In the market for stretching machines and tools? You’re in greatest luck because here we’ll walk you through all major types of stretching equipment on the market. My husband, who’s a professional capoeira teacher and a certified fitness instructor, will help us through searching and discovering the best available machines that the sports market has to offer. He’ll share his expert opinion on some of the best devices and tools, share his fitness tips for achieving better flexibility, and more! Hop on to discover the hidden treasures of stretching equipment, namely the TOP 13 Best Stretching Machines of 2019!

As an amateurish fan of yoga, where stretching plays a key role, I know the challenges and the demanding nature of stretching exercises. Especially if you’re a newbie, the feeling of stiff and tight muscles can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there are many tools and devices on the market that can help you relax and stretch muscles more quickly. However, everyone knows that the path to success lies in hard work and consistency, even if you use special equipment. So do not expect results in a few days, and don’t be discouraged, if flexibility doesn’t come in a heartbeat. Take your time, work hard, and flexibility will follow.

What is a stretching machine and how it works?

A stretching machine is a type of special sports equipment that is used to improve elasticity and adaptability of muscles by stretching and relaxing them more quickly. How the machine works depends exactly on what type of it is used during a workout. But all of them aim to do the same: extend muscles into a state of flexibility.

Types of stretching machines

There are different types of stretching machines available on the market, but they can be roughly divided into the four main categories.

As for the prices, they vary greatly but, usually, the heavy-duty machines are priced above 100 dollars, straps and bands cost approximately 9-15 dollars, and portable devices generally fall in-between 30 and 70 dollars.

Further below we’ll review the main types of stretching machines and name some of the best representatives, but you can learn more about each in our review of the TOP 13 Best Stretching Machine.

Stretching machines for the whole body

Stretching machines for the whole body: photo

Stretchers for the whole body target major muscle groups, including hamstrings, hips, back, and arms. These are usually advanced machines for broader areas of the body that allow effective stretch while working on improving posture, reducing back and joint pain, as well as enhancing and developing better muscle flexibility. An example of such a machine would be the Motive Fitness TotalStretch.

Stretching machine for back 

Stretching machine for back Goplus: photo

Arched Stretching machine for back: photo

The next type is the machines that specifically target upper and lower back areas. They can come with various other accouterments such as heating and vibration massages, like in the case of Goplus Heavy Duty Machine. Or look like pullup towers, somewhat extended versions of door-frame pull-up bars, intended to help stretch the back by hanging on the top bar vertically with your full body weight. An example of this might be KT Multiple Lower Back Stretching Machine, which we’re going to cover in more detail moments later.

Stretching machine for legs

Stretching machine for legs EverStretch: photo Leg Stretch Machine Valor: photo

Then there are stretching machines for legs, which are absolute bestsellers, and come in various form factors, like straps, as in EverStretch, metal gear, as in Valor Fitness, or heavy duty steel pipes, as in E-Z Stretch. These are especially beneficial for those who’d like to work on the splits, and even if this is not your ultimate goal, you can still benefit from it by increasing the amount of stretch you’re capable of. The best part is that most of these devices allow you to improve the stretch by incremental increasing degrees, meaning you can baby-step toward success slowly and without pain.

Hamstring stretching machine

Hamstring stretching machine: photo

The hamstring machines are more specialized devices that target one area only: they aim at adjusting tension and isolating muscles you want to stretch. They just as well come in various form factors ranging from textile elastic straps (like OPTP Stretch-EZ) to simple metal tools (like IdeaStretch Hamstring Aid).

Benefits of stretching, according to science

Now, you’re probably familiar with the importance of a good stretch, otherwise, you won’t be looking at a stretching machine, will ya? But it’s imperative to outline the major benefits the proper stretching can bring to further seal that intention to invest in an effective stretching machine.

According to the website of the MIT Tae Kwon Do Club the proper stretching can:

  • Increase an ability to relax both mentally and physically
  • Increase body awareness
  • Enhance physical fitness
  • Prevent & reduce the risk of joint & muscle injuries
  • Reduce back pain
  • Reduce muscle soreness & tension
  • Increase blood circulation

However, in order to benefit from stretching, one must learn other fitness techniques to perform exercises in optimal sequence to prevent injury and overtraining.

