Mid-week Stretching Those Muscles

Got up this morning after what I thought was a good night’s sleep only to find that my back hurt.  It was the old “I must have slept wrong” excuse.   Some mornings its my neck.  Whatever the reason I have found some great stretches for 8 different areas that might get tight and sore.  And there’s a BONUS involved!  If you do these stretches , it could possibly….wait for it……  prevent the stiffness/problems.

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So here we go.  Pick your favorite sore spot or use them all.

1. Neck

Upper Trap Stretch

Sit with a straight back and place right hand on right shoulder. Place left hand on right side of head and tilt head to the left, using just bodyweight (not pulling). Hold for 10 seconds then switch sides.

Chin Tucks

Sit up straight with back in neutral and tuck chin into chest.  Hold for 3 seconds.  Repeat 10 times.  For extra pressure, place two fingers on chin when you tuck.

2. Shoulders

If your shoulders are in a poor position (typically upward rotated, anteriorly tilted), then they will become tight.

Scapula Retractions

Stand tall and squeeze shoulder blades together as hard as you can. Hold for three seconds then release. Repeat 12 times.

Doorway Pec Stretch

Stand in doorway. Bend right elbow 90 degrees (palm facing front, fingers towards the sky) and place forearm on outside of doorway. Step forward with left foot and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your pec. Hold for 10 seconds then switch arms.

3. Back

Our backs control so much of our movement and are very delicate.  Our lats, glutes, and abs are all connected to our backs, which is why we need to keep our back strong and in use, but because almost every movement affects the back, it’s easy for people to hurt it with the slightest movement.

 Standing Extension

Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on hips, and slowly lean backward until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Hold for 3 seconds. Repeat 12 times.

Lower Trunk Rotation

Lie on your back, knees bent with feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Keep back flat and let both knees fall to right side. Hold for 10 seconds then repeat on opposite side.

4. Quads

If you’re not using the glutes, hamstrings, etc. properly, the quads take on the extra work, and because most folks don’t stretch properly, this leads to undue tightness and soreness. Not warming up properly and fatigue can also cause the quadriceps to cramp up.

 Heel-to-Butt Stretch

Stand tall and lift right leg behind you, bending at the knee. Catch right foot with right hand. Keeping right knee pointing down and both knees close, pull right heel into glutes. Hold for 10 seconds then switch legs. Hold onto a chair or couch with unused hand if you have trouble balancing.

Lying Heel-to-Butt Stretch

Lie facedown, legs stretched out behind you. Bend right knee and grab right foot with right hand, pulling heel towards glutes. Keep right knee parallel to ground, both knees together. Hold for 10 seconds then switch legs.

5.  Hamstrings

The hamstrings are very easy to pull and/or injure.  Your glutes work in tandem with your hamstrings and can overload your hamstrings if they’re weak.

Scissor Hamstring Stretch

Stand with feet together. Step your right foot back about two feet behind left, staggered, and bend forward from hip joint, keeping your back and both legs straight. Either keep hands on hips or place gently on shin. Hold for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Good Morning Stretch

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Interlace your hands behind your head. With a slight bend in knees, hinge at hips and bend forward, keeping back flat. Hold for 10 seconds then release. Repeat two more times. Stop if you feel your back start to round.

6. Calves

Your calf muscles tend to be one of the most worked muscle groups due to the constant nature of being on your feet all the time—walking, running, and standing.  Ever experience a charley horse? That and other spasms in the calf muscles are caused by magnesium, potassium and calcium  deficiencies as well as dehydration.

 Wall-Assisted Calf Stretch

Stand a little less than arm’s distance from wall. Keeping feet parallel, step right foot forward until toes touch wall in front of you. Bend your right knee and lean forward to place hands on wall while keeping back leg straight and pressing heel into the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.

Downward Dog

Start on all fours, hands stacked under shoulders, hips stacked directly over knees. Walk hands forward slightly on the floor until arms are straight. Spread your fingers apart to allow for a broad base of support. Engage abs and push hips up towards ceiling, coming onto your feet. Keep your heels on the ground and gently try and straighten your knees. Hold for 30 seconds.

7. Achilles/Ankle

While the Achilles is a small tendon, it’s not too fragile. The issue becomes that we overuse our  deep calf muscle and plantar fascia, putting the Achilles in a constant stretch

 Soleus Stretch

Standing with feet hip-width apart, step right foot forward about two feet and plant foot firmly on ground. Lift toes of right foot toward ceiling and dig heel into ground.

Planter Fascia Ball Stretch

Place tennis ball or lacrosse ball under right foot. Apply as much body weight as comfortable as you roll ball under bottom of foot. Roll for 30 seconds then switch feet.

8. Feet

Who knew such a small body part would have 20 muscles?  It’s easy to neglect our feet and strain them when we wear shoes that aren’t supportive, or overuse them in training.

Hero Pose

Kneel on floor then sit back onto legs. Open legs wide, pushing feet out to the sides and sit between heels, leaning back as far as possible. Hold for 30 seconds. If you don’t have the range of motion to lean back all the way, stay upright, keeping back straight. And place a mat or towel above calves if it’s too painful.

Upward Dog

Start in plank position. Keeping abs engaged, let hips drop towards floor as your chest opens up through your arms, and slowly place tops of each foot on floor. Press firmly into all ten toes and hold for 30 seconds.

 

Don’t you feel better already?????

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So you’ve made it half-way through the week.  Keep moving – pain free I hope.

 

Anne

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