9 Stretches You Can’t Live Without
Stretching and Home Care Tips:
Let’s face it: our modern lifestyle is HORRIBLE at naturally meeting our bodies physical needs. We sit too much. We look down too much. We have our arms and shoulders in front of us too much. Our modern, technological lifestyle is wreaking HAVOC on us physically.
Most back, neck, and shoulder pain can be directly associated with these bad postures or with not enough physical activity. Below I will show you a few very easy stretches and exercises to help alleviate the day to day stress our modern lives put on our back and neck.
Most activities we engage in these days tends to pull our neck and shoulders forward, in front of our chest and torso. This is referred to an anterior head and shoulder carriage.
Notice the position of this young man’s head as he’s working on the computer.
A simple, yet effective way to combat this is to place something cylindrical, like a rolled up towel, under the neck and lay back on it. The pressure from the towel will help push the neck back into its proper curve.
Another highly effective stretch is what’s referred to as an isometric stretch. This simply means a part of the body is stretched, then the muscles are contracted. There is no motion (which is the meaning of isometric) but while the muscles tense up in a static position, the tension is released. And quite effectively!
In the example to the left, bend the neck towards the shoulder slightly. With the hand on that side, grab the opposite side of the head and apply pressure. Push against the hand using the neck muscles with an equal force, so that the neck doesn’t move.
Hold for 15-20 seconds then repeat on the other side.
In the same method, place a hand on the back of your head and pull forwards slightly. Then push with the neck muscle to try and straighten the head back out.
Hold for 15-20 seconds.
Lastly, to stretch the front of the shoulders, stand in a doorway with your forearm vertically on the door frame. Make sure your elbow and shoulder are both at 90 degrees respectively. Step slowly through the doorway and feel the stretch in the front of the shoulder and chest.
Hold for 15-20 seconds then repeat on other side.
*Hint* For extra stretch, once stepped through doorway, slowly tilt head backwards and away from arm. Feel the stretch going through the side of the neck and under the collarbone.
Most adults at some point in their life will experience low back pain. It is the most common side effect of too much sitting. Tight hamstrings and weak gluteal muscles are all too often the culprits. I’ve found that most people get tremendous relief when stretching these main muscle groups in the lower spine: Hamstrings, Gluts/Piriformis, Lower Back, Flexors/Psoas.
There are a variety of methods to stretch the hamstrings, with the most common being bending forward to touch your toes while keeping the knees straight. However you can also place a foot up on a surface such as a bench and lean forward. You can do yoga poses such as downward facing dog. Or any number of other methods to loosen those muscles up.
Be sure to hold for about 15-20 seconds and repeat 3 times per side.
While lying on your back, cross one leg over the other. Pull the opposite knee towards your chest until you feel the desired stretch. Hold 15-20 seconds, repeat 3 times on each leg.
*Note* If this position hurts your knees you can try this stretch while seated.
Two of my favorite low back stretches are both yoga poses: Cat/Cow and Child’s Pose
Starting from hands and knees, arch your lower back and look straight ahead. Take a big breath in while doing this. Upon exhaling, round your back and push your tailbone up towards the sky while tucking your chin to your chest.
Repeat 10 times.
From the hands and knees position, sit back onto your heels. Allow your finger tips to extend as far in front of you as they can. Breathe deep and slow while feeling the stretch throughout the entire spine.
Hold for 10 seconds, repeat three times
The hip flexors, such as the Psoas muscles, are located deep within the abdomen and the pelvis and can be hard to get to, while others, such as the quadriceps, are more on the surface and a little easier to access. A great method for stretching these muscles is the lunge. Kneel with one foot out in front of you, knee bent at a 90 degree angle. Slowly bend the front knee so you move forwards. Try rocking your hips into the stretch, or side to side in order to isolate the muscles that are particularly tight.
Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat 3 times per side.
There are a TON of other stretches and exercises that can be of help based on your particular condition, but these will give you a huge head start in getting the relief you desire. Remember, do these every day, three time a day for maximum effectiveness. Progress doesn’t happen overnight!
You can always schedule a time to come in for an in person demonstration at no charge. Call or email anytime!