Cheat Sheet

Stretching For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Stretching For Dummies

By LaReine Chabut, Madeleine Lewis

There are so many little ways that improving your flexibility can help in your daily life. So, why not give stretching a try? Investing in a consistent stretching routine can help you maintain general health, avoid injury and reduce stress. Stretching can be as simple as touching your toes and can be done almost anywhere, at any time. So, no more worrying about when you will fit it into your work day.

Stretches to Start Your Day

Stretching is a good practice for your body. In addition, good stretching techniques can help you avoid injury and reduce stress. If you want to start your day out right, keep this handy list of stretches on your nightstand so you can practice them first thing in the morning.

  • Knees to chest: Bring both knees toward your chest, placing one hand under each knee for support. Breathe deeply and hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

  • Total body stretch: Lie on your back with your arms extended over your head. Inhale deeply and stretch your arms and legs as far as you can in opposite directions. As you exhale, release the stretch and relax your whole body. Repeat this exercise three or four times, each time trying to reach and stretch a little farther.

  • Spinal rotation: Lie on your back with your knees bent and place a pillow next to you. Bring both knees toward your chest, placing your hands under each knee for support. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower your legs to one side until they rest on the pillow. Try to keep your opposite shoulder blade and your head on the bed or a pillow, so you’re just hinging at the hips. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds, taking several deep breaths.

Stuck-in-Traffic or Sitting-at-Your-Desk Stretches

Stretching is a great way to help maintain general flexibility and keep up your with your health. If you sit all day or commute to work (who doesn’t do one of those things?!), here are a few stretches to help you work out the kinks:

  • Shoulder and neck stretch: Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor, your abdominals lifted, and your hands resting on your thighs. Slowly rotate your shoulders forward, up, back and down as if you were drawing a circle with your shoulders. Breathe deeply as you repeat this motion four to six times.

  • Seated chest stretch: Sit tall with both your feet flat on the floor and your back flat against the back of your chair. Clasp your hands together behind your head. Inhale and as you exhale, gently press your elbows back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your chin and chest toward the ceiling. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, then release back to starting position.

  • Wrist and forearm stretch: Sit up straight in your chair with the palm of one hand pressing against the fingers of the other hand. Point your fingers upward and keep your elbows lifting toward the ceiling. Inhale, and as you exhale, gently press the heel of your hand against your fingers. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Remedies for Sore Muscles

Stretching is an important part of keeping yourself healthy. But, what should you do about sore muscles? The next time you’re in pain, there are a few things you can do to speed your recovery along. The following list gives you a few suggestions for helping your sore muscles get back to feeling good again:

  • Apply an ice pack for 20 minutes to any area that is sore. Repeat this every hour until the pain subsides.

  • Stretch the sore area gently to help your body get rid of lactic acid, which helps contribute to the pain.

  • Be sure to walk 10 to 20 minutes at least once a day to increase circulation throughout your body. This helps deliver much-needed oxygen to your sore muscles.

  • Drink at least eight glasses of water daily to stay hydrated and help flush out the lactic acid in your sore muscles.

  • Avoid any strenuous activity as long as you’re in pain.

Top 5 Anywhere, Anytime Stretches

Stretching is a great way to maintain your health and reduce your stress levels. As with any type of exercise, it is always difficult to find time to work it into your day. Here’s some tips to help make stretching easier.

The following five stretches are great anywhere — they’re fun, easy to do, and amazingly effective!

  • Neck stretch: Find a sturdy chair that you can sit comfortably in and lightly grasp the base of the chair with your right hand. Slowly rotate your head to the left as you lean forward slightly. Hold this position, maintaining the light to medium stretch for at least one full minute. Repeat on the other side by simply reversing the instructions.

  • Chest stretch: Kneel on a carpeted floor or mat with your forearms crossed and resting on the seat of a sturdy chair. Inhale, and as you exhale, let your head and chest sink below the chair. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, breathing deeply to help you sink gradually deeper into the stretch.

  • Supported upper back stretch: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands on a sturdy surface for support. Walk your feet back far enough that you can extend your arms as you move your chest toward the floor. Exhale and press your chest toward the floor and your hips toward the ceiling so you have a slight arch in your back. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

  • Standing quad stretch: Stand up tall and place your right hand on a stable surface. Inhale and lift your left knee toward the sky and grab a hold of your left ankle with your left hand. Exhale and slowly lower your left knee, gently moving your left foot toward your left buttocks. To really feel this stretch correctly, try to tuck your pelvis under, thinking about your tailbone moving toward the floor. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

  • Standing calf stretch: Face a wall and stand one foot away with your feet together. Lean forward, place your hands on the wall in front of you, and move your right foot back as far as you can with your heel on the floor. Bend your left knee slightly, keeping your right knee straight. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, gently press your hips forward, keeping your right heel on the ground. Hold the stretch for several deep breaths and then slightly bend your right knee without lifting your heel off the floor.

4 Great Stretches to Alleviate Back Pain

One of the most common body ache complaints is a sore back. In addition to general health benefits, proper stretching can also help relieve back pain. Here are some great stretches to help ease that back pain and just make you feel better in general:

  • Standing pelvic tilts: Place your back against a wall and bend your knees so that you’re in a slight squat. Rest your hands on your thighs just above your knees. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, slowly tilt your pelvis forward until you feel your lower back against the wall. Inhale and release the stretch by moving your pelvis back to the starting position. Exhale and tilt your pelvis again.

  • Alternating knees to chest: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, bring your right knee up toward your chest, placing your hands behind the knee for guidance and assistance. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and then lower your leg back to the beginning position and repeat the stretch with your left leg.

  • Kneeling pelvic tilt: Get on your hands and knees, making sure to keep your back relaxed and not arched. Inhale, and as you exhale, pull your butt forward rotating the pubic bone upward. Hold this position for three seconds and then relax.

  • Seated upper back stretch: Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent and your arms crossed behind your knees. Inhale as you lean forward, letting your chest rest on your thighs. As you exhale round your back and pull away from your knees, but be sure that your arms are locked under your knees. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.