Another benefit of stretching exercises is one comprehensive injury prevention of muscles, ligaments and Tendons. Stretching reduces the risk of muscle fibers, muscle bundles, or muscle tears. Tendon and ligament injuries also occur significantly less with a regular stretching program. The Joint mobility is also increased and improved thus not only that Total mobility of the bodybut also the coordinative performance of a human. So stretching exercises have many benefits and are an important part of our body's health.

Cons of stretching

Cons of stretching exercises are actually not recognizable at first glance. However, the effects of stretching aren't always positive. Stretching exercises before and after a workout are time-consuming and rather boring exercises with not much to do. A disadvantage can be mentioned that stretching exercises the Lower muscle tone and reassuring Act. Therefore, you should really only do stretching exercises if you want to relax and calm down. Especially Stretching exercises are counterproductive before sports with a high level of speed and / or maximum strength and can Efficiency sometimes enormous reduce.

Studies have found that passive-static stretching the Maximum strength between 4 and 20 percent to reduce can. In terms of speed, a loss of between 3 and 10 percent can be expected. So if you do stretching exercises before sprints or weightlifting, you are correspondingly slow, or you may not be able to lift the usual weight as often as usual. A negative influence of stretching could also be on that Strength endurance be detected.

When are stretching exercises useful?

Stretching exercises are useful to increase flexibility, relieve tension and cramps.

The question of when stretch makes sense and when not, everyone has probably already asked. One should keep in mind that stretching not all positive effects evokes. It is depends on the desired sportwhether or not stretching exercises should be performed. Also personal goals play a role in the use of stretching exercises. For example, if you have the goal To improve agility, stretching exercises are definitely recommended, as they increase the mobility in the stretched body parts, Muscles and ligaments increase.

stretching can also help with tension and cramps. Especially through monotonous activities, tension often occurs, which can become very uncomfortable. Stretching exercises can help here Relieve tension and relieve pain. A doctor should be consulted if the pain persists for a long time. Cramps often occur in the middle of an exercise, for example in a competition. By stretching the cramping muscle, it can be released and you can do the Continue activity. The resolution of the spasm only lasts for a short time and the spasm will return sooner or later.

The stretching exercises should be isolated and as a sport sole training session to be viewed as. A training plan can be designed as follows:

  • On Monday: Strength training
  • Tuesday: Stretching
  • Wednesday: endurance

A certain mobility of the muscles is recommended for all sports. In sports where flexibility is a determining factor, stretching exercises are an integral part of the training plan. This sports are among others do gymnastics, To dance, Gymnastics and figure skating.

When should you give up stretching?

You definitely should do not stretchif you are currently one Muscle injury has overcome. In such a case, you should always seek help from a doctor or physiotherapist beforehand. You should also keep your Musculature don't stretch if you look beforehand not sufficiently warmed up Has. One climbs without a warm-up program directly into various stretching exercises, muscle and ligament injuries can occur.

Basically applies to everyone Sports that involve rapid, vigorous movements the existence Stretching is inexpedient immediately before the load and even reduces performance in the high-performance area. Right away before and after strength training stretching is also not recommended. However, this only applies in advanced stages Fitness sport and at Bodybuildingbecause that stretch additionally a stimulus to the Muscle building puts. If you do not want to do without the stretching exercises during your strength training, you should make sure that the stretching stimulus of the muscles during Muscle building is not too strong.

Anyone who wants to increase their performance through stretching exercises is also on the wrong path. Stretching exercises tend to reduce the performance of the muscles than to produce a positive effect. Especially with sports With maximum strength development, stretching is by no means recommended, especially during breaks in exercise. Because in maximum strength sports the muscle first maximally contracted and then maximally pulled apart during a stretching exercise. Serious injuries can result.

Stretching exercises before exercise

If you do stretching exercises before sport, you should warm up beforehand.