Stretching as a warmup?

If you think that stretching is a warm-up to exercises, then you’re mistaken. Recent research has shown that stretching as the sole activity during warm-up should be avoided. My husband, who’s a certified fitness instructor, recommend that stretching should be added to your post-exercise routine or performed as a sole exercise without pretty much anything else. If you’re concerned about getting ready for a high-intensity training, then simple movements like high knees, squats, front and back kicks should be enough to increase the temperature in your muscle tissue to get them going.

Overall, the rule is this: do not attempt to stretch before your muscles are warm.

Are stretching machines effective?

Stretching machines have been around for quite a while already. An article from the 1999 issue of the New York Times featured the gaining popularity of stretching machines among enthusiastic consumers and professional gym owners alike. The reporters noticed that the increased demand was partly due to the release of the American College of Sports Medicine's 1998 exercise guidelines where the scientists recommended stretching at least twice a week to preserve flexibility.

I’ve checked the recent ACSM guidelines, and it’s still recommended to stretch at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion. It was also said that each stretch had to be held to the point of a slight discomfort (from 10 to 30 seconds), and never attempted without a prior warmup (light aerobic activity to warm up the muscles).

That same article from the NYT also featured brief opinion interviews with gym owners, one of whom said that the full body stretchers might not be very beneficial especially for those only starting out in fitness because machines tended to isolate muscles which wouldn’t have happened during a natural stretch.

However, an expert also said that the smaller stretching devices that were intended to stretch a particular muscle, like an ankle or feet, were still the most efficient and powerful and would be around forever because these areas were difficult to stretch without any equipment.

The experts from the American Council on Exercise, while not recommending any specific stretching machine or device, comment on the effectiveness of added force by an external factor (like partner, tool, machine, etc) to increase the intensity of static stretching.

According to the study published in Frontiers in Psychology back in 2015 that compared the intensity and effectiveness of stretching exercises when performed alone and supported by either a therapist or a machine, found that participants of the research, who were assisted during trainings, had better success in the outcomes of the exercises. Those, who received the help of a therapist or used a machine, had a more stable and controlled environment, allowing participants to relax during the intervention. However, very intense stretch, didn’t matter how it was performed, was deemed unfavorable, because it caused inflammation.

My husband says that the challenges in using the machines lie in the adequacy and intelligence of their users. They have to be prepared to use the machine properly and should receive adequate training before attempting to perform any exercises in a home-based environment. Thus, it’s important to seek the help of a professional to learn how to use the tools and devices effectively, thus minimizing the risks of injuries.

TOP 13 Best Stretching Machines

Further discussion elaborates on the best representatives of major types of stretching machines, namely those intended for upper and lower back, legs, and hamstrings. By the end of the article, we’ll also look into a neck stretching pillow in case you might be interested.

If prices are concerned, then standard bulky machines are all over 100 dollars, simple straps and bands will cost you around 10 dollars, and everything in-between (portable stretching devices, stretching pipes, and door-frame pull-up bars) can fall into 30-70 dollar price range.

My personal TOP-6 stretching devices

The following devices in the TOP have all been checked and tested by my husband, a fitness instructor. And while he mostly shared his personal opinion, we’re confident you’ll find his tips and comments very useful. If you don’t have time to review all of the 13 devices on our list, then you may just check what items have made it to our personal TOP 6 list of stretching gadgets, which we use ourselves and recommend to our friends. Click on each for my detailed review:

  1. Simple & portable stretching pad for the back (beginner/elderly): Arched Back Stretcher from Chisoft
  2. For ballet & dance (intermediate/advanced): EverStretch Leg Stretcher
  3. Standard bulky stretching machine (beginner/intermediate): Valor Fitness Leg Stretcher
  4. Portable stretcher for legs (beginner/intermediate): Want Do Split from E-Z Stretch
  5. For all types of physical training, resistance bands (beginner/intermediate/advanced): Limm Exercise Loops
  6. For yoga (beginner/intermediate/advanced): Clever Yoga Strap

Stretching machine for back

Inversion Table Back Stretching Machine w/Vibration Massage and Heat Comfort | Goplus

Inversion Table Back Stretching Machine: photo

This heavy-duty inversion table has a removable heat pad with vibration massager, which you can use wherever you want: bed, sofa, chair, etc. Or just use it while you stretch on a machine. The comforting heat and vibrations will help you relax and relieve the stress off your back.

