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Stretching can definitely benefit your physical fitness but it can be a challenge to do. What are some stretching equipment options that can help you?
Some of the benefits of stretching include that it can lead to better flexibility, better posture, can improve balance, reduce pina, reduce injury risk, and more.
Bodyweight stretching exercises can help a lot but sometimes you can get more stretching progress in a shorter amount of time with some of the stretching equipment options on this list. Some of these pieces of equipment also simply make your stretching sessions more comfortable.
Keep in mind that using these stretching equipment examples can offer benefits but like any exercise, there is always some risk of injury. You want to be careful when using these and if needed talk to an expert before.
1. Yoga mat
A yoga mat is a mat of soft material, often foam, that is used to make many floor exercises a lot more comfortable.
Many great stretching exercises take place on the ground so for these a yoga mat is definitely not an unnecessary luxury. The alternative is working out on the ground which is often painful.
Simple examples of floor stretches include a leg pull for your glutes, a side-lying quadriceps stretch, and a lying ab stretch.
One of the other benefits of a yoga mat is that you can use it in a wide variety of non-stretching exercises and workouts. It is also very inexpensive compared to the pain you can avoid from working out on the ground.
2. Stretch straps
Stretch straps are a type of sturdy cords, often with loops, that make stretching a lot easier. Especially for stretching body parts like your glutes, hamstrings, and calves, stretch straps can be helpful.
You can definitely also use stretch straps for stretching body parts like your back, shoulders, core, chest, etc.
On top of that, stretch straps are a relatively inexpensive piece of fitness equipment and they are extremely easy to store and take with you.
One potential downside is that quite a few of these stretch strap exercises take place on the floor. That means you will likely also want to invest in the yoga mat.
3. Foot rocker
Foot rockers are a type of half circles made to put a foot on. This makes them a helpful piece of stretching equipment for your calves and ankles.
One of the benefits of the foot rocker is that it is relatively budget-friendly. It is also very compact which means easy to store and easy to take with you.
A downside compared to something like a slant board, another piece of calf stretching equipment, is that it is easy to move your foot a lot while using it.
For stretching your calf muscle you want to put it under consistent pressure, not bounce back and forth. You can also do this with the foot rocker but it requires a bit more control and attention.
4. Yoga wheel
A yoga wheel is basically a big hollow wheel that can be used for stretching a variety of body parts and as the name implies in certain yoga exercises. You can use to stretch body parts like your back, abs, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, etc.
A benefit of yoga wheels is that due to their simplicity and sturdy material they can last a long time.
On the other hand, putting your back in a position like with big yoga wheels can cause negative consequences.
Especially if you already have a weak back, you may want to ask help from an expert before using a yoga wheel for this and other body parts.
Besides that the more standard size may not be great for you. In that case, you often need to get a three-piece set which requires a medium investment.
5. Leg stretcher
Leg stretchers are a stretching equipment option that in essence is two bars to place behind your legs and a way to bring these bars farther apart.
Leg stretchers offer you a more controlled way of stretching your groin compared to trying to do a standing split as far as you can. A downside is that this is again a relatively single-focus piece of equipment.
Another downside is that some leg stretchers require a relatively big investment compared to some of the other options. This piece of stretching equipment will also require slightly more storage space.
6. Foam roller
A foam roller is a piece of equipment that can be described as a cylindrical tube. Foam rolling is using this tube in a variety of exercises to do a form of self-massage.
One of the benefits of foam rolling is that it can help you improve flexibility with stretching exercises.
One small study even suggests that foam rolling may be more effective than static and dynamic stretching for acutely increasing flexibility of the quadriceps and hamstrings without hindering muscle strength (4).
One of the benefits of foam rollers is that they are relatively budget-friendly.
A potential downside is that you likely also want to invest in a yoga mat for many foam roller exercises. Certain exercises can also be slightly more challenging to get exactly right for a good stretching session.
7. Exercise ball
An exercise ball, also known as a stability or yoga ball, is a soft elastic ball. This piece of fitness equipment can help you stretch a wide variety of body parts.
One example is sitting in the position for an exercise ball back extension but instead of elevating your body, stretching your hamstrings and glutes.
A benefit of the exercise ball is that you can use it in a wide variety of exercises for a wide variety of body parts and fitness components. On top of that, an exercise ball is relatively budget-friendly.
8. Slant board
A slant board is a board you can put at a tilted angle. This piece of equipment is mainly used for stretching your calves but it can also help you strengthen your ankles to some extent.
You can use a slant board as a separate stretching session or place your feet on it while sitting down throughout the day.
One potential downside of slant boards is that they are only for calves and ankles. For stretching other body parts you will need other fitness equipment. Besides that, slant boards do require a slightly bigger investment compared to some of the previous options.
All in all, the slant board can be a good choice for specific body parts like your calves and ankles. If you are interested in stretching other body parts you will have to choose other options on this list.
9. Leg stretching cast
There is a tool called an IdealStretch which can be described as a leg stretching cast. This piece of stretching equipment is mainly useful to stretch body parts like your hamstrings and hip adductors.
A benefit of this device is that it is generally easier to use than stretch straps for training your hamstrings. It is a lot easier to keep your leg stretched and the band cannot slip off like with stretch straps.
A downside is that this leg stretching cast is a bit more expensive compared to certain other options that can also give you a good stretch. Especially since this device is focused on so few body parts.
10. Stretching machines
There is a category of stretching machines where you can hold a handle and sit on a moveable seat. This setup allows you to stretch a variety of body parts in a controlled motion.
Stretching machines can definitely help you do a variety of important stretches.
The main question is whether their potentially slightly higher effectiveness is worth the steep price. Especially since there are so many other inexpensive stretching equipment options that can already be relatively effective.
On top of that, stretching machines require a bit of storage space.
- Related: 13 Stretching Statistics And Facts