Regardless of the type of sport, you should do a warm-up program before you start stretching. For example, before an endurance run, you should run for a few minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for the strain. The warm-up phase can then be extended with some stretching exercises for the legs. Stretching exercises before exercise should not last longer than ten minutes, otherwise the warming effect will be lost. With the different stretching exercises, you should only make sure that the static exercises do not last longer than eight seconds, otherwise the muscles will tire and rapid contractions will be prevented.
There are no specific guidelines for stretching exercises for speed training. Similar to strength training, care is taken that static exercises are not carried out for too long. In general, strength and speed training do not necessarily require a warm-up program in order to achieve the desired performance. A health disadvantage will not arise from stretching exercises and the risk of injury can easily be reduced. Stretching exercises before the sport are therefore not absolutely necessary, or they depend on the sport. However, there is no health risk when doing stretching exercises. Before exerting force or speed, stretching leads to a loss of performance, as the desired tension in the muscles is missing. Static stretching does not make sense before a soccer training session. Only the leg muscles should be stretched with dynamic exercises.

Stretching exercises after exercise

As already described, stretching exercises don't help against you aching. Nevertheless, stretching exercises can be done after training or competitions. With very intensive loads should between the end of the load and the start of the stretching exercises at least one three quarters of an hour elapse, as only certain degradation products from the muscle must be removed. An earlier start can lengthen rather than shorten the recovery time of the muscle. After moderate exertion and after a certain period of time, stretching exercises can be carried out after a workout Musculature to relax, Cramping to to solve and muscular imbalances to remedy. Also for them physical relaxation stretching exercises are excellent. There is a reason why sports are like yoga, Feldenkrais and progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobsen largely composed of stretching exercises. By stretching you can focus very well on yourself and thus in one relaxed state come who is also good for the soul. Even with stretching exercises after sport, the sport and the goals you pursue with the stretching exercises are important.

Please also read: Stretching for sore muscles


Neck muscles

Stretched muscle: descending part of the Trapezius (Trapezius muscle)

To provide a stretch stimulus for the Neck muscles To sit down, the athlete sits or stands upright, facing forward. The head is an extension of the spine. The head is slowly tilted to one side until a stretch in the neck muscles can be felt. The hand on the opposite side takes on a supporting role. To further increase the stretching stimulus, the arm on the stretched side can be stretched towards the floor.

Further information:

  • Neck training

Shoulder muscles

Stretched muscle

anterior deltoid (M. deltoideus)

In order to stretch the front part of the deltoid muscle, the arm is held against a wall in a similar way to stretching the chest muscle. Here, however, the arm is straight and parallel to the ground. The upper body is tried to be pushed away from the wall.

Further information

  • Shoulder muscle training

Stretched muscle:

posterior deltoid (M. deltoideus)

Rhomboid muscle (M. rhomboideus minor et major)

This stretching exercise for the shoulder muscles tries to push the extended arm towards the middle of the body.

Further information:

  • Shoulder muscles

Arm muscles

Stretched muscle:

Triceps (M. triceps brachii)

The back of the upper arm is stretched above the head. The athlete bends his elbow above his head. (As if trying to scratch the upper part of the back). The free hand grasps the elbow and pulls it towards the head.

more information is available at Arm muscles

Stretched muscle:

biceps (M. biceps brachii)

Arm flexors (M. brachialis)

Effective stretching of the entire upper arm flexor muscles is almost impossible because the elbow joint prevents this. In order to achieve a stretch of the biceps, the athlete has to extend his arm parallel to the floor. The fingertips point upwards. The free hand grips the fingertips of the side to be stretched and gently pulls them towards the body until a stretch is felt.

Note: biceps and Triceps are antagonists and cause stretching and contraction reciprocally. When the biceps are contracted, the triceps will stretch and vice versa.

Stretching exercises for a tennis elbow

Stretching exercises can also be performed as part of the healing process.
By stretching the muscle belly, relaxation occurs so that an inflamed tendon can heal better.
With tennis elbow, the tendons on the outer elbow become inflamed.
Targeted stretching exercises can have a beneficial effect on healing or prevent recurrence (prevention).
It is important, however, that no stretching exercises should be performed in the acute phase of healing.

