There are many stretching techniques you can use with a variety of equipment, ranging from gym machines to household items. Stretching benefits the body by increasing blood flow and keeping muscles and joints limber. This can help reduce the risk or quicken healing from injury. With any stretching program, proceed at your own pace and only stretch to a point that is comfortable for you. If you have chronic pain or are prone to injury, check your positioning with a chiropractor, personal trainer or other certified and professional body worker.
Back and Chest Stretch with an Exercise Ball
Before purchasing an exercise ball, try one at a gym or the chiropractor's office to find the best size for your height and abilities. Sit on the ball with your feet about shoulder width or slightly less far apart. Slowly walk forward, leaning back as you go. Engage the upper legs to help maintain balance. Your mid back should curve around the ball. Let your arms fall to the side. You can walk further forward or a bit further back to change what area of the back gets stretched. As you walk more forward, the ball will hit the upper back. This will help open the chest.
Upper Back with Stretch Band
Use a stretch band at the gym or a flexible cord at home. Grasp the band with your hands shoulder width apart, and raise your arms over your head. Pull the band apart until you feel the stretch in the upper back. Then pull your arms behind you and attempt again to stretch the band, pulling with both arms outward.
Leg Stretch with Stretch Band
Lie on your back on a mat. Extend one leg up in the air and try to make the bottom of your foot parallel to the ceiling. Take the band and grasp it with both hands. Rest it on the middle of the ball of the foot and use it to try to stretch the toes back toward you. This will stretch the calves and hamstring.
There are many household and gym items you can use to help you stretch your calf. You can also purchase a calf stretcher online for between $20 and $40. If you're using a stair or step, stand on the step and put one foot behind you so that the step hits in the middle of the ball of the foot. Try to lower the back heel while keeping the foot on the step. The calf stretcher basically provides you with a flexible step to use to stretch the calf.
A Full-Body Stretching Machine
You can buy one piece of equipment to stretch every part of the body. These machines cost around $600, but can fit in your home. Many gyms have machines that you can use for stretching all parts of the body.