There’s a comfortable and adjustable ankle support system with four adjustable oversized high-density foam leg rollers that would secure your ankles to keep them in place while stretching. With two pivot arm on both sides of a table, you can fully control the table’s movements. The table’s structure is completely adjustable and is able to incorporate practically all weights and sizes. Besides, the device can be folded up for easy storage and transportation.

Customers apparently had varying degrees of success with this stretching table, but there are not many reviews to date to make a solid recommendation. From what customers say, though, it’s pretty obvious the device works as advertised.

What does the fitness instructor say? However, my husband was less enthusiastic about this particular device, saying the machine looked too bulky for the small number of necessary functions it provided. The back, he says, can be stretched at home without any particular devices such as these. And if the device is to be used by people with disabilities, they might have difficulty controlling such a structure.

But what about doctors and scientists? Do they believe in inversion therapy? Researchers from the Harvard Medical School say the claims that manufacturers of inversion tables make are unsubstantiated and have never been confirmed by the science. Experts say that an inversion table is a form of spinal traction, which is able to provide short-term relief for back pain, but there’s no evidence to suggest long-term benefits. Also, inversion tables increase blood pressure, the pressure in the eye, and lower heart rate. So, generally, inversion therapy has too many cons. To learn more, please, read our guide on the Best inversion tables.

Goplus: Check the current price

Multipull Lower Back Stretching Machine Device | KT

Multipull Lower Back Stretching Machine: photo

This stretching device might look a bit weird and bulky, but it’s also pretty versatile and can be used for an array of stretching exercises. The Multipull seems easy to assemble and adjust, so if you’re not technically inclined, it should not be that big of a deal to set it up. The seller claims the machine is pretty sturdy and is made of high-strength alloy steel. It’s also able to bear and withstand pretty much any weight and size. Besides, it seems easy to add any other accessories to it, such as aerial yoga hammock, swing chair for kids, TRX straps, foam handle grips, etc.

The idea behind this thing is primarily stretching your back under the force of your own weight. It looks like an extension of a regular door pull-up bar, except you won’t have to harm your door frame.

KT: Check the current price

The Ultimate Back Stretcher / Lumbar Traction | Sit and Decompress

Ultimate Back Stretcher / Lumbar Traction: photo

This spinal decompression machine also looks like an attachment to a doorframe pull-up bar. The seller claims that their research shows a 20-25% increase in disc space on an x-ray while using the device. Decompressing the spine means taking pressure off of the spine and the injured tissue and providing healing and alleviation of a chronic pain.

To get an idea of how to use the device and what it can do to your back, please, watch the following video, where the inventor of the Sit and Decompress, Dr. Joshua Dorsey offers a quick tutorial with tips: 

The customers said they indeed felt great relief after using the device, some used it for uneven hips, quadratus lumborum sprain, or disc herniations, among other conditions. The unimpressed consumers said it was not very comfortable to use, especially for females (due to the chest squeeze).

Sit and Decompress: Check the current price

Best Arched Back Stretcher: Lumbar Stretching Device + 2 Foam Cushion + Trigger Point Massage Ball | Chisoft

Arched Back Stretcher Chisoft: photo

The Chisoft device is inexpensive, portable, and lightweight, meaning it can be used virtually anywhere, on trips, at home or even at the office. This back stretcher looks very simple and unsophisticated, but in fact, it’s pretty powerful in its domain: it incorporates massage pressure points to improve blood circulation, comfy cushion for better comfort while stretching, and three adjustable arch angles for varying degrees of intensity. The fact that the device was recommended by Dr. Oz on his show adds more credibility to the device.

