Animals and babies instinctively know the benefits of movements that gently stretch the muscles and ligaments of the body. Our bodies too often find themselves in unnatural, “squeezed” poses that bring tension and pain … Some serious arguments in favor of stretching exercises.

Relieve stress, correct posture, improve digestion, get rid of headaches and joint problems – all this can be achieved with the help of stretching – stretching exercises. But it is important to remember that such exercises are not always useful on their own.

As many experts note, the intensity of stretching should depend on the individual capabilities of the person. The basic principle is no self-abuse! Otherwise, you can get the overstretching of micro-bundles, or the so-called effect of old rubber. The most useful thing in stretching is not the amplitude of the movement, but the change in the effects of compression and stretching.

How stretching works

According to physiology, under stress, the muscles remain in constant tension (hypertonicity), preventing blood and lymph from circulating normally. A stretched muscle does not just relax, but comes in a tone opposite to tension. More blood rushes to it, as a result, its nutrition improves (trophic). The blood supply to the heart muscle, brain and other internal organs improves.

Stretching exercises are a special form of working with energy, they are included in all Eastern bodily practices.

The same thing happens with lymphatic circulation. All cells in the body, and most importantly the brain, receive more oxygen. And finally, the main advantage of stretching over dynamic exercises: static stretching allows you to maintain relaxation and control over breathing. Stretching exercises are a special form of working with energy, which is why they are included in all Eastern bodily practices, whether yoga, taichi, wushu or qigong.

Chinese medicine view

If the muscles can be affected by massage, then the ligaments – only stretching exercises. The development of joint elasticity prevents arthrosis and arthritis, and according to Chinese medicine, by developing joints, we literally extend our life.

“The Chinese believe that the foot works as a lever for the heart,” says Igor Kisurin, specialist in oriental wellness techniques. – The ligament acts as a trap that captures blood and prevents it from circulating freely. Therefore, an elastic ligament is a prerequisite to prevent rapid wear of the heart. “

Ligaments also affect the functioning of the liver and gall bladder – these organs are responsible for the temper and the state of depression. Proper stretching complexes allow you to keep the middle ground – to remain in a calm, harmonious, balanced state of mind.


It was the eastern practices of working with the body that formed the basis of the famous system developed by Joseph Pilates. Pilates was a sickly child, suffered from asthma, but regular exercise made him a healthy, athletic young man.

Once in prison during the First World War, Joseph tried out the invented methodology among his friends, political prisoners, who suffered from health problems. After the war, Pilates moved to New York, where famous dancers and artists began to study according to his system. The technique has received worldwide recognition. In the 90s, its principles began to be used by rehabilitation and medical centers around the world.

Unlike fitness programs, which are aimed at developing large muscles and rapidly contracting muscle fibers, Pilates involves deep muscles: the transverse abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, that is, the small muscles that support the body from the inside. “Such work makes simple physical exercises a real mental training,” says Maria Permyakova, an instructor at the Moscow Institute of Pilates. “She develops the ability to concentrate on her feelings.”


Callanetics, based on the effect of static stretching and subsequent compression, was also named after its founder, Callan Pinckney. Pinckney was an American ballerina who got rid of problems with the spine and joints of the hips and knees through exercise.

While traveling to the East, she studied yoga and breathing exercises. Her system has incorporated all the best of yoga, ballet, modern dance, taichi and even belly dance. Instructors call it a natural sculptor of the body, note a low risk of injury.

The peculiarity of the system is a high static load on different muscle groups: having taken a given position, you need to hold it with muscle effort for 60-100 seconds. But some experts believe that callanetics has contraindications: it is not suitable for those who suffer from asthma or serious cardiovascular diseases.

The path to inner harmony

Each technique has its own nuances, each based on conscious breathing, body control, concentration on sensations, the ability to control individual muscles, and continuity of movements. Mikhail Eremushkin, scientific director of the restorative medicine section of the Russian Association for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation of Patients and Disabled (RASMIRBI), explains that the prototype system of these techniques has been around for thousands of years. It is part of Eastern philosophy, and its components are time-tested.

Today there are new methods of working with the body. You are unlikely to be able to radically change your figure with stretching, but to be well, you don’t have to have an athletic figure. It is more important to learn how to restore emotional state, to find a balance between nervous excitement and complete apathy. Indeed, it is precisely about this – about spiritual harmony – that most people dream of. And this will help yoga, Pilates or ordinary stretching.


1. Shoulders

Performance. Sitting or standing, spread your legs slightly, with your feet parallel to each other. Having straightened your back, bend your arm at chest level and pull its elbow towards you with your other hand to stretch the shoulder muscle. Press the elbow with increasing force for 15 seconds, then relax. Repeat three times with each hand. 

The effect of exercise. Stretches the triceps (triceps) and shoulder muscles, kneads the joints, which are often clamped. When fatigue appears, the upper body is pinched first. By relaxing this area, we prevent the spread of stress further. 

2. Loin

Performance. Lying on your back, stretch your arms to the sides, palms down, legs straightened. Bend your right knee and place your right foot on your left knee. Then turn the pelvis to the left and tilt the right knee to the floor as low as possible. Turning your head in the direction of your right hand, press your right shoulder to the floor as hard as possible to increase the twisting effect. Breathing deeply, hold this position for 15–20 seconds, then turn the other way. 

The effect of exercise. It stretches the spine, especially the square muscle of the lower back and buttocks, and also helps with back pain. These pains are often associated with our emotional state. Relaxation of the lumbar region will gradually relieve emotional stress. 

3. Waist

Performance. Standing, slightly spread your legs, feet parallel to each other. Raise your hands with your fingers twisted over your head, palms up. Without bending in the lower back, firmly rest your feet on the floor and stretch up, as if you would like to reach the ceiling with the crown. Then, leaning slightly to the right, pull the left side. Be careful: try not so much to bend as to reach up. Do not forget about breathing. At first, do not stay in this position for too long, as this is a rather tedious exercise. 

The effect of exercise. “Reveals” the chest, stretches the waist muscles and abs, returns the spine to the correct position. Relieving stress from the diaphragm and solar plexus, it promotes deep breathing and charges the body with calmness and energy. 

4. Buttocks

Performance. Standing, slightly spread your legs, feet parallel to each other. Grasp the left foot with your left hand and pull it to the buttock. Breathing deeply, hold this position for 15 seconds (do this twice for each leg). You should feel how the front muscle of the thigh is stretched. You can lean your hand against the back of a chair or against a wall to better maintain balance. 

The effect of exercise. Relieves tension from the quadriceps muscle, which has a large load, and therefore it tends to lose elasticity. By stretching and relaxing a muscle, we saturate it with oxygen and help it gain a smooth, rounded shape. 

5. The spine

Performance. Sitting on your knees, lay down on your hips with your chest, being careful not to tear your buttocks off your heels. Hands lie on each side on the floor, palms up. Lower your head, leaning your forehead on the floor or laying it on its side; You can put a small roller under it. Close your eyes, breathe easily and deeply, try to concentrate on your breathing and not think about anything for at least 30 seconds. 

The effect of exercise. In yoga, this position is called the “pose of the child”: it calms the mind, gives rest to the legs and relaxes the entire spine – from the lower back to the cervical vertebrae.