General Stretching Routine

General Stretching Routine

If you are interested in beginning a stretching routine- look no further!   Believe it or not- stretching really DOES make a difference to the way that your body feels and functions.  This basic routine will cover the main muscle groups in your body, and is a great starting point.

  •  The best time to stretch is when your muscles are warm- after a 5 minute brisk walk, or after your exercise routine.   Although it is preferable, it is not necessary that you warm up first.
  • Stretching should NEVER be painful- you should only feel a mild to moderate stretch in the area that you are targeting.  If you do experience any pain during or after a stretching exercise, stop immediately and seek the advice of a health professional.
  • Hold each stretch for around 30 seconds.
  • Stretches can be performed 1-2 times per day.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t stretch every day- even stretching once a week is better than nothing!

 

Thank you to www.sportsinjuryclinic.net for the images used in this blog post.

 

Chest Stretch:

chest

  • This stretch is pure gold- by far the stretch that we recommend most often in the clinic!  It is fabulous for people who spend a lot of time with their shoulders hunched forward (all of us)- at a computer, cooking, cleaning, driving, holding babies and children, gardening, the list goes on….
  • Stand in a doorway or next to a wall.
  • To stretch your right chest area, bend your right arm and place your forearm flat against the wall or doorframe.
  • Step your right foot forwards and gently bend your knee to feel a stretch in the chest and front or your shoulder.
  • Repeat with the left arm to stretch the left side of your chest.
  • Click here for a more detailed video.

 

Neck Side Flexion:

  • Standing or sitting up tall, look straight ahead- do not let your chin drop down.
  • To stretch your right neck and shoulder, gently move your left ear towards your left shoulder.
  • You can gently place left your hand on your head for extra support.
  • Do not let your right shoulder lift up.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in your right neck and upper shoulder area.
  • Repeat on the other side to stretch your left neck and upper shoulder area.

 

 Neck Flexion:

  • Begin by either standing or sitting up nice and tall.
  • Keep the elbows straight and rest your arms at your sides.
  • Bring your chin down towards your chest.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your neck and upper back.

 

Neck Rotation:

  • Begin by standing or sitting up tall with your arms at your sides.
  • To stretch your right upper shoulder and neck, turn your head towards looking over your left shoulder.
  • Try to keep your shoulders nice and square.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in your right upper shoulder and neck area.
  • Repeat on the other side to stretch your left upper shoulder and neck area.

 

Gluteal Stretch:

hip 1

  • Lie on the floor on your back.
  • To stretch your left gluteal (bottom) area, bend your left knee and gently hug it to your chest.
  • to increase the stretch, you can gently bring your left knee towards your right shoulder (as illustrated in the picture).
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in your left gluteal (bottom) area.
  • Repeat with the right leg to stretch your right gluteal area.

 

Lower Back Rotation:

lumbar rotation

  • Avoid this stretch if you have a history of lower back injury or disc problems.
  • If not- lie on the floor on your back.
  • To stretch the right lower back and gluteal area, cross your right foot over the left knee, keeping the right knee bent.
  • Use your left hand to gently pull the right knee across your body, towards the floor.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in your lower back and gluteal area on the right side.
  • Repeat the exercise with the left knee bent to stretch the left side.

 

Piriformis Stretch:

piriformis

  • The piriformis muscle is a deep gluteal (bottom) muscle that plays a very important role.
  • To stretch your left piriformis muscle, lie on the floor on your back and cross the left ankle over the right knee.
  • Grip the thigh of your right leg and hug it towards your chest, so your right foot lifts off the floor.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in the left gluteal area.
  • Repeat on the other side to stretch the right piriformis muscle.

 

Adductor Stretch:

adductor

  • Stand up tall with your feet wide apart and knees straight.
  • To stretch the right adductor (inner thigh) muscles, gently bend the left knee, keeping your right knee straight.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in the right inner thigh area.

 

Hip Flexor Stretch:

hip flexor

  • This stretch is so important, especially if you do a lot of sitting.
  • To stretch your left hip flexors (muscles in the front of your hip) kneel on the floor with your right leg in front.
  • Keeping your back up tall, gently bend your right knee to bring your pelvis forward.
  • Make sure that you keep your pelvis square and your back up tall.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in the front of your left hip and thigh.
  • Repeat with the left leg in front to stretch the right hip flexors.

 

Hamstring Stretch:

hamstring

  • To stretch your left hamstring, stand up with your left foot placed slightly in front of your right (as illustrated in the image above).
  • Gently bend the right knee and rest your weight on right right upper thigh.
  • Tilt the hips forwards as if sticking your bottom in the air.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in your left hamstring (back of the thigh) area.
  • To stretch the right hamstring, repeat with your right leg in front.

 

Calf Stretch:

calf stretch

  • To stretch your right calf muscles, stand with your left leg in front of the right close to a wall (as illustrated in the image above).
  • Keep the back heel flat on the floor.
  • Bend the front leg to lean forwards and keep the back leg straight.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your right calf area.
  • Repeat with the right leg in front to stretch the left calf muscles.

 

Deep Calf Muscle Stretch:

deep calf muscle stretch

  • There are deep calf muscles that can miss out in a regular calf stretch.
  • This stretch is similar to the calf stretch above, but you begin closer to the wall.
  • To stretch your right deep calf muscles, put your left leg in front.
  • Gently bend both knees.
  • It can be hard to feel a stretch on this one- you will most likely feel it closer down towards your ankle.
  • Repeat with the right leg in front to stretch the left deep calf muscles.

 

And there we have it!    I would love to hear your thoughts on how you feel after this routine.

Just a reminder:

  • Stretching should never be painful- you should only feel a mild to moderate stretch in the area that you are stretching.  If you do experience any pain during or after a stretching exercise, stop the exercise immediately and seek the advice of a health professional.
  • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Stretches can be performed 1-2 times per day.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t stretch every day- even stretching once a week is better than nothing!

 

Enjoy,

 

– Clare

 

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