Stretching muscles that are hard to reach

Regardless of how diligent you are in stretching after every workout (which, by the way, I salute you for), some muscles in your body are not getting the attention they deserve. Though forward folds and pigeon poses can relieve tight hamstrings and hip tension, some spots are impossible to reach, which may explain why you’re still sore after a full stretch session.

In the following article, chiropractor Keren Day, DC, cofounder of Racked Stretch studio, reveals the five hardest muscles to stretch, plus what you should do to breathe a sigh of relief when you need them.

1. The pectoral muscles

Pecs, the muscles that connect your chest to your shoulders, tend to get tight if you’re hunched over a computer screen most of the time. In order to achieve ergonomically correct spinal alignment, it is important to keep your muscles lengthened throughout the day if they are contracted all day long.

Stretch your pecs as follows:

  1. As you lay on a foam roller, align it so that it runs parallel with your spine.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground. With your arms out to the sides and palms facing up,
  3. make snow angels by slowly moving your arms up and down. Your pecs will gently open up with this, says Dr. Day.
  4. This should be repeated one more time.

2. The muscles of the sartorius

The sartorius muscle may be causing knee pain if you are experiencing unexplained discomfort. According to Dr. Day, the tailor muscle crosses the hip and the knee, connecting the two major joints in the lower body. One of them can be tight, resulting in pesky inner knee pain or tight hips.”

Sartorius muscles can be stretched in the following ways:

  1. Your legs need to be stacked on top of each other as you lay on one side. Let your bottom leg rest on the floor while you bend your knee and hip to 90 degrees, then let the knee of your top leg rest on the ground.
  2. Pull your ankle of your top leg back towards your butt with your top hand (you can rest your bottom hand on the ground for support), then lift your ankle out toward the side while keeping your knee on the floor.
  3. After a 30-second hold, switch sides.

3. Muscle of the soleus

One of your calves has a muscle called the gastrocnemius. Your stretching routine most likely neglects the soleus muscle, below. In addition to the ankle joint, it crosses the larger muscle at the top, which can make it difficult to stretch. You can stretch the soleus to loosen tight calves and increase ankle mobility by stretching the soleus.”

Stretching your soleus muscle:

  1. Lean forward and wrap a stretch strap around the ball of your foot while extending your other leg long.
  2. Bend and straighten your leg, keeping your foot flexed, while raising the leg with the strap.
  3. After a 30-second hold, switch sides.

4. The rhomboid muscle

According to Dr. Day, your rhomboids are the muscles between your shoulder blades, which are constantly being pulled on or eccentrically contracted all day-similar to a stretched out elastic band. Dr. Day says you’ll need to apply pressure while stretching them to help increase oxygen to the tissue, which will help revive the muscles and allow them to return to their proper position.

Stretching your rhomboids:

  1. Lay on your stomach and lift your left arm so it is vertical with your spine (knees bent and feet flat on thefloor).
  2. When stretching the arm, make sure the foam roller is on the rhomboid.
  3. Switch sides after one minute.

5. Muscle of the psoas

Psoas muscle is often referred to as the back pain muscle, and it can assist anyone suffering from back pain by stretching it out. This structure extends from your mid-lower back down through your hips to your femur, providing a connection between your upper body and your legs. When this muscle gets tight, it will fight to stay taught, which will cause you to bend at the waist,” says Day. “This means that your back muscles have to work harder to maintain your body in an upright position.”

Stretching your psoas:

  1. Knees bent and feet flat on the floor, lie on your back. Roll your rolled-up yoga mat or foam roller underneath your lower back while lifting your hips.
  2. As you pull your knees toward your chest, straighten one leg (while holding the other knee so you are anchored), and drop your heel. Pull your knee into your chest after letting it linger for a moment.
  3. Switch sides after five or six repetitions.

After a 30-second hold, switch sides.

Need some more stretching inspiration? Follow along with the video below. 

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