This is a hamstring stretch. You’re going to start with your heel on the corner of a wall or door frame and with your back flat and core engaged and the opposite knee and leg straight. Now with the toes off, you’re going to slide the heel up on the corner of the wall or door frame, keeping the other knee straight as well, with the core engaged hold for 30 seconds, do three sets.
Kneel down onto your left knee. Then rotate it about 45 degrees past the midline of your body. To keep your posture nice and tall imagine there’s a string pulling your whole spine upwards from your pelvis, right up your entire back and neck and up to the top of your head. Then engage your inner core muscles tight below your belly button and keep your low back flat. Next, bend the right knee forward and keep your posture nice and tall without leaning backwards. Then reach your left arm up pointing the fingers towards the ceiling nice and high and point your right finger tips to the floor. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for each side. This stretch can help with hip, low back or sacroiliac joint pain and dysfunction. If you experience pain and continue having problems then consult your Physiotherapist.
This is a prayer stretch which targets the Latissimus Dorsi muscle. You’re going to start by flexing the back upwards into an upward arch and the knees wide apart, then you’re going to bring the left hand, palm up, interlace the fingers and the elbows are off of the mat, head up and the chin in. And you’re going to bring the buttocks down and you’re going to pull the arms forward with the elbows staying off. And you want to make sure that as you reach forward you’re bringing your butt back and you’re going to begin to lean a little bit more over to the left side as you’re stretching the left Latissimus Dorsi and making sure that you’re not tilting that right shoulder up and you want to keep leaning more into that left side. Keeping the shoulders level, hold this stretch for 30 seconds and three sets on each side, if you’re tight on both sides.
Ever feel sore from a workout that you did the previous day or from sleeping in an odd position all night? Try out these quick and simple stretches in bed when you wake up in the morning!
Lie on your back with your legs together. Extend both of your arms overhead. Lengthen your spine by stretching your arms as far overhead and your legs stretched as far downwards as you can. Hold for 30 seconds or more.
Lie on your back with your right leg extended straight down. Bend the left leg at the knee and cross your knee to the other side of your body. Open your left arm to the side and turn your head to the left side. Hold for 30 seconds or more, then repeat on the other side.
Lie on your back with one leg extended straight down. Hold the back of your thigh or your knee and bring the other leg extended upwards towards your chest. Bring the leg close to your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch through your hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds or more, then repeat on the other side.
Begin with your knees and feet together. Then sit back on your heels and extend both arms overhead placing your palms onto your bed. Take a deep breath in and press your belly against your thighs. Hold for 30 seconds or more. Variation: Walk your fingers over to the top right corner of your bed as far as you can reach to stretch the left side of your body. Then repeat on the other side.
Begin by the side of your bed with both feet planted on the floor and your palms placed shoulder-width apart near the middle of the bed behind your body. Press your heels into the floor and your hands into the bed to lift your hips upwards towards the ceiling to form a straight line between the top of your head and to your knees. Hold for a couple of seconds, then slowly bring your hips back down to the starting position. Repeat 5 or 6 times.
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Flexibility is the ability to move a joint through its complete range of motion and is important in carrying out daily activities and in athletic performance. Maintaining flexibility of all joints produce efficient movement and reduces risk of injury. It can be improved in all age groups by regularly engaging in exercises targeting different joints. Joint capsule stiffness, muscle viscosity, ligament and tendon compliance all affect flexibility. Therefore, adequate warm-up and proper stretching is essential in optimizing joint range of motion. Chronic conditions such as lower back pain may arise if an individual has poor lower back and hip flexibility, in conjunction with weak abdominal muscles.
Flexibility exercises are most effective through warm-up exercises or passively through moist heat packs or hot baths to increase the muscle temperature. An effective warm-up is typically 5 to 10 minutes long, but may be longer for older adults or individuals with health conditions. Watch the video below, led by InSync Physio’s Claire McDonald, on how to do a comprehensive warm-up targeting all of the major muscles:
Strength and aerobic capacity decline with age. We can’t deny it but we know that if we continue to exercise we can slow the decline. Perhaps less talked about, but equally important to us swimmers, is that our flexibility also decreases as we age. This is due to an increase in something called a cross bridge, which are additional links between the collagen fibres at shorter intervals along the length. As a result the collagen in our connective tissue stiffens up. This in turn reduces the available stretch in the fibres.
Fortunately, like strength, flexibility can also be maintained through the right exercise routine. As with many things to do with the human body and mind it’s a case of use it or lose it.
