Stop being a howdedodat… Here’s how:
With the amount of time spent at a computer or in a car these days our bodies are being put in positions they are not meant to be in for long durations. Being in these positions for a long time leads to adaptive shortening of our muscles and connective tissue. Stretching daily will help overcome restrictions and tightness felt in the body, and will help you regain your normal range of function.
Here is a stretching routine that will only take about five minutes, and it will do you a world of good! You can do it as you wake up, as well as before you go to bed at night. Reverse the order when doing the routine before bed. See pictures for additional help with proper form.
- Piriformis stretch: Lying down face up with knees bent, place your right ankle on your left knee. Grasp behind your left thigh and bring it toward your chest. Hold when you feel a stretch in your right buttock muscles. Be sure your head and shoulders are relaxed. Repeat with other leg.
- Hamstring stretch: Lying down face up with your legs straight, bring one leg up toward your head and grasp it behind the knee or thigh. Straighten your leg as much as possible and hold when you feel tension along the back of your thigh. Be sure to relax your shoulders and neck. Repeat for other leg.
- Hollywoods: Sitting up with legs outstretched, place your right ankle on the outside of your left knee. Put your left elbow on the outside of your right knee, and twist your torso to tension. Be sure your neck and shoulders are relaxed. Repeat with other leg.
- Cervical stretch: While sitting up begin by trying to bring your right ear to your right shoulder. Use your right hand on top of your head to bring the stretch to tension. You should feel a stretch in the left neck and shoulder region. Repeat on the other side.
- Bruegger’s stretch: While sitting bring your chest up and tuck your chin. Be sure you are looking forward still. Bring your shoulder blades together with arms outstretched and as far behind you as you can. Be sure your palms are facing up. You should feel a stretch in your pectoral muscles, the back of your neck and between your shoulder blades.
- Hip flexor lunge: Standing up, place one foot in front of you. Be sure to bend the knee no more than 90 degrees. Place your other leg behind you as far as possible and be sure the heel is off the ground. Slowly begin to lean forward until you feel a stretch along the front of the thigh on the leg that is behind you. Be sure to keep your head and chest up, relaxed, and looking forward. Put your hands on your bent knee for support. Repeat for other leg.
Remember to hold stretches at tension for 30 seconds. This is the time needed for the muscle and tissue to relax and lengthen. Do not stretch into a painful range, this can cause injury. Hold the stretches where you start to feel the muscle tension (mild discomfort).