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Home stretching exercises

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This is an introduction to stretching plus a full body routine.

Improve your flexibility with these moves so you can make everyday activities like bending, walking, standing, and working at your desk feel much easier.

How you can use this routine 

1) Relieve muscle tension anytime with a gentle stretch for the muscles that feel tight. 3-5 second stretches work well for relieving muscular tension. If desired, you can hold the stretch longer. Generally, there are no additional benefits to holding a stretch beyond 30 seconds.

2) Prepare your muscles for exercise by including this routine of home stretching exercises with a brisk walk and / or jogging in place as a warm up. Brief, 5 second stretches at a light to moderate intensity work best for warming up.

3) Maximize your flexibility by stretching right after any cardio or strengthening workout, when your tissue temperature is the highest.

Note:   During these exercises, start gently and gradually increase up to a moderate+ stretch intensity (at most). If you can’t wait until the stretch is over, back off a little bit–your stretch is too intense.  Hold your stretch 30 seconds at the most.

 #1  Upper Trap

Grab your L arm behind your back and gently pull it downward as you tilt your head to the right.  Repeat on the other side.

#2 Chest and side

Place both hands behind your head with your fingers interlocked. Sit upright and expand your chest. Point your elbows out–try to get them in line with your ears. Next, side tilt your neck and back to the L for a R side stretch, then tilt to the R for a L side stretch. Follow an even curve through the spine as shown, stretching both your neck and your sides. Maintain good posture (for all the home stretching exercises).  Hold 5 seconds.

#3  Triceps

Reach your L arm overhead with your elbow bent. Grab your L elbow with your R hand, and then gently push your L elbow back to stretch the back of your upper L arm. Hold 3-5 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.

#4  Forearm

Make a loose fist with your L hand and straighten your arm. Stretch your L hand toward the floor. Hold 3-5 seconds.

#5  Kneeling Biceps

Kneel about 12-18 inches in front of a sturdy chair or couch. (Place a folded towel under your knees) Reach both hands back to the chair with palms facing down. Activate your abdominals and lift your chest until you feel a stretch in both biceps muscles. You may also feel a good stretch for your abdominal muscles with this exercise. Hold 5 seconds, bend forward to release the stretch, and then repeat.

This routine of home stretching exercises is divided into 5 stretches for the upper body (above), and 5 for the lower body (below). The article on illustrated stretching exercises has 3 additional upper body stretches, and the article on back stretching exercises has 3 more lower body stretches.

#6  Knee to chest

Grab behind your R knee and pull your knee toward your chest. Keep your tailbone (and rear end) flat on the floor. Repeat 2-3 times and switch to the left side.