Completing a daily full-body stretch routine can benefit someone’s physical and mental well-being. The routine may incorporate both static and dynamic stretches.

Stretches can be either static, where the person holds a still position, or dynamic, meaning that the person carries out the stretch while moving.

Stretching can be mildly uncomfortable at first, but it should not be painful. An individual stretch will typically last 10–30 seconds. It can help to repeat a stretch routine, as it becomes easier to extend the muscles once they have properly loosened up.

Below are some variations of full body stretch routines that a person may use. They include a daily full body routine and examples of specific stretch routines for runners, athletes, and those looking to improve their hip flexibility.

Person doing lunges outdoors as part of daily stretching routineShare on Pinterest
Image credit: Undrey / Shutterstock.

Stretching regularly will loosen the muscles and increase a person’s range of motion. Due to these effects, it can lower the risk of injuries such as sprains, which affects ligaments, or strains, affecting muscles or tendons.

Stretching can also reduce pain from chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis and lower back pain.

If any of the stretches cause discomfort, it is important to stop immediately. Stretching should be within the range of individual ability, and even gentle stretching can have benefits.

People can start this routine at the top of the body and gradually work down to reduce the likelihood of missing major muscle groups.

Beginning a daily stretch routine may seem daunting, particularly for those who already have a busy schedule. However, it only requires a person to set aside 10–15 minutes each day. Many people choose to fit this in first thing in the morning or just before bed.

1. Neck roll

  • Stand up straight with the feet shoulder-width apart and the arms loose.
  • Dip the chin slightly toward the chest.
  • Gently roll the head in a clockwise motion for 1 rotation, taking about 7 seconds.
  • Rest for 5 seconds, then roll the head anticlockwise in the same motion.
  • Repeat 3 times.

2. Shoulder roll

  • Stand up straight with the arms loose.
  • Without bending the arms, slowly raise the shoulders and then roll them back in a circular motion.
  • Roll the shoulders backward 5 times and then reverse the movement, rolling them forward.
  • Repeat the sequence 2 times.

3. Behind-head tricep stretch

  • Extend the left arm straight upward, with the elbow close to the head.
  • Bend the left elbow so that the left hand drops behind the neck.
  • Using the right hand, hold the left upper arm behind the elbow and gently press down, pushing the left hand farther down the back.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, then rest for 5 seconds before repeating with the right arm.
  • Repeat 2 more times.

4. Standing hip rotation

  • Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart and place the hands on the hips.
  • Slowly move the hips forward, then rotate them clockwise for 3 rotations.
  • Bring the hips back to the center and then repeat the movement anticlockwise.

5. Standing hamstring stretch

  • Stand up straight. Keeping the right foot flat on the ground, bend the right knee slightly and extend the left leg forward.
  • Flex the left foot, with the heel on the ground and the toes facing upward.
  • Place the hands on the right thigh and lean slightly forward, raising the left toes.
  • Hold for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat the movement with the other leg.
  • Repeat the entire sequence 3 times.

6. Quadriceps stretch

  • Stand upright. For balance, hold onto a solid structure or wall with the right hand.
  • Keep the right leg straight with the foot flat on the ground and bend the left knee, bringing the foot up behind.
  • Take the foot with the left hand and gently press it toward the left buttock, keeping the hips and knees in line.
  • Hold for 30 seconds. After 20 seconds’ rest, repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Repeat the entire sequence 3 times.

7. Ankle roll

  • Stand with the left foot flat on the ground and the right heel raised so that the pressure is on the toes.
  • Keeping the toes on the ground, roll the right foot in a clockwise direction for 10 rotations, then repeat anticlockwise.
  • Switch to the left foot and repeat the exercise.

8. Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose, a yoga position, can be a relaxing way to end a stretch routine.

  • Kneel with the toes pointed back, so the tops of the feet lie flat along the ground.
  • Sit back against the heels.
  • Push the buttocks back and lower the chest toward the floor, sliding the arms forward.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times, with 10-second rest periods between the stretches.

Maintaining hip flexibility may help a person avoid some painful conditions, such as hip osteoarthritis. The following exercises aim to stretch different muscles around the hip.

