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Warming up your muscles, ligaments and tendons before you begin any physical activity
can reduce your risk of injury. Start your activity slowly, and always spend the first couple
of minutes of the activity getting used to the increased effort that exercise places on your
body. If you take the time to warm-up before you begin your physical activity routine,
chances are you will minimize the possibility of muscle soreness later.
Simple stretching exercises can reduce fatigue and muscle stiffness from a long day at
work, tension from traffic jams and too much sitting. Regular stretching also increases
your flexibility and can help reduce the risk of injury from physical activity. Ideally,
stretching should be a part of your physical activity routine, and muscles respond to
stretching best after they are "warmed up." However, if you can't take the time to
stretch after your warm-up and before your physical activity. you can stretch when you are
finished. This is a great way to "cool down" from your activity, and it is relaxing, too!
Stretching Tips
Do not bounce.
Use slow, controlled movements,
Stretching should be relaxing...don't forget to breath while you are stretching. Try
exhaling gradually as you perform each stretch.
Stretch until you fee a slight tension or pulling sensation...stretching should not bc painful.
Hold Each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds each.
Don't force a stretch beyond your comfort level. With regular stretching over time, your
flexibility will improve.
Stretch daily.
Side to Side looks
Neck Rolls
Look straight ahead, slowly
turn your head to one side.
Hold for 10 seconds, then
return to the center.
Repeat 3 times on each side.
Slowly lower your chin down
towards your chest. Roll your
neck toward one shoulder, hold
for 10 seconds, and then gently
roll to the opposite side. Repeal 3
Ear to Shoulder Stretches
Slowly lower each ear to
the corresponding shoulder,
hold for 10 seconds, then
return to thc upright
position. Repeat 3 rimes on
each side.
Shoulder Shrugs
Sitting in a chair, slowly lift
your shoulders up to your
ears by squeezing your
shoulder blades together,
hold and tighten for 10
seconds, then release the
tension. Repeat 4 to 6 times.
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Shoulder Rolls
Lower-Back Stretch, version #2
Additional Stretches
For those of you beginning a moderate walking program, these additional stretches may be
helpful for maintaining or improving the flexibility in your lower back and legs.
Remember that stretching is most effective on "warm" muscles, so walk for a few minutes
before performing these stretches or perform them as part of your "cool down" routine
when you are completed with your walk.
Calve Stretch
Quadriceps Stretch
Hamstring Stretch (not shown)
Sit on the floor, bring one foot into your groin area while keeping your other leg straight
out in front of you. Slowly reach for your foot on the straight leg, attempting to pull your
chest to your knee. Focus your vision on your foot in front of you. Hold 10 to 30
seconds, then slowly rise back up. Repeat 2-4 times for each leg.
Put your hands on your waist,
slowly rotate your shoulders in
a circular movement
forward and around. Repeat 10
times forward and then 10
times backwards.
Lower-Back Stretch, version #1
Sit on the edge of a stable
chair with your feet on the
floor. Slowly bend
forward from the waist
until your hands touch the
floor and you feel a
stretch in your lower back.
Hold 10 to 15 seconds,
then slowly rise back up.
Repeat 3-5 times.
Sit on the floor, and clasp your hands behind your knees. Slowly roll
backwards (be sure to do this on carpet or a padded surface), until you are
lying on your back. Slowly pull your knees to your chest, while pressing your
lower back into the floor. Hold 10 to 30 seconds, then unclasp your hands
and lower your knees. Repeat 2-4 times
While standing about 1-2 feet from a wall, place one foot close to the wall, and extend
the oilier foot behind you, in a step position. Place both arms against the wall, and
gradually lean towards the wall, keeping your back leg straight, and ideally, your rear
foot flat on the ground. Keep your low back flat and gently press your hips forward.
Hold 10-30 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times for each leg.
While standing 1-2 feet from a wall, use one arm to balance
against the wall while you use your other arm to reach behind
you and grab the opposite leg just above the ankle. Gradually
pull the leg up and back, while keeping your knees close
together. Hold 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times for each leg.