You can find a lot of extensive information under our topic: Stretching exercises for a tennis elbow

Abdominal muscles

Stretched muscle:

straight abdominal muscle (Rectus abdominis muscle)

The best way to stretch the abdominal straight muscle is with the help of a pezzi ball. The athlete lies on his back on the ball and tries to adjust his spine to the ball.

Without a ball: The athlete kneels, his thighs lie on his lower legs and an attempt is made to place his hands on the floor as far in front of his body as possible.

Stretched muscle:

external oblique muscle (M. obliquus externus abdominis)

internal oblique muscle (M. obliquus internus abdominis)

The athlete stands in the starting position with an upright upper body. In the stretching phase, the upper body is tilted to one side. The upper body and legs, however, remain in one plane.

Marker: The inner and outer abdominal muscles are almost at right angles in their course. When one muscle is stretched, the other is contracted.

Back muscles

Stretched muscle:

broad back muscle (M. latissimus dorsi)

Large round muscle (M. teres major)

Small round muscle (M. teres minor)

The back muscles will also be like that Abdominal muscles rarely stretched in sports practice.

There is an opposite movement of the abdominal muscle stretch.

The athlete kneels and supports himself with one arm on the floor. As with the stretching of the oblique abdominal muscles, the upper body is inclined to the side and the upper body is also turned slightly to the side of the propped arm.

For more information, see Back muscles

Thigh muscles

Stretched muscle:

Quadriceps (Quadriceps femoris muscle)

The athlete stands upright. The foot of the stretched leg is pressed against the buttocks. Both thighs are approximately parallel. To do this in this exercise balance not to lose, a point can be fixed in front of the body. To increase the stretch, the hips can be pushed forward. If the thighs are not kept parallel by moving the thigh of the stretched leg backwards, the stretch of the will increase Lumbar bone muscle (M. iliopsoas).

see leg muscles for more information

Stretched muscle:

Lumbar bone muscle (M. iliopsoas)

Tailor muscle (M. sartorius)

Similar to the stretching of the calf muscles, the athlete stands in a step position in this stretching exercise. Here, however, the stretched thigh is shifted towards the floor and the hip is pushed forward. The stretch is clearly noticeable on the top of the front thigh.

More information is available at Leg muscle training

Stretched muscle:

large gluteus muscle (Gluteus maximus muscle)

During this stretching exercise, the athlete stands upright and grips the upper part of the lower leg with both hands. This is actively pulled towards the chest muscles.

However, here in the picture it is about the Maximus gluteus Maximus.

Stretched muscle:

biceps thigh muscle (Biceps femoris muscle)

Hemi-tendon muscle (Semitendinosus muscle)

Flat tendon muscle (Semimembranosus muscle)

Most athletes find the stretching exercises for the back of the thigh very uncomfortable. The athlete tries to touch the tips of his toes with his fingers with his legs straight and his back straight. To increase the stretch, the legs can be crossed. Here, however, the thigh sides are stretched separately from each other. The stretching exercises for the back of the thigh can also be done while sitting.

What should you watch out for when stretching?

In order to achieve success in stretching exercises, there are a few things to keep in mind. For one thing, you should Perform training regularly, otherwise there will be no success. The exercises should always symptom-free can be carried out. If pain occurs, you should urgently consult a doctor and stop the stretching exercises.

Stretching exercises should never with cold muscles be performed. Before every stretching program you should do a small warm-up program perform to prepare the body.

It is also important to do the individual exercises calm and controlled to start, perform and finish. Jerky and hasty movements can injure the ligaments and muscles. A calm breathing supports the relaxing and releasing character of the stretching exercises. One should go for his stretching routine always enough time to take. Stretches performed under pressure may have been incorrectly performed and therefore not have the desired effect. In addition, misalignments can creep in. Therefore you should always pay attention to the Perform exercises correctly and not to make evasive movements.