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Make a Habit of Stretching Wherever You Go

By Sandy Schroeder

Flexible muscles and a healthy range of motion work for me every time. When I feel stiff or sore and it's an effort to reach up or down, I know I need to stretch more. Harvard Health says we risk joint pain, strain and muscle damage when we do not stretch because muscles shorten and tighten.

Hamstrings are a good example of what can happen. If you sit all day, the hamstrings in the back of the thigh can tighten and make it more difficult to walk as you try to straighten your knee or extend your leg.  Tight muscles can let you down in sports too and cause injuries or falls.

To keep hamstrings flexible, sit on a mat or the floor with legs in front of you. Move your hands down the legs until there is a tingling sensation. Hold for 30 seconds and return to sitting.

Barre Studio Stretches to Go

Another way to go with stretching can begin with the barre stretches that are usually done in studios. Recently an article in the New York Times suggested those stretches might work wherever there is a wall or other support to use in place of the barre. That means you could use them at work, at home or out on the road. Here are some barre stretches to try.

Do a standing thigh stretch - This stretches the thigh and hip flexor muscles, which get really tight when you sit a lot. Put your left hand on the counter or wall and relax your knees. Lift and bend the right leg while grabbing the foot and holding for 30 seconds. If you can't grip the foot just rest your hand on your thigh as you raise the leg.

Do a standing plank - To improve posture and strengthen the abdominal muscles and upper body, face the wall and place palms about 12 inches apart. Keep legs straight, bend elbows about six inches toward the wall keeping the body straight. Hold for 30 seconds.

Do a figure 4 stretch - After a long car or plane ride which can lead to slouching, this stretch will exercise the hips, back and glutes.  Face the counter or wall. Support yourself with one or both hands and place your right ankle above your left knee creating the figure 4. Bend the knee a little and hold to the count of eight.

Tighten thighs with a V Stretch - Work your thighs and glutes to burn more calories. Hold on to a wall or counter and step an arm's length away. Put heels together turning feet out into a V. Bend knees gently a few inches and raise heels a few inches. Move up and down 8 to 10 times.

Find the stretches that work best for you and use them daily to stay strong and flexible. Your body will be happy and so will you.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Irvine, Calif.

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