Tell me the great stretches, the ones that have not received their due.
December 16, 2004 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Mudpuppie posted a great stretch for your back a few questions ago. So what are your favorite stretches...? What really helps your tired or sore muscles feel better?

After a long run, this one is great for the calf:
- stand opposite a wall and place both hands against it
- place one foot slightly in front of the other
- gradually lower yourself straight down until you feel the pull on the bottom of the calf muscle of your rear leg
- hold it for ten seconds. Swop legs and repeat
posted by humuhumu to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Eagle pose from yoga helps get that space between the shoulder blades that I can never get any other way, in addition to feeling great for my hips.

I'm also a fan of lying on my back, drawing my knees up to my chest, and then letting my bent legs fall wide open (supported by my hands) for a great hip-opening stretch.

(My, but we're sounding old today. Cracking joints, sore muscles.... )
posted by occhiblu at 12:56 PM on December 16, 2004

Despite being young, I had constant pain in my upper back joints until I started using Nautilus pull-down machines that seemed to encourage space between the joints. (Lifting barbells, on the other hand, caused really bad problems)
posted by inksyndicate at 12:58 PM on December 16, 2004

I like the figure-four stretch.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 1:06 PM on December 16, 2004

Best back stretch I've found:
- lie down, legs straight.
- bring one leg up to your chest then slowly lengthen it (keeping it a few inches above the floor) until you are pointing your toes forward (you should feel the stretch on the top of your foot and the back of your calf)
- slowly push your ankle forward and tilt your toes back until you feel the muscle at the top of your calf stretch. Slowly lower that leg to the ground and relax it.
- repeat on your other leg. This time, as you lower that leg down, you should feel the muscles in the bottom of your back start to relax and feel like they're sinking down...

Feels great for a stiff back...
posted by humuhumu at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2004

When "regular" stretching doesn't quite get all of the kinks out, I like to use a Pilates styrofoam tube to stretch my back. I lay it on the floor and then lay lengthwise on it, so my spine is totally supported. This support allows my back muscles to relax. I'll do this for 10-15 minutes, then lay flat on the floor for another 5-10 minutes, and I'm relaxed for the rest of the night.
posted by vignettist at 1:14 PM on December 16, 2004

Despite being young, my posture, the 12 hours or more I spend hunched over a laptop each day, and general lack of routine physical activity result in near constant aches and pains and frequent agony. I favor ice and lots of ibuprofen to soothe my pain.
posted by Grod at 1:14 PM on December 16, 2004

despite being young ,
posted by Grod at 1:17 PM on December 16, 2004

Grod - do you have the space or ability to plug an external monitor into your laptop? They can play hell with your neck and back. Stick a spare monitor into the display socket and put it at eye level if you can.
posted by humuhumu at 1:26 PM on December 16, 2004

I love the "Trunk Rotation Stretch" on this page, the "Standing Side Stretch" on this page, "Back Stretch" from this page, and this forearm stretch.

(These are just pictures I found online, not the sites where I originally learned these stretches.)
posted by callmejay at 1:35 PM on December 16, 2004

This works wonders for people who carry their extra weight primarily in their belly and, as a result, experience lower back pain.

Stand against a wall. Your upper back will touch the wall, but your lower back won't because it curves inward. All you have to do is shift your weight backwards so that your lower back, your upper back, and your butt all touch the wall at the same time. To put it simply, you're straightening your back. The thing is, in order to do it, you have to rotate your hips backwards in a way to which your body is not accustomed. The massage therapist who taught me this maneuver instructed me thusly: "Imagine your hips are a bowl of milk. You want to tip the bowl over backwards and pour the milk out." (Yes, people usually laugh at me when I tell them that part). On your first attempt, you'll find the movement somewhere between awkward and impossible. That's why the standing-against-the-wall exercise may be necessary at first; it's a simple way of re-training your muscles. I had to repeat the procedure a number of times over the course of several days, but eventually, I was rewarded with a series of glorious lower back pops and cracks. Now, I can pop my lower back pretty much whenever I want, simply standing in place. This has saved me countless visits to the chiropractor and gone a long way towards relieving my nagging lower back pain.
posted by Clay201 at 2:48 PM on December 16, 2004

Tai Chi gets all of my kinks out. Particularly the "brush knee" and "repulse monkey" sequences and "fan through back" is awesome for creating space between the shoulder blades. Need a bit of room though, so it might not be good for the office.

Translations and style may be different so I won't bother linking to examples. Possibly meaningless without them though. I'm sorry, I'm just not a Tai Chi scholar.

Take it from me though, 12 weeks ago I couldn't touch my ankles, let alone my toes (I've always been extrmely inflexible). I can now, with a bit of a warm up, easily touch the floor between my feet, my posture is much better, and my walking gait has smoothed out. It feels great.
posted by C.Batt at 2:52 PM on December 16, 2004

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