7 Stretches to Help You Stick to Your New Year’s Workout Plan
By Robert Rogacki, PT, DPT, CERT. MDT
Is “Exercise More” your 2019 resolution?
Every January, millions of newcomers flock to gyms across the country in hopes of losing weight, improving their physique, and starting a healthier lifestyle. As physical therapists, we love this! We want all of our patients to be happy and healthy, and regular exercise is a key component to both of those goals.
But with a new exercise regimen also comes an increased risk of injury. Regular stretching, with ample warm-up and cooldown periods, is essential for staying healthy while exercising. It can help you improve flexibility, reduce tightness and act as a great way to increase your chances of long-term success. Here are a few simple stretches you can do to stay limber as you get rolling with your new exercise program.
Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Stand on one leg, grab your ankle and pull your foot up towards your buttock. Make sure your knee stays parallel with your stand leg and does not move out in front of your body. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 times on both sides.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Prop your foot up onto a chair or step. Slowly lean forward, bending at the waist until you feel a stretch behind your thigh. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the stretch and do not lean forward for extra distance. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 times on both sides.
Standing Calf Stretch
Stand facing a wall with one leg behind the other. Keep your back heel on the ground and lean forward toward the wall until a stretch is felt in the back leg. Your front knee should bend comfortably as you’re leaning forward. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 times on both sides.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Place one knee on the ground (or on a pillow) and bring your other leg in front of you to achieve a half-kneeling position. While maintaining a neutral spine and upright posture, shift your hips forward until a stretch is felt in the thigh on your back leg (the one kneeling on the ground). Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 times on both sides.
Posterior Shoulder Stretch
Reach one arm across your body. Use your other arm to pull at the elbow, taking the arm into more of a stretch. The stretch should be felt in the lateral or posterior shoulder, near the shoulder blade. Hold for each stretch for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 times on both sides.
Reach one arm overhead, then bend your elbow as if to reach your hand down your back. Use your other arm to pull at the elbow, taking the arm into more of a stretch. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 times on both sides.
Upper Trap Stretch
Tilt your head to one side. Using the arm on that same side, reach over the top of your head and pull further to the side until a stretch is felt along the other side of the neck. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 times on both sides.
If you have any questions or any pain with these exercises, please consult a Therapydia physical therapist.
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