Regularly stretching the muscles in your upper arms will ensure that you maintain a healthy range of motion around your elbow and shoulder joint. The American Council on Exercise notes that stretching not only increases range of motion, but it also can assist with muscle tension and soreness and reduce the risk of injury. You can improve flexibility of the biceps and triceps, located at the front and back of the upper arm, respectively, with a pair of stretching exercises.
To see significant improvements, do your upper arm stretching routine at least once a day. Before you begin, perform five to 10 minutes of light aerobics to increase your blood flow and body temperature. Swing your arms in circles and across your body. When your muscles are warm, you’ll be able to stretch further, thus improving the session’s effectiveness. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, as recommended by the American Council on Exercise. Avoid bouncing when stretching.
The overhead triceps stretch effectively targets the triceps. Stand and lift one of your arms overhead, bending your elbow so that your hand is positioned behind your head. Reach up with the hand of your opposite arm and place it onto your elbow. Press your elbow down behind your head. Once you feel a stretch at the back of your arms, hold that position. Switch sides once you’re finished.
The biceps are somewhat difficult to target, but you can stretch them with the standing biceps stretch. Stand with your hands interlocked behind your back. With your elbows straight, rotate your shoulders so that your palms face the floor and then lift your arms up at the shoulders as far as you comfortably can. Hold this top position. You’ll likely feel at stretch up at your shoulders where the biceps originate.
Increase the intensity of your biceps and triceps stretches by recruiting a partner to help you perform proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, or PNF stretching. PNF stretching involves periods of contraction immediately followed by bouts of passive stretching. In both the PNF biceps and triceps stretches, you’ll sit on the floor with your partner kneeling behind you. To stretch your triceps, instead of you pulling your own arm back, your partner will place their hand on your elbow and stretch your triceps for 10 seconds. They will then hold your arm securely as you maximally contract your triceps, attempting to straighten your arm against their resistance. Contract your triceps for 10 seconds and then relax and have your partner stretch you again for another 10 seconds. For the biceps stretch, have your partner perform the PNF method of stretching and contracting while holding your wrists and stretching your arms upward and behind you.