The customers were amazed that such a simple addition to their daily exercise routine allowed them to reap pretty solid results as early as a couple of weeks of continuous use. Many used it while sitting on a chair, thanks to a comfortable chair attachment. Others said you couldn’t get a better device for the money (approximately 30 dollars).

Chisoft: Check the current price

Stretching machine for legs

Leg Stretcher: Door Flexibility Trainer Portable Stretch Machine! | EverStretch

Door Flexibility Trainer Portable Stretch Machine: photo

This is a bestselling high-quality strap that’s often used in fitness and yoga classes by professional instructors. It’s essentially a 9.8 ft long material with foam padding loops, and heavy-duty door anchor; all gift-wrapped in a handsomely packaged box with a breathable carrying bag and stretching manual inside.

The stretch band is ready to use virtually in seconds, put the door anchor over any sturdy doorpost, close the door, and pull the strap through the D-ring, that’s it, you’re ready to go. The EverStretch youtube video channel has a lot of different stretching exercises that you can repeat in the comfort of your own home: 

Amazingly enough, the product, although complicated for a non-professional as it may seem, received an ample number of positive responses from testers, praising the high-quality materials, detailed instructions, helpful video guides, and support, offered by the seller. Some consumers reported they’d seen results as early as a few days of using the strap. Although, as simple as it currently is, this product can be recommended without any compunction.

What does the fitness instructor say? My husband agrees that this thing is pretty cool, multifunctional and can target all major muscle groups if used properly. It’s also lightweight, compact, takes up very little space and can be set up almost anywhere. He thinks it’s best suited for people with at least basic physical training, and some dexterity, as it requires some knowledge. Overweight people and people with disabilities should consider other equipment or seek the help of a professional trainer.

EverStretch: Check the current price

Leg Stretch Machine | Valor Fitness

Leg Stretch Machine: photo

This is finally a classic leg stretching machine that comes with a heavy duty 12-gauge steel frame, which expands to over 180 degrees. Adjustable leg pad transitions to two different positions. The quality upholstery and foam pads will almost guarantee smoothly gentle and comfortable stretching. To get an idea of how it works, watch the following promotional video by Valor:

As for the price, it’s pretty standard for machines of this type and will cost you a little more than 100 dollars. The customers were pleased with how the machine worked. However, there were a few things they noticed, and you should probably do too: gears needed to be lubed (purchase a separate tube of grease), some had difficulty assembling the stuff, the wheel was not easy to twist and required some strength and stamina.

Valor Fitness: Check the current price

Want Do Split & Relieve Backache | E-Z Stretch Pro

Want Do Split & Relieve Backache: photo

These heavy-duty pipes offer up to 48 different stretch levels, are easy to assemble and carry around. There’s a high-density foam padding to protect your ankles during exercise, so there’s nothing to worry about in terms of unnecessary pain.

To get an idea of how this thing works and what it’s capable and not capable of, please, proceed with watching this video: 

There were a lot of positive reviews from consumers, quite a few of them were actually left by elderly, meaning this thing was pretty easy and intuitive to assemble and function and didn’t require any special knowledge or strength.

E-Z Stretch Pro: Check the current price

Resistance Bands Exercise Loops | Limm

Resistance Bands Exercise Loops: photo

These are not the machines, but I and my husband felt it was almost imperative for us to mention these resistance bands and a yoga strap, which we’ll talk about a little later in the guide. My husband uses these every day in his training and he stands by the effectiveness of these simple, but powerful bands.

The resistance bands we feature in this guide come from Limm and are made of 100% odor-free natural latex. They do have varying degrees of strength, so you can gradually and slowly increase the intensity of your workout.

These are so powerful, they can be used virtually for any muscle in your body: legs, ankles, hamstrings, back, hips, etc.

How to use resistance band: photo

They are lightweight, easy to carry around, and are super easy to figure out how to use, so you can perform any types of exercises in the comfort of your own home by watching videos or TV shows.

Straps are 12" long and can be, of course, stretched even further. Besides, for the price of around 10 dollars, you’re getting a set of 5 top quality exercise bands, a complimentary ‘Home Workouts’ eBook, printed manual, and a handy travel bag. We think it’s a pretty good deal!

