As busy parents on the go it is important to keep our bodies flexible. As we age our muscles can become tighter and less flexible making it more difficult to keep up with our children and stay active in their lives. Taking 5-10 minutes each day to include these stretches into your daily routine can make all the difference.
Calf Stretch – Your calf muscle runs along the back of your lower leg, from ankle to knee. Stand at arms length away from a wall with your hands on the wall. Place your right foot behind your left foot, keeping the knee on your right leg straight, but not locked. While exhaling, keep your right heel on the floor as you bend your left leg. Your back should be straight and your hips forward. Keep your back leg aligned with the front leg and don’t let your foot rotate inward or outward. You should feel this stretch along the back of your lower right leg. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat with your left leg. You can also perform this stretch with the leg to be stretched slightly bent at the knee, which will stretch the calf muscle a little deeper.
Hamstring Stretch – Your hamstring muscles run along the back of your upper leg, from knee to hip. Using the outer corner of a wall, lie on the floor and rest the heel of your left foot against the wall, with the left knee slightly bent. While exhaling, gently straighten that leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh. You can start by being a little farther away from the wall. As your flexibility increases, you can move yourself closer to the wall to get a deeper stretch. Maintain a constant, gentle stretch, holding for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat using your right leg.
Quadriceps Stretch – Your quadriceps muscle is located on the front of your thigh. Standing near a wall for support, place your left hand on the wall and while exhaling grasp your right ankle with your right hand and gently pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your right thigh. Make sure there is a slight bend in the left knee. Be sure to maintain a constant, gentle stretch. If the stretch lessens, pull your heel further back until you feel a stretch again. It is important to keep the knee of the leg being stretched close to your other knee. Always try to stand in an upright position and don’t lean too far forward or backward. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat by switching the hand you place on the wall and grasping the opposite leg.
Lower Back Stretch – This stretches the muscles of your lower back. Lie on your back on a firm surface with your knees and hips bent and the backs of your heels flat on the floor. While exhaling, gently pull one knee up to your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Keep the opposite leg relaxed in a comfortable position, with your knee bent or with your leg extended. Bring the knee as close to your chest as possible. If the stretch is uncomfortable, back off a bit. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat with your opposite leg.
Shoulder Stretch – This stretches the back of your shoulder. Exhale and bring your arm across your body and hold it with your opposite arm, either above or below the elbow but not directly on the elbow joint. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on your opposite shoulder.
Neck Stretch – This stretches your neck muscles. Exhale and bend your head forward and slightly to the left. With your left hand, you can gently pull your head downward to help with the stretch. Don’t pull too hard on your head; it should be a comfortable stretch. You will feel a nice, easy stretch along the back right side of your neck. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Don’t wait until you are unable to keep up with your children. Start stretching today and feel the difference.
Note: Please consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.