In fact, things you already do to maintain your strength and aerobic capacity – such as swimming – will also help you maintain flexibility, but there’s more you can do:
Finally, don’t panic that you might have left it too late. Flexibility is actually quite easy to gain and maintain. We often hear people saying that they are simply inflexible and despite stretching they can’t develop muscle length. However it’s always possible to improve your flexibility and it just needs commitment to regular stretching over a long period. It’s true that some are physiologically going to be more flexible than others; however, everyone can improve with a little dedication.
If you run, bike, are desk-bound all day, or have been sitting in a car or plane traveling, your hamstrings could use some extra love and length. It not only feels good to stretch this commonly tight area, but hamstring flexibility is also important for the health of your back, hips, and knees. Here are six easy and essential stretches that target the backs of your legs. To avoid injury, it’s best to do them at the end of a workout, when the muscles are warm.
This stretch is good for your hamstrings and also loosens tight shoulders.
Easy to do anywhere and safe for injured backs, this hamstring stretch is great if you’re really tight.
If the previous stretch isn’t deep enough for you, then try this variation. It’s perfect for doing on a bench after a run in the park.
This basic stretch is perfect for targeting one leg at a time, and is great for those with really tight hamstrings.
This stretch targets both hamstrings as well as the lower back.
Here’s a relaxing way to stretch one hamstring at a time.
The piriformis muscle is one of the most irritated spots on a human body. It attaches to the outside of each hip and to your sacrum, the spine’s lowest section. Its job is to turn your leg outward. The major issue for many people is that the sciatic nerve runs through or under the piriformis muscle. If your piriformis is too tight, it can lead to pinching and sciatica-like symptoms in the affected leg. When the piriformis irritates the sciatic nerve, it leads to pain in the buttocks as well as referring pain along the sciatic nerve felt down the back of your thigh or in the lower back.
Stretch the piriformis. This is the first step in releasing the muscle. Lie on your back. If you need to release the muscle on your right side, bend your right knee, bring it across your body, and point the knee toward your left shoulder. Move the bent knee back to the starting position. Put your hands under your bent knee and bring it to your chest. You will feel a stretch in your buttock region–stretching the piriformis. Use progressive piriformis stretching. Start with five seconds, and gradually work up to 60 seconds of sustained stretch. Repeat several times throughout the day. If your pain is on the left, utilize the same procedure on the left side of the body.
Take a tennis ball, place it under your piriformis and lay on it. This will work out a trigger point, or a knot within the muscle. Lay on the ball for 30 seconds. Relax for one minute. Repeat the process four to five times.
Utilize a foam roller. This also can work out a trigger point. If you need to release the piriformis on the left side, start by lying on your left side and placing your left elbow on the mat or floor. This will stabilize your upper body. Place the foam roller beneath the back side of your left hip, under your piriformis. Roll back and forth to release the tension in the muscle. Do the same thing on the right side if that is where you are experiencing pain.
Treat other biomechanical problems simultaneously for best results and to prevent future problems. For example, overpronation of the foot can contribute to the problem. Pronation happens as the foot rolls inward and the arch of the foot flattens. Leg-length discrepancies also are commonly associated with piriformis problems, and can be corrected with use of orthotics. Prescription orthotics can be obtained by visiting a chiropractor and undergoing a gait analysis. Stretching may need to be combined with physical therapy for issues like overpronation.
Keep hydrated and take extra vitamin C, calcium and magnesium to promote tissue healing.
The calves are one of the most overused and overlooked muscles in the body, and if you wear heels, run regularly, or both, stretching your calves is a must, since tight, shortened calves can lead to injury. These five calf stretches can be done almost anywhere, so click through to learn how to do them and then add these stretches to your daily routine!
Wall Calf Stretch
This is a classic calf stretch that you can do just about anywhere.
- Stand a little less than arm’s distance from the wall.
- Step your left leg forward and your right leg back, keeping your feet parallel.
- Bend your left knee and press through your right heel.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs.
Wall or Curb Stretch
This is one of the easiest stretches to do as soon as you finish a run. If you have weak Achilles tendons, do the variation using a wall instead of a ledge.
- Find a wall and stand a few inches away. With one foot, put your toes on the wall, keeping your heel on the floor, and flex.
- Hold for about 10-15 seconds, then alternate with your other foot.
- You can also do this stretch using a curb or step and hanging your heels off the ledge.
Seated Calf Stretch
This is a simple way to stretch your calves while sitting.
- Sit comfortably on the floor. If the backs of your legs are really tight and you find yourself slumping, sit on a pillow so you can keep your spine straight.
- Fold your right leg in and reach your left leg long.
