Pick 4 stretches and do each one for 2 minutes at least once daily. If you stick to it you will see flexibility improvement in a matter of weeks.
Foam Roll Especially important for heel pain. The main area affected by this stretch is the plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the front of the foot. ~50% of Americans suffer from heel pain, the most common cause is plantar fasciitis.
• Grab a ball about the size of a golf ball and place it on the floor in front of you
• Stand with back straight, arms at the sides and place the center of foot over the ball
• Curve toes forward as though trying to wrap foot around the ball and hold 2 minutes or repeat a few times with breaks.
• Repeat with other foot
Foot Flex with Resistance Band Improves flexibility in calf muscles and Achilles tendon. Need elastic stretch band and padded flat surface like yoga mat.
• Lie on back on the mat, bend knees and place both feet flat on floor
• Lift one leg and wrap the band around ball of foot
• Pull the ends of band toward you and lift leg without locking knee
• Gently push upward with foot as much as possible without locking knee
• Hold 2 minutes then switch to other leg.
Figure 4 Stretch The figure 4 stretch got its name because legs create a shape similar to the number 4. This stretches hip muscles – glutes and piriformis. Since tight hips can cause back stiffness the figure 4 stretch helps prevent back pain.
• Lie on back and place left ankle over your right knee Lift legs so right leg is at 90º angle
• Bend forward and wrap hands around right thigh. Ensure left foot is parallel to ground
• Hold 2 minutes then release gently, go to starting position and switch to other leg.
Hip Stretch The core movement of this stretch is probably not done naturally or often which might be the reason for lower back pain or soreness in glute muscles after exercise.
• Lie with your knees bent, both feet flat on ground
• Place left ankle over right knee or foot on upper inner thigh. Without lifting shoulder turn hips left until left knee touches the ground or you’ve reached your limit. You can arch the right foot but don’t lift it off the ground.
• Hold 2 minutes taking deep breaths. Recover, relax and switch to other leg
Torso Twist Stretch is centered on waist area. It improves overall flexibility of waist and can prevent back pain but is the upper body being stretched. Because it’s done seated some might find it easier.
• Sit with straight back with legs extended in front
• Bend right knee and bring right foot over left leg placing foot below left knee. Ensure foot is flat on ground
• Twist upper body including neck and face to the left while placing right arm on inner right thigh. Support yourself by placing left hand behind
• Don’t lean on left arm but keep back and neck upright 2 minutes or until you’ve reached your limit.
• Return to starting position carefully and repeat in opposite direction
Thread the Needle Stretch is challenging compared to the above but is for pain and stiffness in shoulders and upper back. If necessary add blanket or other soft material underneath knees.
• Begin on hands and knees
• Keep your hands under shoulders and knees under hips
• Open chest to the right while extending right arm toward ceiling
• Move right arm under chest along mat. Torso should naturally shift to face down
• Slide right arm onto the mat allowing right shoulder to rest on mat
• Meanwhile extend left arm overhead and rest the side of head on mat
• Hold 2 minutes and repeat in opposite direction
Standing Quad The name stands for the muscle being stretched – the quadriceps, the largest muscle in the body. It requires balance – place a chair nearby to hold onto.
• Bend left knee backward by grasping ankle with one hand
• Assist in bending knee back as far as possible
• Find a spot to focus your gaze and stretch right arm at 90º angle
• Hold 2 minutes and repeat with other leg
Chest on the Ground Works chest muscles, pelvis and upper shoulder area. If having a hard time keeping head up support head with a small pillow.
• Lie on stomach with arms stretched to the sides, hands facing floor and feet flexed backward
• Bend left knee, lift leg and bend it to the right along with the right side of pelvis and lower chest. Ensure left shoulder stays firmly on the ground. Try to touch the ground with toes of the left foot only if you feel capable
• Hold 2 minutes then carefully return to starting position and repeat with other side.