Stretching exercises: Tips and techniques

Stretching...why bother? Stretching should be performed both before and after exercise; for some people, if stretching is done correctly, it is exercise in itself.
Tight, stiff muscles interfere with your muscle action, limiting your range of movement. In some cases, this lack of flexibility can be a major factor to muscle and joint pain. Stretching is good for your circulation too.
In short, it's good to stretch! However, that being said, if you haven’t done any form of exercise for a while, best to have a chat with your GP first.
Mark is a practising, qualified Sports Therapist and in this blog he describes 10 easy to learn stretches (there are literally hundreds, but here are just 10 for now!)

Hold and Repetitions (reps)

Just a quick note with regards to how long you should hold the stretch, and how many repetitions you should do.

There is no set answer, but the trick is you must hold the stretch, you mustn’t over stretch, and you mustn’t do too many repetitions!

Hold the stretch a minimum of 10 seconds, but if you have the time and inclination, you can hold for 30 seconds.
Anything between 1 to 3 repetitions will do the trick – but listen to your body, and don’t overdo it because there is no rush!

Image shows a lady sat on a chair, ready to stretch her arms

Rotating Neck Stretch

Technique: Sit straight whilst keeping your shoulders relaxes and your chin up. Slowly turn your head to the side, until you feel that stretch. Hold that stretch for 5 – 8 seconds and slowly return your head to the centre. Repeat on the other side.

Tech Tip: Keep your shoulders square and your head up. Don’t let your chin fall, keep it straight during the rotations.

 

Lateral Neck Stretch

Technique: Look forwards and keep your head up. Slowly move your ear towards your shoulder and feel that stretch. Hold that stretch for 5-8 seconds and return to centre. Repeat on the other side.

Tech Tip: Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed and level. Don’t cheat and bring your shoulders up to meet your ear!

Chin Down Neck Stretch

Technique: Whilst sitting straight, shoulders relaxed and level, let your chin slowly drop to your chest; hold the stretch and slowly return to centre.

Tech Tip: Just use the weight of your head, take it slow and don’t overstretch by forcing your head down.

Chin Up Neck Stretch

Technique: Whilst sitting straight, shoulders relaxed and level, lift your head and look to the sky; hold the stretch and slowly return your head to level.

Tech Tip: Keep your mouth closed and teeth together for a better stretch.

Give Yourself A Hug Stretch

Technique: Whilst sitting straight and relaxed, simply wrap your arms around your shoulders and hug yourself…. you deserve it! Now slowly pull your shoulders back for an extended stretch.

Tech Tips: Go slow, don’t pull too quickly. Ease into the stretch…

Hands On Your Head Stretch

Technique: Whilst sitting straight, interlock your fingers and place your hands on your head. Now pull your elbows back to feel the stretch.

Tech Tip: If you are feeling adventurous, you can raise your hands above your head for the stretch which will activate different muscle groups.

Fold Your Arms Stretch

Technique: Whilst sitting straight and shoulders level, cross your arms across your chest and slowly rotate your shoulders to one side; hold and repeat on the other side.

Tech Tip: Use your hands to pull your upper body round a little further.

Scratch Your Back Stretch

Technique: Sit with your hand behind your neck and your elbow pointing upwards (as if you are trying to scratch your back/shoulders). Then use your other hand to slowly pull your elbow down.

Tech Tip: You can use a towel to help pull that hand down your back, if required.

Lateral Side Stretch

Technique: Whilst sitting straight and upright with your feet flat on the floor, slowly bend to your side, reaching to the ground. Do not bend forward, just to the side. Feel the stretch and hold as usual. Repeat on the other side.

Tech Tip: With the non-reaching hand hold onto the seat of the chair for stability. Don’t lean forwards.

Ballerina Lateral Side Stretch

Technique: Whilst sitting straight and upright with your feet flat on the floor, slowly bend to the side and reach over the top of your head with your hand.

Tech Tip: Don’t lean forwards, and with the non-reaching hand hold onto the seat of the chair for stability.

We hope you have found these stretches useful, and can start using them as part of your regular exercise routine.

We are working on some videos and downloadable instruction guides that demonstrate these stretches (as well as more exercises) – coming soon to our Knowledge Village!

Now, get stretching….!

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Sarah
Sarah
Sarah is the Marketing Manager with responsibility for Community Services across Greater Manchester, and the Knowledge Village.