At Wellwest we take injury prevention seriously. There is a bewildering array of advice about what to do, with most of it not practical for the busy lives we lead. We suggest these 10 simple stretches that can fit with the busiest of lifestyles.
Do not overstretch, a good posture (or form) while gently stretching is more beneficial than the distance travelled. As with all exercises if there is any pain experienced discontinue the stretches and consult us.
While standing on one leg hold the ankle of your opposite leg and pull it towards the buttock of the same side. Keep the back straight, stomach in and use a chair for support. To increase this stretch; first tilt your pelvis, drawing your tail bone underneath you using your stomach muscles, holding this then draw the foot of your bent leg towards the buttock.
Place one leg on a chair and bend forward, keeping the back straight. There should be a sensation of stretch in the back of your leg. For a more 'advanced' version place your leg on a higher surface and bring the toes towards you while trying to touch them with both hands, keeping the back straight.
Alternative: Alternative version for those that may find this stretch difficult e.g. pregnant woman. Stand, facing a wall. With your hands flat on the wall to support your weight, slowly slide one foot backwards until you feel a good stretch. As you slide your leg back, the other leg should begin to bend at the knee.
While standing (or sitting) elevate both shoulders and then rotate them backwards and downwards. Repeat 7 times. Breathe slowly and deeply into your stomach.
Place one hand under the side of the chair and hold onto the seat pan base. Place the other hand on the opposite side of your head. Pull head slightly forwards and away from shoulder and look to floor then slightly up to the ceiling.
Kneel on one knee with the other leg out front, slightly off to the outside of the body. The foot should be in front of the knee. Lean your hips forward, downward and toward foot on floor. Keep your back straight and the stomach in. Use the free hand to stabilise on a chair if required. As with all stretches this to be done very carefully if pregnant.
Alternative: Alternative when there is a partner that is able to help. Lie on your back with one leg off a high bed, or similar piece of furniture. Hold your other knee to your chest while a partner pushes the other leg down. If discomfort is felt in the lower back pull the bent knee closer the chest or discontinue the stretch and consult your osteopath. Not suitable for pregnant women.
LEFT: Sit on the floor, bring one foot to outside of the opposite knee, twist around and put your opposite elbow against your opposite knee. Use pressure to twist into your lower and middle back. Keep back straight. Be careful not to put too much pressure into the base of your back.
RIGHT: Sit on the floor, with a wall to one side of you. The legs should be bent underneath you and out to the side away from the wall so you are resting loosely across the leg and foot which are closer to the wall. Turn your upper body very slowly to face the wall and use your hands against the wall to support yourself as you gently turn.
Lie on the floor and bring both of your knees to your chest. Slowly rotate the knees in small circles.
Alternative: Alternative version for those that may find this stretch difficult e.g. pregnant woman. Lie on the floor, bring both your knees to your chest. Keep the legs apart slightly to avoid compressing the stomach. Slowly rotate the knees in small circles.
Lie on your back and bend a knee upwards to 90 degrees. Place one hand on the knee and the other on the ankle. Pull the ankle towards you until the sensation of stretch is felt in the buttock of the same side. Slightly adjust the ankle position to stretch different areas in the buttocks. Do not pull from the underside of the foot as this will pressure the ligaments in the ankle. For pregnant women that may find this difficult it is suggested a partner helps to gently guide the leg into the right position. In this case the knee does not have to pulled towards the chest so much and can remain more upright. The stretch will still be effective if the ankle is gently turned towards the opposite shoulder.
Lie on floor, arms outstretched at shoulder level and bring one leg over the other to touch the floor on the opposite side of the body. Keep both legs straight. The higher the foot goes toward opposite hand the more intense the stretch. Not suitable for pregnant women.
Alternative: Alternative version for pregnant women. Kneeling or sitting on the floor with your arms at your sides, slowly bring your hands together in front of you. Raise the elbows on both sides until you feel a stretch in the bottom of your wrists and forearms. Very useful for pregnant women in reducing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Roll up a towel to approximately 3 cm in diameter and place it on the floor. Lie on your back over the rolled up towel with the arms outstretched on both sides at shoulder level. The towel should run across the back and be at the level of the bottom of the shoulder blades. Ensure your chin is tucked in before relaxing into the position or use a small pillow to prevent neck extension. Stay in the position for 2 minutes. For those that find this difficult reduce the size of the towel roll up. Not suitable for pregnant women.
Alternative: Alternative version for those that may find this stretch difficult or pregnant woman. Stand next to a wall and place the hand behind you at just above shoulder level. Rotate the body into the room until a stretch is felt in the chest muscles and arm.
Lie on back with a towel over one foot. Keep leg straight and pull up towards 90 degrees. Careful to keep leg in the midline and not let it drift off to the side of the body. Hold for the count of 20. Breathe slowly and deeply into your stomach. Repeat both sides. Do not overstretch, a good posture while gently stretching is more beneficial than the distance travelled.
Our Auckland Osteopaths are located at Wellwest, 31 Lincoln Road in Henderson, Waitakere, West Auckland. Call 838 0631