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7 Tricep Stretches to Loosen Your Arms | Benefits & More

It can feel really good to loosen up your arms and shoulders, so it only makes sense to include tricep stretches as part of your routine. 

When you think to stretch any upper body muscles, most people gravitate towards arm circles or chest openers and often neglect the triceps.

However, your triceps, which are located on the backside of your arm between your elbow and shoulder, are used at length when performing a wide range of workouts and tasks. 

In fact, the triceps is actually a very large muscle that makes up about two-thirds of your upper arm’s muscle mass! As a result, stretching triceps is not something you should skip or overlook when it comes to your flexibility program. 

Benefits of Stretching Triceps

benefits of stretching triceps

Stretching triceps have a lot of similar benefits to bicep stretches. After a workout that may include lifting weights, or bodyweight exercises like pushups and pullups, triceps stretches are a great addition to help prevent muscle soreness and maintain good range of motion in your upper body.

Maintaining good range of motion is not only beneficial to easing tightness in your triceps, but also in your shoulders and back, since your body’s kinetic chain utilizes all your upper body muscles when performing exercises such as pushes and pulls. 


As you are able to improve flexibility tricep stretches, you will help prevent injury and enhance circulation which will allow you to feel more freedom when you workout and when doing daily activities.

How to Stretch Triceps

how to stretch triceps

There are several different methods on how to stretch triceps. For example, stretching for tight triceps and sore triceps may mean a different stretch for each purpose. 


Also, since there are 3 heads, or areas, to the triceps (the medial, lateral, and long head) the best tricep stretches are determined by what head you want to target, as well as your intention. 

7. Overhead Triceps Stretch

The overhead triceps stretch is one of the most common triceps stretches. In fact, you are just as likely to see the overhead triceps stretch in a 5th grade P.E. class as you are your local gym! 

Here are the steps:

  • Standing straight up, extend your left arm straight into the air like you’re touching the sky/ceiling.
  • Keeping the elbow still, flex your left arm behind your head like you’re trying to scratch the back of your neck
  • After that, take your right hand and gently push on the left elbow to increase the intensity of the stretch.

The overhead triceps stretch is especially good for tight triceps because it puts your working shoulder into external rotation, giving your entire upper body a nice stretch. 

6. Horizontal Stretch

The horizontal stretch is one of the best tricep stretches that hits the lateral head, as well as stretching your shoulder. 

Here are the steps:

  • First, Bring your left arm horizontally across your chest and body.
  • After that, Slightly bend your elbow so your elbow is not in hyperextension
  • Next, Place the palm side of your right forearm on the backside of your left forearm, creating a T-shape
  • Now, use the strength of your right forearm to pull your left arm further horizontally across your body

The key to maximizing the horizontal stretch is using force from your non-working arm to produce tension into the working arm. This will make your horizontal stretch more efficient and give you that loose feeling you look for in a stretch. 

5. Towel Triceps Stretch

The towel triceps stretch is similar to the overhead triceps stretch but can provide a deeper stretch with the use of the towel. 

Here are the steps: 

  • Holding a towel in your left hand, extend your left arm straight into the air like you’re touching the sky/ceiling, just like the overhead triceps stretch.
  • Next, flex your left arm behind your head like you’re trying to scratch the back of your neck
  • At the same time, let your right arm hang down your right side body.
  • Then, reach your right hand for the towel that is draped on your back, 
  • Once you are able to grab the towel, pull the towel with your right hand to increase the intensity of the stretch in your triceps. 

The towel triceps stretch is multi-purpose, as it puts your top-side arm in external rotation, and your bottom-side arm in internal rotation, which makes this one of the most valuable bang for your tricep stretching exercises, and a great inclusion to your warmup poses for yoga.

4. Standing Bench Stretch

The standing bench stretch is one of the more functional triceps stretches, as it also hits the lat muscles, serratus muscle, and thoracic spine. 

Here are the steps:

  • Find a chest-high bench or other sturdy surface that can hold up your arm with bodyweight
  • Then, stand with a good base and your right foot in front of your left, facing towards the bench, and place your right elbow on top of the bench.
  • After that, place your right elbow on top of the bench and start to lower your body, hinging at your hips, until you feel a stretch in your armpit area.
  • If you are struggling to find tension in your triceps and lats, use the strength of your right arm to press into the bench and hold the tension as you hinge and lower your body.

