Be Active

Stretching Exercises

Why you should stretch:

  • Relieve muscle tension, keep muscles flexible
  • Lengthen muscle, which will help lengthen your stride
  • Help prevent joint and muscles injuries

When: After a 5 to 10 minute warm-up or after you have finished your entire workout

The correct way to stretch:

  • Warm up first
  • Slow, easy, rhythmic movement
  • Deep breathing

Do NOT:

  • Bounce
  • Force a stretch
  • Hold painful stretches
  • Stretch injured muscles

To get started, try these 5 stretches:

To stretch the calf (Gastrocnemius) muscle:

Face a wall. Place one leg about 1 step-length behind the other.

Keep your back knee straight, while slowly bending your front knee, keeping your heels on the ground.

Make sure your rear foot is facing straight forward. Feel the stretch in your calf.

Hold for 20-30 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply. Release slowly.

Repeat 2- 3 times on each side.

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To stretch your Quadriceps (thigh) muscle:

Brace your self against a solid object with one hand.

Using your other hand, reach back and grasp your same side foot across the instep and slowly pull your foot towards your buttocks.

Keep your knees together. Stand tall and do not arch your back.

Hold for 20-30 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply. Release slowly.

Repeat 2- 3 times on each side.

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To stretch your Hamstring muscle:

NOTE: The hamstring muscles seem to play a key role in low back pain, as patients who have low back pain tend to have tight hamstrings, and patients with tight hamstrings tend to have low back pain. Stretching the hamstring muscles can help decrease the intensity of a patient's back pain and the frequency of recurrences. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing back pain of any sort before trying these exercises.

Source: Spine-Health.com; Exercise for Back Pain

Place one foot in front of you, heel down and toe up. Keep opposite knee slightly bent.

Put your hands on your hips and slowly bend forward from the hip, keeping your hips square and your spine straight.

Keep your front knee straight and feel the stretch in the back of the thigh.

Hold for 20-30 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply. Release slowly.

Repeat 2- 3 times on each side.

DO NOT bend forward from the waist, bending your back as shown in the example here.

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Stretching your Iliotibail band: (Muscle that runs along the outer hip, thigh and knee)

Place the leg you wish to stretch behind your other leg.

Square your hips and slide the opposite arm along the leg, toward the floor, until a stretch is felt in the hip.

Hold for 20-30 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply. Release slowly.

Repeat 2- 3 times on each side.

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To stretch your Gluteal muscles - or buttocks:

Lie on your back, feet on floor, knees in the air.

Cross one leg over the opposite knee.

Grasp knees and pull them straight towards your chest.

Hold for 20-30 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply. Release slowly.

Repeat 2- 3 times on each side.

To stretch the outer gluteal muscles, pull knee toward the opposite shoulder.

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Source: Pierre Poltoratszky, P.T., C.R.T., C.L.T. , The Med ; Holladay, UT

 

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