When was the last time you gave your triceps a little love? These muscles on the backs of your arms are one of the areas of the body that often get forgotten (out of sight, out of mind, amirite?). But once you start to give them TLC by way of some stretches, you won’t ever want to skip this part of your routine.
Believe it or not, you use your tricep muscles pretty much constantly throughout the day, says Ellen Thompson, a NASM-certified trainer and head of physical therapy at Blink Fitness. The tricep muscles, which hang out behind your biceps on the back of your arm, engage whenever you reach for things — such as when you sling a bag over your shoulder or push doors open, she says. Because they’re constantly in use, they might start to feel stiff and sore.
This area might also be in need of a stretch after sleeping in an awkward position or following a tough arm workout, according to Thompson. Whatever the source of tension or aches may be, she notes that it’s a good idea to stretch this area on a regular basis to improve your range of motion, decrease your risk of injury, and reduce soreness.
Here’s why stretching these muscles is so important: When they get tight, the triceps start to pull on other areas of your body, like your shoulders and elbows where they’re anchored. “This pulling on the shoulder joint, especially, can restrict joint mobility and lead to discomfort and pain over time,” Thompson explains. Stretching them on a regular basis can prevent pesky issues like these from happening.
Of course, it also just feels really good to do a few stretches to loosen up a bit, especially if you’re feeling stiff. Here, experts share their go-to tricep stretches so you can give them a try.
Tunwattanapong, P. (2016). The effectiveness of a neck and shoulder stretching exercise program among office workers with neck pain: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Rehabil. doi: 10.1177/0269215515575747.
Ellen Thompson, NASM-certified trainer head of PT at Blink Fitness
Claire Larson, registered yoga teacher, nationally certified group fitness instructor
Mara Kimowitz, stretch expert, founder and creator of Pliability Stretch™ and StretchSource®
Samantha Deutchman, NASM-certified personal trainer, co-founder of Yoga Strong