Since many tricep stretches target areas closer to the elbow joint, the standing bench stretch primarily hits the tricep area that attaches at the shoulder, making this a great exercise to combine with other tricep stretches for soreness. 

3. Dynamic Triceps Warmup

Dynamic triceps warmup is especially helpful as a tricep warmup if you are engaging in high intensity activities that require fast twitch muscle activation, such as HIIT, tennis, or arm balances.


Here are the steps:

  • Extend your arms straight out to the sides and at shoulder height. Your arms should be parallel to the floor with your palms facing down.
  • When ready, make small to medium circles going clockwise with your arms, increasing speed as you go.
  • After you’ve done clockwise, switch to making circles going counterclockwise. 
  • Next, change your palm position and have your palms face upward and repeat.
  • Do the same movement with your palms facing backward, up, and down.

Each palm position initiates a different motion at your shoulder, which makes these tricep stretching exercises beneficial to protect your triceps from strain or injury. 

2. Triceps Extension

Triceps extension is great for mobility because it also can be used to build strength as well for certain exercises like partner yoga poses.

Here are the steps:

  • Start by holding a light dumbbell with both hands, wrapping both hands around the dumbbell handle, forming a triangle with your hands, and bringing the dumbbell overhead.
  • After you’re stable, brace your core and relax your shoulders. Your head and neck should be aligned with your spine.
  • Now that you’re prepared, press the dumbbell overhead, extending your elbows until your arms are straight. The dumbbell should be directly over your head and elbows extended, but not fully locked.
  • With control, slowly begin to bend your elbows to lower the dumbbell behind your head. 
  • Once your elbow is now fully flexed with the dumbbell behind your head, repeat the pressing action until fatigue. 

While this triceps extension may seem like only a strength based exercise due to the presence of the dumbbell, and may produce a sore triceps, the positioning of your hand/arm/elbow is similar to the overhead triceps stretch, making it a great flexibility exercise for the elbow and shoulder as well. 


1. Wrist Pull

Wrist pulls are a good supplemental stretch to help loosen up the forearm. If the forearms are too tight, it can put extra strain on the elbow and triceps, especially in certain poses like balancing table pose.


Here are the steps:

  • Stand and lift your right arm to chest height, and extend the arm straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor.
  • Next, extend your wrist so your fingertips are facing the sky, then use your left hand to gently pull your right fingers further backward to feel the stretch in your forearm.

Similar to how the shoulder can protect the elbow and triceps from one end of your arm, your wrist and forearm help protect your elbow and triceps from the other end, which makes the wrist pull a good addition to your triceps warmup. 

Why Stretch Triceps

Like any other muscle in your body, you can get tight triceps or sore triceps if overworked. And when you have a tight triceps or sore triceps, achieving a full range of motion will be difficult, which is the first reason why you should stretch your triceps. 

When you take a step back, many gym exercises and even household tasks require using the triceps with a pressing motion, so if you want to protect your elbow joint and shoulder joint, taking time to perform the best triceps stretches is key to avoid short-term soreness and long-term injury. 

Injuries to your triceps, elbow, and shoulder can be slow to heal, so incorporating tricep stretching exercises after exercise, as well as a tricep warmup before exercise, will keep you out of the doctor’s office and at peak performance. 

Stretches for triceps also help bring circulation and blood flow to the area following an intense workout, which can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and accelerate your recovery. If you are an athlete or weekend warrior, accelerating your recovery should be an integral part of your routine. 

So if you are wondering why you are spending time stretching your triceps, take solace in knowing that you are actively valuing the health of your upper body’s joints!


References:


Mikulski, Kerri. “3 Triceps Stretches to Complement Your Upper-Body Workouts.” 10 Jan 2020, Livestrong. https://www.livestrong.com/article/13781-3-ways-to-stretch-your-triceps/



Williams, David. “Tricep Stretch.” A Lean Life. https://www.aleanlife.com/tricep-stretch/