A Primer of Stretching Exercises: Why, what, when and how to stretch.

cartoon of man stretching

Stretching reduces aches and pains of daily living.

Strength training and cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise are essential to maintain the required strength and stamina for daily living. However, you need stretching and flexibility exercises to reduce the stress and strain that your body endures with the loss of flexibility that can occurs with aging. 

Moving Freely

You need good flexibility for optimal movement of your body parts. Good flexibility means muscles are less tense, more supple and have better blood flow. More blood flow to the muscles means they receive more oxygen and nutrition. Better circulation of blood also means better waste removal. This means there is quicker removal of lactic acid and other metabolic byproducts. Your muscles will better absorb the shock and stress of every day movements, when they are more supple. read more…

Stretching the Hamstring Muscles

Stretch Your Hamstring Muscles to Decrease Knee Pain and Back Pain.

The hamstrings are the muscles on the back of the thigh. The three hamstring muscles are responsible for bending at the knee or flexing the knee. Hamstring tears are often the reason you see sprinters pulling up in a race. The hamstrings attach to the part of the pelvic bone which you sit on. When tight, they can tilt the pelvis backward, flattening the lower back. This can adversely affect the mechanics of the back and pelvis, which can strain your spine and hips. Like the quadriceps, tight hamstrings are often contributing factors of low back pain as well as knee pain.

How to Stretch the Hamstring Muscles

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An Ergonomic Look at your Computer Work Station

Here is how to start with a proper ergonomic set up.

Is your chair’s height adjustable?

  • Your feet should be flat on the floor.
  • The knees should be slightly lower than the hips.
  • Do not compromise your correct seating position to achieve the correct height of the monitor and keyboard (see below for monitor positioning).

Do you have an adequate back rest with lumbar support? read more…

Stretch the Quadriceps Muscles to Decrease Knee and Back Pain

 Why should you stretch your Quadriceps muscles?

The Quadriceps are the muscles in the front of the thigh. They are commonly referred to as the quads. These muscles are responsible for extending the knee, when stepping forward, kicking and climbing stairs. They get a lot of use and deserve a good stretch.

Tight Quadriceps are a common cause of knee pain. Keeping the Quadriceps muscles flexible helps decrease the wear and tear on the knee cap and knee joints in general. Flexible Quadriceps are more elastic. This increased elasticity decreases the compressive forces on the knee joints. Less compression means less rubbing and wearing away of your joint surfaces. Hence, less pain due to arthritis or inflammation of your knee joints. read more…

Learn to Use Your Abdominal Muscles to Protect Your Spine

The abdominal muscle

The different layers of abdominal muscles.

When your abdominal muscles are working properly they provide essential protection for your spine. Sadly, this is not the case for many people. I see this in the large number of troublesome backs that come through my office.

There are four layers of abdominal muscles. The deep layers are among the most important for stabilizing the lower back. These muscles are all too often weak and uncoordinated.

Sit-ups and crunches exercise primarily the more superficial layer of abdominal muscles. Sometimes these muscles are strong but without the deep abdominal muscles functioning properly your spine is at risk.

It takes more than sit ups to properly strengthen and coordinate all layers of your abdominal muscles. For maximum protection of your back seek coaching on how to strengthen and coordinate all the abdominal and other muscles that stabilize the spine. read more…

How to Stretch the Adductor (Groin) Muscles

Why stretch the adductor muscles?

The adductor muscles are a group of five muscles with their bulk on the inside (medial side) of the thigh. They are commonly referred to as the groin muscles. They attach to the pubic and ischial (sit bone) part of the pelvis. Their function is to prevent the thigh from slipping outwards. They pull the thigh in, toward the midline of the body. This movement occurs at the hip joint. One of the adductor muscles also crosses the knee joint. These muscles, in coordination with the other thigh muscles, work hard to stabilize and protect the pelvis, hip and knee.

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