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Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises help to relieve stress as they get the blood flowing - improving circulation while adding flexibility and relieving muscle tension. Stretching exercises also stimulate receptors in the nervous system that decrease the production of stress hormones.

Warm Up First:

Warm-up exercises done before stretching exercises will increase the temperature of your muscles, making them more flexible and reducing the chance of injury. Five minutes of walking, dancing, riding a stationary bike should be enough.

Static Stretching Exercises

The most common form of stretching. The static stretch is held for 10 - 20 seconds. Static stretches are a safe way to improve flexibility. They are very relaxing. When stretching, do not bounce as this risks you tearing muscles. You should feel a slight pull, but never pain. Hold each stretch for 10 - 20 seconds. You should stretch each major muscle group: arms, legs, neck, shoulders, lower back, abs, and butt.

Dynamic Stretching Exercises

The body is in motion, stretches are not held - swinging/kicking your legs, swinging your arms in circles. They are very useful as part of a warming up before aerobic activity.

Neck Stretching Exercises

Neck Stretch 1

To loosen up the neck, where many people carry their stress: Stand or sit up straight with the bottom of your spine turned under. (Do not arch your back) Let your head fall forward, keeping the neck and shoulders relaxed. Slowly roll your head to one side, then let it drop and roll to the other side. Be careful not to overstretch. Do not roll the neck backwards.

Neck Stretch 2

Stand up with your back against the wall. Try to press the small of your back and the back of your neck toward the wall. Hold for 10 – 30 seconds. Do not overstretch!

Neck Stretch 3

Stand or sit up straight with the bottom of your spine turned under. (Do not arch your back)
Tilt head sideways, first one side then the other. Hold for 10 - 20 seconds. Repeat.
Tilt head forward. Hold for 10 - 20 seconds. Repeat.

Upper Body Stretching Exercises

Shoulder, Back, Arms Stretch

Sit or Stand with knees slightly flexed. Interlace fingers, extend arms forward at shoulder level. Turn palms out and reach your arms further until you feel a stretch. Hold 10 - 20 seconds. Repeat.

Sides, Waist Stretch

Stand with knees slightly flexed. (can also be done sitting down) Place your right hand behind your head. Grab your right elbow with your left hand and pull gently. Bend slowly to the left until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold 10 - 20 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat.

Abdomen / Shoulder Body Stretch

Lie on Back, arms extended over head. Stretch your arms and legs, lengthening your body. Hold for 10 - 20 seconds. Relax. Repeat.

Shoulder Roll

Sit or Stand straight with knees slightly bent, arms at your side. In a continuous circular motion, move shoulders forward (stretching your shoulder blades), shrug shoulders up and backward (squeezing your shoulder blades) and return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Lower Back Stretches

Pelvic Tilt

Lie on back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Press the small of your back against the floor, or until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold 10 - 20 seconds. Repeat.

Pelvic Twist

Lie on back, knees bent, feet flat on floor, arms stretched straight out at sides. Slowly lower both knees to one side until you feel a gentle stretch in the lower back and hip. Pause and return to starting position. Switch sides. Repeat 10 times.

Knee to Chest Lower Back Stretch

Lie on back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Grasp the back of one thigh under the knee and gently pull toward the shoulder until a gentle stretch is felt. (Keep opposite foot flat on floor) Hold for 10 to twenty seconds. Switch sides. Repeat.

Knees to Chest Gluteal Stretch

Lie on back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Grasp the back of both thighs under the knee and gently pull both knees towards chest. Hold for 10 to twenty seconds. Repeat.

Leg Stretching Exercises:

*Safety Tip: When doing stretching exercises for the legs, do not lock the knees. Keep them slightly bent.

Inner-Thigh Stretch:

Sitting on floor, press the soles of your feet together. Lower your knees towards the floor. Slowly lower your body towards the floor until you feel a slight pull in the inner thighs. Hold 10 - 20 seconds. Sit back up. Repeat.

Inner Thigh/Groin Stretch:

Stand with feet 2-3 feet apart. Bend your right knee while moving your left hip in the direction of your right knee until you feel the stretch. Hold the stretch for 10 - 20 seconds the switch sides. Repeat.

Hamstring (back of thigh) Stretch:

Sitting, extend the right leg, place left foot against right knee. Lean forward, reaching for foot until you feel a slight pull on you hamstring. Hold for 10 - 20 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat.

Hamstring (back of thigh) Stretch II:

Lie flat on back. Raise left leg up. Grab back of thigh and pull leg up further until you feel a gentle pull in the hamstring. Hold for 10 - 20 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat.

Calves (back of lower leg) Stretch:

Stand up. Move left foot forward with knee bent. Move the right foot backward keeping knee straight and heel on ground. Hold for 10 - 20 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat.

Quadriceps Stretch (front of thigh):

Stand up. Bend your knee behind you, grab your ankle and gently pull your heel toward you butt until you feel a gentle pull on the front of your thigh. Hold for 10 - 20 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat.

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