Five general stretches everyone should know before exercising


Many people feel a rush of enthusiasm before exercising and jump straight into running, rowing or gym routines without any thought to potential injuries. The fact is that while exercising is good for you, if you haven’t correctly prepared for your 30 minute routine, you could do more harm than good. If, for example, you have a problem area that becomes painful during exercises, consider supportive sportswear to remedy the problem. Check out the products at health rehab and first aid specialist Optomo to see what you might need before exercising. They also have a great competition out at the moment for any budding fitness gurus, which you can check out at their Optomo Competitions page.

In the meantime, try stretching to get yourself ready before hitting the track or gym. It need only be about 10 minutes, but you will find the benefits priceless. Here are five basic stretches everyone should know and practice before exercising.

Calf stretch

This stretch helps to limber up your calf muscles. Stand about an arm’s length away from a wall or something sturdy. Use the wall as support to stand toe to heel with both legs rigidly straight. Bend the knee of the leg in front as far as you can, while keeping the leg behind as straight as possible.

Hold for 30 seconds, swap the positions of your feet and repeat.

Hamstring stretch

The hamstring, which runs along the back of your upper leg, is particularly susceptible to injury if not limbered up properly. Lie on your back near a wall corner or door frame and lift a leg to place the heel against the wall, keeping the knee bent. Gently stretch the other leg through the doorway or past the corner until you feel a stretch at the back of the thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat. Move closer to the door frame as you get more adept at the stretch.

Knee-to-chest stretch

This is a simple stretch aimed at strengthening the muscles in your lower back. Lie on your back and gently pull one knee as close to your chest as is comfortable, while keeping the other leg flat but relaxed against the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat. You should avoid this stretch if you have osteoporosis.

Shoulder stretch

Shoulder stretches are ideal if you play sports that require a lot of throwing or over-arm movement, such as tennis, golf, cricket or baseball. While standing, bring one arm across your body and hold it tightly near the elbow while stretching it slightly. Hold for 30 seconds before switching arms and repeating.

Neck stretch

This is a handy stretch even if you are not about to exercise, as the neck is one of the areas which is most commonly affected by stiffness and aches. Bend your head slightly forward and to the right.

Gently pull your head further forward with your right hand until you feel the muscles on the left side of your neck tighten. Hold for 30 seconds and then do the same thing with the other side.

Always remember that stretches like these are generic; therefore they will not be suitable for people with existing back, neck or other problems. Stretches are designed to improve your ability to move freely and to relieve pain. If they cause pain, stop and see your doctor.


  1. Elizabeth Matthiesen says

    It is so important to do stretches before commencing with any exercise. It helps to warm up muscles and prevent injuries.

  2. Thanks so much for the stretching tips! I am guilty of not stretching properly before I exercise and end up in pain. These are simple and easy to remember!
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  3. Thanks for the reminders. I did workout two days ago. I did not stretch poperly and the back of my legs are KILLING me! :-/ I will remember these next time!
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  4. It helps to actually get off one's duff and get moving!
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  5. Sharon Wong says

    great exercises for the morning. Also a great way to wake you up and get fit. 🙂

  6. rochkirstin says

    Oh this is a good reminder to stretch and warm up those muscles before exercise or workouts. I think half an hour is good to perform all these.

  7. Rebecca Swenor says

    Great tips for stretching indeed. Stretching is so very important so you don't pull a muscle or etc. Thanks for sharing.

  8. OMG, thank you for this article! My neck is a mess from years of computer work and your stretch tip was extremely useful. Thank you for sharing this tips.
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  9. I keep telling my husband that we need to stretch more, especially as we are getting older. This is a great collection to add to our workout routine.

  10. Stretching is SO important before a good workout. I learned this the hard way when I first started going to the gym. I didn't think stretching would make a difference but boy did it.
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  11. I wish I'd seen this post when I first started working out. I just jumped right in with no thought to stretching at all. BIG mistake. The next day, I felt like I'd been beaten head to toe with a baseball bat.
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  12. John Lopez says

    Thanks for the great tips on stretching first.

  13. Stretching is so important and something many beginners forget or think they don't need.
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  14. emmatustian says

    Always good to remind people about stretching. I know I'm slack about doing them when I'm doing exercise dvds at home

  15. Paula Parker says

    Great information. I am the worst when it come to doing stretches. My legs really pay for it sometimes too.

  16. Good pointers! I need to stretch more…

  17. dedezoomsalot900300623 says

    I never realized how important it was to stretch before a workout until I didn't do it. Boy, did I feel it afterward!

  18. hannah staveley says

    This is a fantastic blog post such good information.

  19. Great tips.. my son and husband constantly work out, i don't think they stretch like this, will have to forward to them to read… I loved your tips and will try them for my own stretching..thanks for sharing

  20. Stretching is extremely important! I know I have hurt one of my knees once by not doing stretches before exercising.

  21. Ann Bacciaglia says

    I love stretching as it makes me feel relaxed. I sit at a computer for 10 hours a day so stretching every couple hours is very important.

  22. mamatomanyblessings says

    I so need to do these before my workouts. Especially when using muscles I normally do not use.
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  23. It's so important to stretch before and after a workout, I learned that the hard way haha

  24. Great stretches! I always warm up before stretching- without a warm up, pulling cold muscles can be dangerous!
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  25. Thanks for sharing these! I've been doing a lot more walking lately, and I will be pinning this to refer to.
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  26. Stretching is definitely important as we don't want to risk an injury

  27. Kristin Wheeler says

    GREAT post! These are the ones my PT tells me I need to work on. I always try and get lazy and not do them, but they truly help when you do!

  28. Thanks for the tips. I am so bad at remember to stretch before exercising.
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  29. Rayveniael says

    It is interesting to read the importance. There is a big debate about whether it helps or not. But I still do it! Thank you!

  30. wow this looks so interesting!

  31. rubbieanne says

    this looks so interesting! thankies

  32. Oh my! I need to workout again! thanks for sharing tips.

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