Simple Exercises to Make You Limber
No matter what your fitness level, stretching is a valuable activity to add to your
daily workout routine.
Although stretching is simple to do, it’s often the most ignored part of people’s
fitness routines. Stretching can reduce your risk for injury and help you become more
limber, regardless of your age and physical condition.
Stretching can improve your circulation and posture because it helps increase your
range of motion, strength, coordination, and flexibility.
Regular stretching reduces muscle tension and promotes freer movement. It should be
comfortable and relaxing. You should never stretch to the point of pain. When you
stretch, work at your own pace and within your own limits.
As with any other fitness program, be sure to check with your healthcare provider
before beginning a stretching routine. This is especially important if you have arthritis,
joint dysfunction, or back problems. Stretching can be helpful to people with these
conditions. But some exercises may overstress the joints. Here are some basic things
Stretch after your regularly scheduled strength and endurance exercises.
If stretching is the only kind of exercise you are able to do, stretch at least 3
times a week, for at least 20 minutes each session.
Do each stretching exercise 3 to 5 times during each session.
Slowly stretch into the desired position, as far as possible without pain. Hold the
stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Relax. Repeat, trying to stretch a bit farther.
Here are some safety recommendations:
If you have had a hip replacement, check with your surgeon before doing lower body
Always warm up before stretching exercises. You can do them after endurance or strength
exercises. If you are doing only stretching exercises on a particular day, do a little
bit of easy walking and arm-pumping first. Stretching your muscles before they are
warmed up may result in injury.
Stretching should never cause pain, especially joint pain. If it does, you are stretching
too far. You need to reduce the stretch so that it doesn't hurt.
Mild discomfort or a mild pulling sensation is normal.
Never "bounce" into a stretch. Make slow, steady movements instead. Jerking into position
can cause muscles to tighten. This might result in injury.
Avoid "locking" your joints into place when you straighten them during stretches.
Your arms and legs should be straight when you stretch them, but don't lock them in
a tightly straight position. You should always have a very small amount of bending
in your joints while stretching.
You can do the following stretches while sitting at your desk or standing in your
work area. Doing them a few times a day will help release the muscle tension in your
hands, arms, shoulders, and back.
Do each stretch to the point of light tightness. Move your body slowly and gently.
Breathe deeply and regularly. Exhale as you bend into a stretch. Breathe in a controlled,
rhythmic manner while you’re in the stretch.
Reach your arms out in front of you. Rotate your wrists 10 times in a clockwise direction,
then 10 times counterclockwise.
Arms and hands
Clasp your hands together in front of your chest at shoulder height. Extend your arms
forward until you feel a stretch in your upper back, shoulders, arms, and hands. Hold
for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Arms and shoulders
Lift 1 arm in front of you as if to grab something. Then use the other arm to pull
the outstretched arm gently across the chest so that the muscles are stretched. Hold
for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat for another 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat, using your
Neck and shoulders
Sit tall in a chair. Let your right arm down and grasp the seat. Then try to tip the
head toward the left side. Holding onto the seat keeps your shoulders level during
the stretch. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat for another 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat,
using your left arm.
Bring your arms behind your back and link your fingers with your palms facing inward.
Straighten your arms and lift them up until you feel a stretch in your arms, shoulders,
and chest. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat the stretch for another 15 to 30
Sit tall in your chair and try to turn to grab the back of the chair while keeping
your feet flat on the floor. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat the stretch turning
to the other side.
Cross 1 ankle onto the opposite knee and sit tall. Then, lean forward from your hips,
keeping your chest upright. This stretches the outer hip, which is the reason for
many back problems. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat using the other leg.