5 Essential Stretches That Anyone CAN Do and Everyone SHOULD Do

5 Essential Stretches That Anyone CAN Do and Everyone SHOULD Do

by Emilie Wyrick L.M.T.

Picture this – You’ve just arrived to Therapia and are settling in for your chiropractic, acupuncture and/or massage session. It’s been a bit of a day and you’re so glad to be under the care of a qualified and compassionate practitioner. Your practitioner works with you during your appointment to address your areas of concern. By the end of your session you’re feeling better than you have all day! You walk out of the office head held high, shoulders back, hips relaxed and swinging gracefully, with a smile beaming on your face. You feel like a different person!

But what comes next? You get back into your car, or walk back to home or work and sit down on your couch or at your desk. Your shoulders begin to sag. Your tailbone tucks under. Your neck starts to droop and slowly but surely those little annoying twinges begin to return. “What can I do to prevent this from happening again and again?”, you may ask. Well, read on, dear client of Therapia Wellness Clinic. You’re about to find out!

In the next few paragraphs, I’m going to share with you five essential stretches that anyone CAN do and everyone SHOULD do. No equipment required. Just the willingness to take 5-10 minutes out of your day to take care of your body and reinforce the beneficial work your practitioner does for you at every appointment.

The stretches are simple. What you’re going to be doing is addressing the most common locations of tension/tightness/high tone, performing each stretch for one minute (or more!). You can do all the stretches at once, or you can break down the stretches and do them at different times during the day. The more you do, the more benefits you’ll get!

Number 1 – Neck and Shoulder Stretch

Neck and Shoulder Stretch

Sit comfortably with your hips and knees at right angles (if you can’t get to this position, just be sure that you are sitting on your sit bones and your spine is straight and tall). Make sure that your posture is solid – belly in slightly, back long and extended, shoulders rolled back and down, neck neutral. To stretch, first extend the arm of the side you want to stretch down and out to your side. Keep your posture locked! Then, take your other hand and reach up and over to the opposite side. Gently pull your head to the side, keeping your eyes and nose facing forward. Avoid any rotation here. Hold for at least 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side!

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Number 2 – Chest Stretch

Chest Stretch

Stand in a doorway on the side that doesn’t have the door attached. Take your arms out to your sides in a very wide “W” or Cactus position. Make sure that your forearms are flat against the doorjamb and your hands are relaxed, fingers open. Check your posture – belly in slightly, back long and extended, shoulders rolled back and down, neck neutral. Step forward with one leg (doesn’t matter which leg) and lean your body forward, feeling a stretch in the front of your chest and maybe even your upper arms. Add a little bit more of a stretch by trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together and down your back. Hold for at least 60 seconds.

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Number 3 – Trunk and Neck Rotation Stretch

Trunk and Neck Stretch

Set yourself up just like you did with your Neck and Shoulder Stretch. It’s helpful if the chair you are seated in does not swivel, but you can do this stretch either way. To stretch, make sure that your posture is set – belly in slightly, back long and extended, shoulders rolled back and down, neck neutral. In addition, make sure that your knees are about 8 inches apart and that they stay facing forward and do not move during your stretch. Then, take the hand of opposite side to the one you are stretching and place it on the inside of the same side knee. Then, take the hand of the same side you are stretching and reach it behind you, rotating at the hips and turning your head as far into the stretch as you can. Hold for at least 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side!

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Number 4 – Outer Hip Stretch

Outer Hip Stretch

Set yourself up just like you did with Stretch 1 and 3. To stretch, cross the ankle of the side you are stretching on the knee of the opposite leg. Your goal is to have the shin as parallel to the floor as possible. Adjust the height of your chair so that you are able to both keep your posture locked AND are able to feel a stretch in the outside of the hip you are stretching. You may also feel a stretch on the inner thigh, and that’s just fine! Hold the stretch for at least 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side!

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Number 5 – Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

Stand with both feet facing forward, about 8 inches apart. It is helpful to stand with a chair, a counter, or a wall in front of you. While keeping your posture solid – belly in slightly, back long and extended, shoulders rolled back and down, neck neutral – step the leg of the side you want to stretch back about 2 feet. Make sure that your foot is flat and that your hip bones are both facing forward. Adjust the position of your foot forward or back to increase or decrease the stretch. Hold the stretch for at least 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side!

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