One of the keys to maintaining strong, healthy bones and joints involves exercise or, to be more precise, stretching exercises.
Stretching each day not only helps reduce any tension or discomfort you may feel in your shoulders, neck, back, arms, and legs – but it can also increase the range of motion in your joints and improve your posture, not to mention increase blood flow to your muscles and reduce the risk of injury.
There are two types of orthopedic stretches that are especially beneficial for your bone and joint health: static and dynamic.
1. Static stretches are stretches that extend your muscle to the end of its range of motion, then hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds while allowing the body to relax into the stretch. By holding the position, you increase tissue flexibility.
Examples of static stretches include:
· Head bend – The purpose of this exercise is to stretch your neck and upper trapezius muscle (upper back and neck). Start by standing up straight. Now stretch your left arm outward, bend it upward and behind you, and place your left hand against the back of your head on the right side. Now gently move your head downward and toward your left shoulder until it won’t bend further, and hold this position for about 30 seconds. Then gently release your head and repeat this movement with your right arm, to bend your head toward your right shoulder.
· Shoulder and arm stretch – Begin with your arms hanging at your side. Relax your shoulders. Then, bring your right arm forward and across your body. Grab your right elbow with your left hand, and gently pull the elbow into and across your body until you feel a tug in your shoulder and arm. Hold that position for 30 seconds. Then relax before repeating the stretch for your other side.
· Hamstring stretch – This stretch focuses on strengthening the hamstring region on the back of your leg. Lie down on the floor on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your sides. Now, raise your right foot and leg toward the ceiling, but be sure to keep your leg straight. Once you’ve raised your leg as far and straight as possible, hold it for 30 seconds before lowering it. Then repeat for the left leg.
2. Dynamic stretches do not hold muscles in a position. Instead, they are designed to challenge each muscle’s range of motion by moving it through motions that increase in intensity. These stretches warm up and prepare your joints, muscles, and ligaments for action. They also help reduce your risk of sustaining an overuse injury.
Examples of dynamic stretches include:
· Leg swings – These dynamic stretches flex and extend the leg muscles. Begin by standing at arm’s length from a wall, facing perpendicular to the wall (not facing the wall). Now, place your right hand against the wall, shoulder height, to balance yourself, and shift your weight to your left leg. Then, swing your right leg forward and backward up to 12 times. Take your time, and try to thrust your leg a bit higher with each swing. Then face the opposite direction, and repeat with your left hand against the wall and swinging your left leg.
· Arm swings – Use this exercise to warm and stretch your arms, chest, upper back, and shoulders. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-distance apart. Now, bend your knees slightly. In fluid motion, swing both of your arms overhead, forward, down and back. Repeat this movement up to 10 times.
· Back-handed arm press – This stretch is designed to realign your posture and release the tension in your back. Stand up straight with your back close to a wall. Then, bend your elbows up and lift your arms to shoulder level with palms facing backward above your head. Press into the wall for 30 seconds (without leaning on the wall with your back). Repeat several times.
Orthopedic Doctor in St. Louis, MO
For more information on the best stretches for your bones and joints, consult with your orthopedic specialist at our experienced medical group today.
Simply call Advanced Bone & Joint at (636) 229-4222 to arrange a visit at our St. Peters or O’Fallon locations, or fill out our easy-to-use online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you achieve and maintain that active lifestyle you’ve always loved.