5 Stretches You Can Do with a Strap or Towel

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5 Easy Stretches with a Strap or Towel

Photo of sweaty man stretching with a towel.
You can use a towel or strap to improve flexibility. Adrianna Williams/Getty Images

You can use a strap or towel to improve your overall flexibility.

One way to prevent injuries, such as muscular strains and ligament sprains, is to maintain flexibility in your muscles and joints. Stretching exercises can help keep your muscles moving freely and your joints moving through their full range of motion (ROM). This can ensure that your body functions as it should. Good flexibility and exercise can give you a sense of well-being, too.

There are many different ways to stretch a muscle or to move your joints through their ROM. One specific way is to use a towel or a stretching strap to help improve flexibility. Your belt is also a great tool that you can use to perform these stretches.

Here are five popular stretches that you can do right now with just a towel, your belt, or a strap. Be sure to check with your doctor or physical therapist to make sure that stretching exercises are safe for you to perform.

Each stretch can be performed two or three times per day and should be held for 20 to 30 seconds. Grab your towel, and start stretching.

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The Hamstring Stretch with a Towel

A towel can be used to help stretch your hamstrings.
Use a towel to safely and effectively stretch the hamstrings. Brett Sears, PT, 2012

The hamstring muscle group is a large group of muscles that run from your buttocks to just past your knees. Tightness in this muscle group may lead to hamstring strains during athletic competition. Tight hamstrings may also prevent you from taking long strides while walking and may contribute to a tight feeling in your low back.

Using a towel to stretch your hamstrings is a great way to improve flexibility in this muscle group. To do it, simply lie on your back and place a towel around your foot. Hold the ends of the towel, and use it to gently lift your leg up. Keep your knee straight, and hold the stretched position for 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch 3 times.

Bonus: Stretch your hammys in the standing position.

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The Quadriceps Towel Stretch

Use a towel to stretch the quads on the front of the thigh.
A towel can be used to help stretch the quadriceps muscle. Brett Sears, PT, 2012

The quadriceps muscles run down the front of your thighs from the front of your pelvis. They pass over your kneecap and attach to the front of your shin. This muscle group is responsible for straightening your knee joint. Tightness in the quadriceps may lead to knee pain or may also contribute to conditions like patellofemoral stress syndrome (PFSS) or iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBS).

To stretch your quads with a towel, simply lie face down, and wrap a towel around your ankle. Pull both ends up so your knee bends until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and then slowly release.

By improving the flexibility in your quadriceps, you may help prevent injury to this very important muscle group.

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Stretch Your Calf with a Towel

A towel can be used to stretch the Achilles tendon.
Use a towel wrapped around the ball of the foot to stretch the calf muscle. Brett Sears, PT, 2012

The calf muscles are located in the back of your lower leg and help to flex your foot. They attach at your heel bone as the Achilles tendon. Tightness in this muscle group can lead to Achilles tendonitis or foot pain, such as plantar fasciitis. By maintaining flexibility in this muscle, you may also prevent muscle strains or cramping of your lower legs.

To do the towel calf stretch, sit with your leg out in front of you and wrap a towel around your toes and the ball of your foot. Grab both ends of the towel and pull until a stretch is felt behind your lower leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.

Next up: the Towel Shoulder Rotator Cuff Stretch.

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The Towel Shoulder Rotator Cuff Stretch

Use a towel to bring the arm behind the back to stretch the shoulder.
A towel can be used to stretch the shoulder and rotator cuff tendons. Brett Sears, PT, 2012

The shoulder is a very important joint that has many muscular attachments. Tightness in the rotator cuff muscles or in the joint itself can be a cause of shoulder pain. A lack of flexibility in your shoulders can also limit your ability to raise your arms fully overhead and may contribute to a rounded shoulder posture.

A great way to stretch your shoulder is with the towel rotator cuff stretch. Simply sling a towel over your shoulder and grab the lower end behind your back with one hand. With the other hand, lift the towel up so the hand behind your back moves slowly up. You should feel a gentle stretch in your shoulder as you pull. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and then slowly release.

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The Towel Chest Stretch

Use a towel the help stretch the pectoralis muscles.
A towel can be used to help stretch the chest muscles. Brett Sears, PT, 2012

Try the towel chest stretch to keep your posture upright and to maintain flexibility in your chest muscles. Simply hold a towel behind your mid back and hold each end until a gentle stretch is felt in the front of your chest. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and then release.

The chest muscles, also known as the pectoralis group, attach from your breastbone to each shoulder. They help to squeeze your arms together, as if giving a big hug. Tightness in these muscles can cause a rounded shoulder posture, which may lead to neck pain, low back pain, or shoulder pain. Tightness here may also limit your ability to take a deep breath, which could contribute to breathing difficulties.

By taking a few minutes each day stretching with a strap or towel, you can improve your overall flexibility which can help you maintain full mobility and range of motion.

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