The Most Important Body Parts To Stretch That You're Probably Missing

When it comes to day-to-day activities, we ask a lot from our bodies. Whether it's working on our feet all day or working out at the gym, we put our muscles and joints through the wringer. While many of us get proper exercise, very few take the time to stretch those sore muscles. Whether you sit at a computer all day or work lifting heavy items, taking time to stretch your joints and muscles could be exactly what you need to add to your workout routine (via Men's Health). 


By stretching every day, you are minimizing the risk of injury while giving your muscles some much-needed TLC. While many of us stretch our legs and shoulders, there are other body parts that need your attention that may surprise you. They keep your base strong, and almost all of them will improve your posture. Are you stretching these six areas?

Show your feet and ankles some love

To begin really taking care of your body, you need to start from the ground up. Your feet make impact with the ground all day, and they are the first of your extremities you should be stretching. Everything starts at your feet. If your feet and ankles can't support your movement, nothing else can thrive (via Aaptiv). Stretching your feet is also a great way to prevent injury. Our feet are often tight, and this tension can lead to injury (via Lancaster Podiatry). 


In order to properly stretch your feet, use a foam roller or a frozen water bottle on the bottom. Roll this in a back-and-forth motion massaging the bottom of each foot. In addition, take care of your ankles by rolling them slowly and gently in a circular motion. Start with rolling them in a clockwise direction, and then reverse the circles (via Men's Health). By taking care of yourself from bottom to top, you'll allow your feet and ankles to carry you better as you age.

Our hips don't lie

As we age, we start to get a new understanding of Shakira's famous song. For many women, we carry so much stress in our hips. By giving them some much-needed attention, you can keep them happy and healthy while relieving stress. Experts recommend stretching your hips before and after your workouts to increase mobility (via Aaptiv). A good stretch to start with addresses your hip flexors. First, you get down on the ground on all fours. Then, slowly push your legs back to a downward dog position. Repeat this move multiple times to get a deep stretch. 


Another effective option is the pigeon pose. Yoga teachers everywhere swear by this move to help your hips and your lower back (via Healthline). Combined with improving digestion, this stretch has been credited with relieving the stress we hold in our midsection. This is a more challenging pose that should not be attempted if pregnant or injured. To try it, lower down to a half lunge and cross your front leg in front of your body. Lower down and see how far you can collapse your upper half over that bent leg. Repeat on the other side. These stretches will open up your hips and allow for some stress relief at the same time.

Get a six-pack stretch

Most people have another overused and underappreciated part of their bodies: their abs. Our core supports everything we do, and taking the time to give it some love is time well spent. There are so many benefits to stretching your core. Doing so will improve your posture, prevent injury, and help you move with ease (via Healthline). 


To get the best ab stretch you can, experts recommend the cat-cow, popular in many yoga classes. To start, begin on all fours with your knees below your shoulders. Inhale as you let your lower back curve your head up like a cow and exhale as you carefully transition back to arching your back like a cat (via the Mayo Clinic). Doing this multiple times can help tight muscles in your stomach and back. In addition to the cat-cow, the upward dog position is excellent for a deep core stretch. Start face down, lying flat on the ground with your hands under your shoulders. Push up, tilting your upper half away from the floor and holding for a nice, long stretch (via Yoga Journal). Repeat a couple of times for better mobility.


Give your arms and wrists some love

Believe it or not, our arms and wrists are often ignored in stretching. Perhaps it's that it's more natural to stretch the muscles that are holding us up, but our wrists and arms do a lot of work for us. Everyone can benefit from making sure their wrists and arms aren't tight. Our arms can be overworked by weightlifting or carrying heavy objects, and our wrists are really working when we do pushups or planks (via Aaptiv). 


Stretching one or both of these body parts is quite simple. For your arms, take one arm and stretch it in the opposite direction across your chest. Hold it with your opposite arm, and feel the massage this stretch gives your outer arm. Repeat on the other side. As far as your wrists go, do the same circle rotations that you did with your ankles. Make sure to switch the direction of your circles for a balanced stretch. In addition, standing or sitting, put your hand straight out in front of you and pull back on your fingers with your opposite hand. Rotate your hand and wrist upside down (via NBC News). Repeat on the other side.

Quality quadricep care

After you've given your feet, ankles, and upper half some love, it's time to pay attention to one of your largest muscle groups. Your quads are probably tighter than you realize. Stretching them will prevent injury, help posture, and increase mobility. The quadriceps consist of four muscles that you most likely feel working any time you move (via Men's Health). 


The most popular stretch for this set of muscles is to stand up straight, kick back one leg and hold it behind you for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. In addition to this quad stretch, those interested in stretching this body part can lie belly down on the ground with a resistance band and wrap it around the ankle pulling in the leg for an even deeper stretch (via More Life Health). Try these exercises once a day consistently, and see how your flexibility improves.

Perfect the pectoral stretch

The final place that is often overlooked when stretching is the chest. Our chests can become very tight especially if we are asked to lift for a living or sit stagnant at a computer for lengths of time. Our posture can improve from chest stretches as well as our breathing and circulation (via Well + Good). For chest openers, try the doorway stretch. Stand in a doorway and place your forearm against the wall. Twist at the waist in the opposite direction of your arm giving your chest and arms a good stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side (via Well + Good). 


Want more? Try an above-the-head chest stretch. Seated or standing, interlock your hands behind your head with your elbows out. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds and then alternate your top hand (via Ace Fitness). By giving your pectoral area some love, you will not only improve your posture, but you should also feel quite refreshed.

We have all been told how important it is for us to consistently stretch as we age. These six — often overlooked — areas of the body are craving a good stretch to help mobility and decrease injury. The next time you work out, plan some extra time to give these body parts some love. Your body will thank you.