A must before every workout, stretching exercises greatly improve flexibility as well as maintain muscle tone. During a stretch, the blood flow to the muscles increases, thus raising the body temperature and heart rate. Stretching exercises, when performed appropriately, reduce the possibility of muscle damage and increase the range of motion of the stretched muscle.
The biceps brachii and triceps brachii muscles constitute the main muscles of the upper arm from the shoulder to the elbow. Stretching these muscles is essential prior to weight and resistance training. It’s best to perform the following exercises before your workout because they are simple, yet extremely effective in making your muscles supple and flexible.
Place your right palm on your back between your shoulder blades with your elbow pointing upwards. Then, gently pull your elbow towards your head with your left hand. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds and then slowly return to your original position and relax. Repeat this exercise, placing your left palm on your back.
- Stand perpendicular to a wall with your right side against it. Your right hand should touch the wall and your fingers should point downwards. Next, turn the palm of your hand so that it faces and touches the wall. Slowly lift your right arm up behind you (up to shoulder level), while maintaining contact with the wall. Then, turn your body slowly to your left to stretch your biceps along with your pectoral muscles. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds and then move slowly back to your original position and relax. Repeat this exercise with your left side against the wall. You can place your arm higher or lower than shoulder level to stretch the biceps differently.
Hold your palms together behind your back. Straighten your arms and rotate your wrists such that your fingertips point downwards. Then, slowly lift your arms up as high as your muscles permit. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds and then move slowly back to your original position and relax. With this stretching exercise you should feel the stretch not only in your biceps, but also simultaneously in your shoulders and chest.
Place your palms together above your head, and extend your arms upwards keeping your palms in contact. Then, with your back kept straight, move your arms slowly backwards until you feel a mild tension in your muscles. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds and then slowly return to your original position and relax.
Precautions You Need to Take
Remember to stretch but not strain your muscles. Overstretching could harm rather than help your muscles. Each exercise should be repeated at least 4 to 5 times. Stretch a little further each time, but stop if you feel uncomfortable. Breathe normally during each stretching exercise, and do not hold your breath at any point.
Stretching exercises help you warm-up and cool-down your muscles. Therefore, it’s important to perform these stretching exercises both before and after a strenuous exercise routine for maximum health benefits.