Below are descriptions of stretches that will help to loosen muscles, decrease soreness, and prevent injury by increasing flexibility. These stretches should be done slowly and without any jerking movements. You should feel a slight stretching in the target muscle. Do not stretch to the point of pain and if a stretch is particularly uncomfortable please cease until you have seen a medical professional. Also if you have an injury please consult with Dr.Petrie before beginning the stretches. The goal of these stretches is to work your way up to holding each stretch for about 30 seconds and to repeat the stretches three times each. If you can not hold the stretch for the full 30 seconds, try to hold it for 10 seconds and gradually work your way to 30 seconds while still repeating each stretch three times.
Calf Stretch: Find a sturdy wall that you are able to lean on. Put both palms at shoulder height on the wall (like you are trying to push it over). Your feet should be hip width apart. Next bring one leg forward so that it is slightly bent and around 2 feet away from the wall. Your back leg should now be straight and a comfortable distance behind your front leg. The goal is to have your heel flat on the ground and feel a slight stretch in your back calf muscle.
If you do not have a wall you can do this stretch with a towel. Loop the towel underneath the balls of the foot that you want to stretch, then gently pull up on the two ends of the towel. This should produce the same stretch of the calf muscle.
You can also sit on the floor for this stretch with the leg you want to stretch straight out and the other leg relaxed and bent at the knee with the foot resting touching the knee of the stretched leg.
Glute Stretch: The glute stretch should be done sitting on the floor with the relaxed leg straight out in front of you, touching the ground. Then take the leg that you wish to stretch and cross it over the relaxed leg, bending the leg you are stretching at the knee. The sole of the bent leg should be touching the ground. Next wrap your arms around the bent leg (It should seem like you are giving your leg a hug) and gently pull your leg towards your body while keeping the sole of your foot on the ground. Once you begin to feel a stretch in your glutes, stop pulling the leg closer and hold it for 30 seconds.
Hamstring Stretch: For this stretch you will be seated on the floor. The leg that you want to stretch should be out straight, the other leg should be bent and the foot should be resting touching the knee of the stretched leg. Next you want to bend forward directly over the straight leg and glide your fingertips towards your toes trying to reach for your toes (if you can not reach for your knee, your ankle, etc). You should feel a stretch in the back of your leg. It is important with this exercise to not bounce to try to reach further, this will cause injury. Make sure that it is a slow movement and that you do not try to overstretch.
Hip Flexor Stretch: The easiest and most comfortable way to stretch your hip flexors is on a cushioned surface such as a padded mat.
First take a big step forward so that you are in a stance resembling a lunge. Slightly bend the front knee and place your hands on it for support. If it is comfortable, drop your back knee to the ground, if not, keep the back leg straight and the knee off of the ground (it can have a slight bend in it). Then, while keeping your upper body and hips straight push your hips forward. You should feel the stretch in the hip of the leg that is behind you.
Lower Back Stretch: There are two different ways to do this lower back stretch.
For the first you will be seated in a chair (rolling chairs are not a good idea for this stretch) with your feet hip width apart and planted firmly on the ground. While keeping your bottom, hips, and legs, in place, bend your upper body forward in the chair towards the ground (like you are trying to touch the floor). If you can touch the floor then place your palms on the floor for 30 seconds, if you can not reach the floor then try placing your hands on your knees to stretch, or place a sturdy object such as a stool between your feet and place your hands there until you can work up to touching the ground.
For the second stretching option you will be lying on a flat padded surface (such as a yoga mat) on your back. Next bend both of your knees and draw them up towards your chest while wrapping your arms around your knees (hug your knees). You also want to tuck your chin to your chest so that your neck is relaxed. You should feel like you are imitating a porcupine curled up in a ball. Hold the curled up ball position and then slowly release your legs to relax.
Shoulder Stretch: There are two different shoulder stretches that are beneficial, for both you will be standing.
For the first stretch simply take on arm and put it straight across your body at chest level (your right arm should be stretched across your body to your left arm, and vice versa) Next you want to grab your stretched out arm right above the elbow with your free arm. Gently pull your straight arm towards your body. This should produce a slight stretch in the front part of your shoulder.
The second stretch should be done at a wall. Put the arm you wish to stretch on the wall with your palm, forearm, and elbow touching the wall, elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. Your arm should be slightly behind the rest of your body. Now gently lean the rest of your body forward while keeping the arm you are stretching still on the wall. This stretch is also important to make sure that you only feel a slight stretch and are not over stretching.
Quadriceps Stretch: The quad stretch should be done standing with one hand on a wall or steady object to balance. Stand with your feet and legs touching. Next bend the leg you want to stretch at the knee and bring your leg back behind you (like you are trying to kick yourself in the buttocks). Next take the hand corresponding to the leg you wish to stretch and grab hold of the top of that foot (right hand to right foot, left hand to left foot) with the goal being to bring your foot all the way to your buttocks and hold it there for 30 seconds. You want to make sure that your leg from the hip to the knee is straight under your body and not at an angle (holding your leg at an angle could injure your knee). If you are looking for a mental picture this stretch should remind you of a flamingo with one leg straight down and one leg bent close to their body.