1. Knee-to-chest stretch

  • Lie flat on the back with the legs straight.
  • Keeping the right leg straight along the ground, bend the left leg, and place the hands just below the knee.
  • Pull the left knee gently toward the chest and hold for 10 seconds.
  • Replace the leg and repeat the stretch with the right leg.
  • Repeat the sequence 5 times.

2. Hip abduction

  • Lie down on the left side of the body, with the right leg resting on the left leg.
  • Bend the bottom (left) leg slightly and lift the extended top leg to approximately 45°, keeping the body on the side.
  • Keep the leg elevated for 5 seconds, then lower it for 2 seconds.
  • Repeat 4 more times with this leg.
  • Turn onto the right side of the body and repeat the entire sequence.

3. Standing iliotibial (IT) band stretch

  • Begin by standing upright.
  • Cross the left leg behind the right leg and lift the left arm above the head.
  • Lean the upper body to the right, avoiding any twisting or forward motion.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat the entire sequence 4 times.
  • If it is challenging to balance in this stretch, use a wall for support.

Learn more stretches and exercises for hips here.

Running is a high impact activity. If a runner does not stretch properly beforehand, they may risk injury to the muscles. It is also important to stretch after a run.

1. Supine hamstring stretch

  • Lie flat on the floor with both knees bent.
  • Gently straighten the left leg upward, creating a 90° angle with the floor.
  • Place the hands behind the left thigh, and pull the leg toward the head. If it is challenging to reach the leg with the hands, loop a towel or blanket around the leg and hold each end of that instead.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat with the other leg after a 30-second rest.
  • Complete the entire sequence 4 times.

2. Quadriceps stretch

See the full body daily stretching routine section above for the steps.

3. Side lunge

  • Stand with the feet hip-width wide apart.
  • Take a big step to the left, keeping both feet facing forward.
  • Bend the left knee and move the hips toward the left, keeping both feet flat and facing forward.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and then return to the original position. Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat the entire sequence 5 times.

4. Cobra stretch

  • Lie on the front with the tops of the feet flat on the floor and the arms bent, so the hands are just below the shoulders.
  • Keeping the hips on the floor, gently push upward, lifting the head and upper chest.
  • Hold for 20 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch 4 more times.

Learn more stretches for runners here.

An athlete must stretch regularly to maintain healthy muscle function. The ideal stretching program will vary among sporting specialties, but it may include the following exercises.

1. Forward lunge

  • Begin by standing upright.
  • Take a big step forward with the left leg and lower the hips, bending both legs to about 90 degrees and keeping the body upright.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then take 10 seconds rest before switching legs.
  • Repeat the sequence 3 times.

2. Side seat straddle

  • Sit with the legs extended out to the sides and the toes pointing up.
  • Place the hands on the left shin and lean the chin toward the knee as far as is comfortable. Try to keep the back as straight as possible.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, leave 5 seconds rest, then repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat the sequence 3 times.

3. Triceps stretch

  • Stand up straight.
  • Bring the left arm across the front of the body so that it extends past the right shoulder.
  • Bend the right arm to hold the left forearm, bringing it toward the chest — be sure to hold the arm and not the elbow joint.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other arm.
  • Repeat the sequence 3 times.

Always be cautious not to lock the joints during a stretch. Doing this can cause hyperextension, where the joints extend beyond their normal limits, increasing the risk of injury.

If a stretch is painful, do not force the movement. Instead, stop and rest to avoid the risk of a sprain or strain.

Avoid bouncing during stretches, as this can increase the risk of injury. It is important to keep good posture during each stretch.

If a person performs stretches correctly, they should not cause excessive discomfort. A person should see a doctor or physical therapist if stretching or exercising is causing pain.

For people with conditions that cause chronic pain, a doctor or physical therapist may help devise a personal exercise program to reduce discomfort.

Anyone who is unsure about what stretches to include in a routine, or how to perform them, can check with a professional.

A daily stretching routine can have physical and mental benefits for people of all ages. Stretching keeps the muscles loose, which lowers the chance of sprains and strains.

People should see a doctor or physical therapist if stretching causes pain, as this may indicate an underlying problem.