- Wrap a yoga strap or Theraband (or an old tie or belt from your bathrobe) around the ball of your left foot.
- Use the strap to pull your toes toward your head.
- Do not jam your knee into the floor and keep your left heel on the ground.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat of the other side.
Downward Facing Dog
This basic yoga pose is a great calf stretch.
- Begin in a plank pose with your hands under your shoulders then lift your pelvis up making a “V” with your body. Spread your fingers wide.
- Work on bringing your heels toward the ground.
- Allow your heels to flare out slightly wider than your toes.
- Reach your sits bones, on the bottom of your pelvis, high to the ceiling to increase the stretch.
- To deepen the stretch in your calves, try treading lightly by pressing down on one foot while bending your other leg (as shown). Hold a few seconds per leg and then switch.
- Hold or alternate your feet for a total of 30 seconds.
- You can increase your stretch even more by lifting up one leg into Three-Legged Dog.
Calf and Shoulder Stretch at the Wall
This stretch is a great multitasking stretch that opens the shoulders as well as the calves.
- Stand in front of a wall with your feet together. Place your hands on the wall shoulder-width apart.
- Rock your weight back on your heels without locking your knees, so your toes get pulled off the ground. Reach your bum out as far as you can by lengthening through your spine. Tuck your chin to feel a deep stretch in the back of your neck.
- Stay here for thirty seconds and then shift your weight forward, placing your toes back on the ground.
When you spend the majority of your time with your arms in front of you, it becomes habit for your body to round the shoulders. As a result, the muscles in the upper back and neck strain, overstretch and overwork. The chest muscles shorten, the small muscles between the shoulder blades weaken and the back muscles stretch and lengthen. Smaller muscles that are not designed to be postural muscles have to work doing a job they were not designed to do.
And all this poor posture can have a tremendous impact on our health. Poor posture causes all sorts of muscle and ligament imbalances which can lead to chronic back, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, fatigue, difficulty breathing and other more devastating health problems. If you are having pain, it’s important to see a physical therapist and/or a chiropractor who can help your muscle imbalances and align your spine properly.
When your body is aligned it means that your heels, knees, pelvis, and neck are directly stacked on top of each. Your body will not only be able to move so much more efficiently, but you will be able to carry heavier loads, tire less easily, have better digestion and will be less susceptible to injury.
These stretches, yoga poses and exercises are very important to work into your regular training program for improved posture and to combat rounded shoulders. If you sit at a desk or have your arms out in front of you for a large portion of the day (driving, texting, typing, etc.), it’s extra important that you do these as often as you can.
The first 3 can be done sitting on a chair, standing, kneeling, or sitting on the floor. These are great stretches for someone with a desk or office job and can be done (and highly recommended) anytime throughout the day.
Back Bound Hand Pose
Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together and bring both arms and hands behind you. Grab the right elbow with the left hand and then grab the left elbow with your right hand. If this is too hard, grab your wrist or forearm with the opposite hand. Take a few deep breaths. Lift your chest and keep your shoulder blades down and back. Now repeat by grabbing your left elbow with your right hand this time.
Bring your shoulder blades down and back and clasp your hands behind you. Slowly lift your arms as far as you are comfortable as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. I like to pretend there is an orange in between my shoulders and I am trying to squeeze the juice out of it by my shoulders. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles as you are doing this stretch.
Cow Face Pose
Place the back of your left hand on your lower back and slide it up as far as it will comfortably go. Now stretch your right arm up and bend your elbow reaching behind you to grab your left hand. This is difficult, so if you can’t do it, do not worry. Just go as far as you comfortably can and over time you will get better and better. Remember to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders down and back. Hold for a few breath cycles (30 seconds or so) and then repeat sides.
These 3 yoga poses below are excellent for expanding and stretching the chest, strengthening and reducing tightness of the shoulders, releasing tension in the back, all which will give you excellent results for rounded shoulders and better posture.
Baby Cobra Pose
Lie on your stomach with your hand directly beside your shoulders. Inhale and slowly press yourself up, keeping your elbows bent. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and then come back down.
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath and raise your hips off the floor as high as you are comfortable going. Now draw your shoulders down and back and clasp your hands together if possible. Try to reach them as far to your feet as possible. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and lower your body gently to the floor.
Kneel on the floor with your back to a chair. Keep your feet hip width apart and grasp the chair with your hands. Now push your pelvis forward and lift your chest to the sky. Breathe deeply as you keep pushing your shoulder blades back and down and keep lifting your chest as far as you can comfortably go. Hold this pose for a few breath cycles.