This is a sample video of an exercise routine that could be accomplished with these loops:

Limm: Check the current price

Yoga Strap | Clever Yoga

Yoga Strap: photo

This is a sturdy, non-slip flexibility strap that’s essential to yoga and pilates practice, but can be used virtually in any other type of training. It’s made of thick and durable cotton that won't slip so you can try new exercises or yoga poses with more confidence. Suitable for both beginners and pros alike. You can also use it as part of a physical therapy to increase movement with support. It’s also available in different lengths, with 8 ft strap being the perfect length for basic poses, 10 ft for the taller yogis, or less flexible people or for those looking for some more advanced wrapping or poses. In any case, this strap is an absolute bestseller with virtually every other customer leaving high-fives and positive recommendations.

This is a sample video on using stretching straps for leg/hamstring workout:

Clever Yoga: Check the current price

Hamstring stretching machine

Proflex - Total Lower Body Leverage-Based Resistance Stretching Tool | DCT

Resistance Stretching Tool DCT: photo

This is a leveraged based hamstring stretch device that allows adjusting tension and is designed specifically for dynamic contraction technique, which helps to isolate muscles you want to stretch. The tool has a targeted specificity and isolates every muscle in the lower leg, ankle, and foot concentrically, and eccentrically. On the downside though, Proflex doesn’t come cheap and is priced above 100 dollars, which is a bit exorbitant, considering it only targets specific areas. Customers, who invested in the device, seemed to have at least some basic training experience, and some of them were professional athletes who used the tool for rehab.

The seller also included a link to some instructional exercises for the device for both beginner and intermediate levels.

DCT: Check the current price

Effective Hamstring Stretching Aid | IdealStretch

Effective Hamstring Stretching Aid: photo

The tool’s frame is made of light steel, but which looks pretty sturdy and durable. This hamstring and calf stretcher can also be used for back and knee. To use the device you have to lie on your back with your knee straight, thus eliminating the pressure off of your spine and maintaining proper hip orientation.

What does the fitness instructor say? My husband says the device is great for stretching the back of the thigh, lower leg and ankle. However, this thing might be interesting for those having a basic or maximum intermediate stretching level. For the rest, the tool would be superfluously unnecessary. Another possible use is for rehabilitation, in the case of knee injuries, for example.

IdealStretch: Check the current price

Stretch-EZ - Foot and Leg Stretcher for the treatment of plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, calf, thigh, hip, and low back strains and injuries | OPTP

Stretch-EZ - Foot and Leg Stretcher: photo

This foot and leg stretcher is suitable for the treatment of plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, calf, thigh, hip, and low back strains and injuries, even for users with reduced mobility. The stretcher is made of comfortable polylaminate with a cradle design that encompasses the foot allowing for a comfortable stretch. There are also multiple strap loops for better control. The stretcher targets the heel, Achilles tendon, hamstring, and quadriceps. This thing will cost you slightly more than 30 dollars, which is a little bit expensive for the functionality it offers. However, if you need it for rehab exercises, then it’s probably worth the investment.

OPTP: Check the current price

Neck stretching machine

Inflatable & Adjustable Neck Stretcher Collar Device + Eye Mask Bonus | DaviSMART

Inflatable & Adjustable Neck Stretcher Collar Device: photo

The last item on our list is a neck stretching pillow that looks like three standard neck pillows combined. The seller claims it corrects posture and helps alleviate neck pain. There’s also an eye mask and video instructions that are included as a bonus for the price. It doesn't require any assembly and is completely portable.

What does the fitness instructor say? My husband says the collar pulls out and stretches the neck as advertised, but is more often used for rehabilitation after injuries as prescribed by a physician or a physical therapist. The pillow restricts the mobility of the neck and head, is uncomfortable to wear and should not be used if not prescribed by the doctor.

