Fitness Friday


FORT MYERS, Fla. – Stretching is an important component of living a healthy lifestyle that is often overlooked as something that isn’t beneficial. Guys especially are guilty of neglecting stretching and instead focusing solely on pumping up their muscles. Stretching can improve flexibility, reduce pain, aid in muscle recovery, and even treat injuries! Allowing your body to remain elastic and have a greater range of motion will make muscle tears less likely and can actually help prevent injuries when training.

Try these stretches when you first wake up, or after your regular workout. Aim to do them 5 times a week. You’ll see improvement to your flexibility in as little as a few weeks and gains in both your strength and endurance in less than a month.  If you do it right out of bed, make sure you stretch more slowly and gently

Upward Stretch

Start the morning by raising your arms, it’s a great way to get the blood flowing and wake up the body. Lace your fingers together and raise your hands above your head, palms facing upward. Elongate your spine and feel the stretch in your ribcage and arms. Hold for a count of 10.

Neck and Shoulder Stretch

Doing neck and shoulder stretches in the morning can ease tension that can happen while sleeping. To stretch the muscles on the right side of your neck, turn your left ear over to your left shoulder and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Then roll your shoulders to the back, and to the front. Then lift them up to your ears, tensing the muscles, and allow them to drop completely. Repeat this entire sequence three times.

Upper Back and Chest Release – Targets the upper back, chest, biceps, and shoulders.

Seated/Standing, clasp hands with palms facing you and round upper back keeping arms straight and active. Think about the shoulder blades spreading wide across your back. Hold stretch for 2-3 deep breaths. THEN extend both arms out to your sides with your palms up and thumbs point behind you. Hold the stretch for 4-6 deep breaths increasing the stretch with each breathe.

Side Stretch – Targets the IT band (outer thigh), obliques and shoulders. Seated with your right hand on bed or wall, reach your left arm up and over head, creating a long line from the left hip to the left fingertips. Hold and take 2-3 deep inhales and exhales.  Repeat on right.

Seated Spinal Twist – Targets the spine, neck and shoulders.

Seated with your legs together, lengthen spine rotate from the waist, placing one hand behind you and the other hand on your outer thigh for support. For a deeper stretch for the neck, turn your gaze to look over your shoulder as well. Hold 2-3 deep breaths.  Repeat other side. A spinal twist is a great way to relieve stress in your lower back. Don’t be alarmed if you hear some “cracks” in your spine when you twist into the pose. Don’t force anything here; just feel your spinal column wringing itself out after a good night’s sleep.

Standing Forward Bend – Targets hamstrings and lower back.

Standing with feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent, hinge forward at the hips.  Allow your upper body to hang over your legs and clasp elbows. Hold for 2-3 deep breaths while you gently shake your head no and even more gently nod your head yes.   To come up, pull in abs and gently round up one vertebra at a time.

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