What are the Different Types of Upper Body Stretches?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 26 January 2020
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Many different types of stretches are available to help increase flexibility and strengthen the body. Upper body stretches are often used by people who do a lot of reaching in their work, such as lab workers. Many different types of upper body stretches can be completed, including neck stretches, bicep stretches, and several others.

Neck stretches can be a very helpful addition to any daily stretching routine. Also known as the trap stretch, the neck stretch can be performed nearly anywhere. It involves pulling one's head toward the shoulder with the palm of one hand. Many people, from construction workers to writers who work at a computer, suffer from neck pain and can benefit from neck stretching.

Shoulder stretches are upper body stretches that can benefit many people as well. Anterior shoulder stretches are completed by pulling one arm across the chest while grasping the elbow with the opposite hand. Posterior shoulder stretches include using a rope or towel to pull in an upward stretch. Bicep and tricep stretches can be done in a similar way, though the rope or towel will be pulled down instead of up.


Chest stretches can include a series of movements. In one stretch, the exerciser can push off against a wall with two hands in a twisting manner to stretch the chest. Other upper body stretches for the chest include executing the same twisting motion with only one hand, or simply using the hand for balance while twisting without the wall.

Upper body stretches in the back may also involve multiple moves. These can all usually be done with the aid of a bar or pole. The pole should be grasped as the exerciser bends to fully extend and stretch his or her back. Athletes may also grasp the pole with one hand, as they extend the other hand out to stretch the back muscles beneath the armpit.

Wrist stretching can be done for multiple goals. A person can stretch with increasing the ability to flex, rotate, or to extend the wrist. Extending the wrist can be accomplished by extending an arm, palm up, and grasping the fingers as the hand is pulled inward.

The other two exercises begin with the same extended pose. To flex the wrist, point the fingers to the floor while grasping them with the opposite hand and pulling toward the body. The hand can be twisted away from the body while the opposite hand pulls it toward the body for a rotation stretch.

Some upper body stretches can be easily completed at one's desk. A reaching stretch can be completed by interlacing the fingers, turning the palms outward, and stretching them out at shoulder height. The same movement can be done for the overhead stretch, which is simply performing the stretch above one's head.


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