DaviSMART: Check the current price

Tips & lifehacks from a fitness instructor

  • Stretch after exercise / at nonexercise times / or as a single complete exercise
  • If you, however, got used to stretching before exercise, make your stretching more dynamic to warm up the muscles (anything of moderate intensity for major muscle groups would work fine as a warm up)
  • If your goal is to improve or gain flexibility, practice static stretching, and hold each stretch from 30 to 90 seconds (at most)
  • Only stretch to the point of mild discomfort
  • The key is breathing. Learn to breathe properly, that way you can get through most of the stretching just by breathing
  • Include stretching in your daily routine
  • When in doubt, always seek the help of a professional trainer to avoid injury

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Great addition to your fitness gear if you’re only starting at stretching or would like to gain better flexibility
  • Allows you to perform better and achieve more by slowly increasing your ability to stretch
  • No need for a partner to help you stretch

Cons

  • Stretching can be done without any devices, really. All you need to have is a powerful will to succeed. And even if you think you’d like a help of strap, use anything, even a scarf or a tie will do
  • Some machines are so bulky, they would require an extra space for storage

Comparative chart of Stretching Machines & Devices

Product Features

Inversion Table Back Stretching Machine w/Vibration Massage and Heat Comfort | Goplus

Add-ons: removable heat and vibration massager pad
Ankle support w/ 4 leg rollers
2 pivot arms
Weight max capacity 300 lbs
Height max capacity from 58'' to 77''

Multipull Lower Back Stretching Machine Device | KT

Weight max capacity 485 lbs
Height max capacity less than 6.88ft

The Ultimate Back Stretcher / Lumbar Traction | Sit and Decompress

Capacity: 42-47 inch chest (large), other sizes are available
Weight capacity: 275 lbs

Best Arched Back Stretcher: Lumbar Stretching Device + 2 Foam Cushion + Trigger Point Massage Ball | Chisoft

Add-ons: chair attachment, 2 boards (acupressure and smooth)
Angles: 15, 35, 50 degrees
Weight capacity: 200 lbs

Leg Stretcher: Door Flexibility Trainer Portable Stretch Machine! | EverStretch

Add-ons: gift box, breathable carry bag, stretching guide, door anchor
Length: 9.8 ft cotton strap

Leg Stretch Machine | Valor Fitness

Add-ons: 12-gauge steel frame, a seat pad w/two-angled position
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
Stretch capacity: 180 degrees

Want Do Split & Relieve Backache | E-Z Stretch Pro

48 Stretch Levels
Steel casket brackets

Resistance Bands Exercise Loops | Limm

5 bands
Add-ons: ‘Home Workouts’ eBook, printed manual, and a handy travel bag
100% natural latex

Yoga Strap | Clever Yoga

100% cotton
8 or 10 ft
7 colors

Proflex - Total Lower Body Leverage-Based Resistance Stretching Tool | DCT

3 sizes
Dynamic contraction technique

Effective Hamstring Stretching Aid | IdealStretch

Light steel
With or without CD

Stretch-EZ - Foot and Leg Stretcher | OPTP

Polylaminate
Cradle design

Inflatable & Adjustable Neck Stretcher Collar Device + Eye Mask Bonus | DaviSMART

1pc Cervical Neck Traction Device
1pc Eye Mask
User Manual & access to Video Bonus

Cool & supercharging stretching videos without equipment

Stretching for beginners

Back stretching

Physical therapists talk on unlocking hamstrings

FAQ

If I have had surgery can I use a stretching machine?

If at least 6 months have passed since surgery, then ask your physician if you can use it.

If I have uneven hips will stretching with special equipment help my back?

Uneven hips are usually caused by a shorter leg. Stretching equipment will not lengthen your short leg, though, but it can, in fact, relief your back pain you are getting from it.

How long before I notice Improvement?

Usually it takes a good amount of practice and consistency. But if used on a daily basis, most people see improvements after the first week. 

Conclusion

Having discussed all major types of stretching machines, we’re confident enough to assume you’ll choose only the best available option that would suit your needs perfectly. With so much rapid advancement in technologies, these machines are going to be better and better with time. Besides, sports and stretching, in particular, are not going anywhere. Everyone wants to be healthy, and the key to being healthy is physical activity. Enjoy your training and happy stretching!