- Quad Sets: Sit down on a straight surface, and tighten quadriceps muscles as tightly as possible. Push the back of your knee towards the floor/surface that you’re sitting on. Hold for 5 seconds, relax for 3 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Straight Leg Raises: Lying on back or in a sitting position, tighten quadriceps and lift leg 12-20 inches off the floor, making sure the leg is kept straight. Bend other leg to remove strain from low back. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower leg slowly. Relax for 2 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Wall Slides: Leaning on wall, slowly lower buttocks toward floor until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Tighten quadriceps muscle as you return to starting position. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Side-Lying Hip Abduction: Lying on side, tighten muscle on front of thigh, and then lift your leg 12-20 inches. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower leg. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Side-Lying Hip Adduction: Lying on side, cross your legs, upper over lower and then tighten muscle on front of thigh, then lift lower leg 8-10 inches.
- Simple Squats: Stand up straight, and use a squatting motion to bend your legs until they are parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight and keep looking up. Do not bend you knees over your toes. Rather, keep your buttocks as far back as you can, and do not lean forward. Stretch your hands when your legs are parallel to the floor to keep your balance. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 10-30 times.
Let’s begin. I want you to remember to hold each position for 15-30 seconds. The stretch should hurt a bit, but not in your joints. It should hurt in your stretched muscles. These stretches are also good for balance and coordination, as you will see once you start doing them.
- Hamstring stretch: Tuck the foot of one leg in near your groin. Keep the other leg straight. Reach down the shin of the straight leg until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh. Hold for a count of 15-30 seconds, relax, then stretch again. Repeat for other leg.
- Quadriceps stretch: You can do this standing up or you can use your hand to grab on to a wall or other object so you can keep your balance. Bend your left leg and use your right hand to reach behind you and grab the ankle of your left leg. Pull up and behind you until you feel the entire quadriceps muscle stretching. Reach up with your left hand, and stretch your entire body toward the ceiling while you pull up and behind you on your left ankle. You should feel a good stretch not only in your left quadriceps, but also throughout your trunk and uplifted hand. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat for other leg.
- Groin stretch: Sit down on the floor, and bring the soles of your feet together so your legs form a rhombus shape. Cross your fingers underneath your feet, and while leeping your back straight and head up, pull on your feet to bring them as close to your crotch as you can. You need to feel a stretch inside your leg. Trying to bring your knees closer to the floor also helps. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat.
- Hip stretch: Cross your fingers underneath your right knee, and pull it up toward your chest, as high as you can. You need to feel a stretch on the underside of your leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds, and then bring your leg back down. Repeat for other leg.
- Cross-legged stretch: I haven’t really seen this described anywhere, so I guess it’s something that I’ve come up with. Standing up straight, bring your right ankle up to your left hip, while the sole of your foot points upward. Pull up as high as it can go, and point your knee toward the floor, until the line formed by your leg is perpendicular to the floor. As you can keep your balance better, you can also try to twist your upper body toward you left hip. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then repeat for other leg.
That’s it! Shake your legs to relax the muscles, and you’re done.
These stretches are great during or after a day’s work on a chair. Your neck and shoulders get very tense, and they need to be relaxed. Do these stretches slowly, while breathing deeply. For each exercise, you should feel your neck muscles stretching, and you’re going to hear slight cracking noises as your vertebrae move with your muscles. If you hear clear cracking sounds, please do not continue the exercises, and go see a chiropractor!
I do have to warn you not to strain yourself when working with your neck. It’s a very delicate part of your body, and if you work it improperly, you could injure it permanently and run into chronic pain later on in your life. So be careful!
- Bend your head down and up, looking down at your chest, then up to the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times. Don’t force the bend, just concentrate on feeling a stretch in your muscles.
- Bend your head side to side as though you are going to touch your ears to your shoulder, all the while keeping your shoulders down. In other words, don’t shrug your shoulders, keep them down and back, with your chest out. Repeat 10-15 times for each side. Don’t force the bend, just concentrate on feeling a stretch in your mucles.
- Rotate your head from side to side in a circular motion.
- Cross your fingers behind your head, and extend your elbows toward an imaginary (or real) wall behind you. Hold for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply. Let your rib cage expand as you breathe deeply. Pull your elbows as far back as you can, and feel the stretch in your arms and chest.
- This exercise helps me relieve the stress at the base of my skull. Butt your head out above your chest while tensing up your neck muscles and keeping your chin high and out. If done correctly, you’ll feel tension all along the spinal cord in your neck, as the muscles press all of the vertebrae into their correct positions. You will also hear slight cracking noises. Move your head from side to side slightly (not too much!). Relax your neck muscles and bring your head back up into correct posture. Don’t do this last exercise too often, and don’t tense your neck muscles too much. You could hurt yourself with this exercise if you don’t do it right.
- Give yourself a quick neck massage by working the muscles along each side of your spinal column with the tips of your fingers. Do it slowly and delicately. You can also try to press along the base of your skull with your thumb. This may help people with migraines.
Now that you’re done, you hopefully feel much better and are ready to face the rest of your day!