Let’s keep the holiday train rolling along. In Part 1, we discussed just getting moving more using dynamic warm-ups. If you did not check it out yet, you can peruse at your leisure at http://www.ebmfitnesssolutions.com/blog/howtodominatetheholidayspart1.

In Part 2, we are going to look at a bunch of different stretches that you can utilize to avoid ending up a complete ball of stress and knots come January.

You can also find all of these original posts on either Facebook or Instagram.

crushing the holidays.jpg

1/2 kneeling hip flexor stretch

A lot of sitting is not a good thing. A lot of muscles and joints can get tight as a result. One of those muscles in the hip flexor. Add this stretch anywhere it fits into your day. If you sit a lot at work, try squeezing this stretch into your workday somewhere, if possible.

Start in a half kneeling position with the knee down on the hip you intend to stretch. Set up next to something you can use for balance or grab a foam roller. There are three steps to focus on. Each is built on the previous one.

Dynamic hip adductor stretch

Your adductors (inner part of the thigh) can be tight and not always present as a problem. I used to notice a lot of muscle soreness in these muscles after I squatted during a workout. Since I started stretch a bit more (and modified my stance) I no longer have any problem.

Start in a quadruped position (hands and knees) and straighten one leg out to the side. Rock back and slightly away from the leg that is straight. Stop when you feel a mild to moderate stretch in the inner part of the thigh. Hold this position briefly.

Spiderman stretch

This video contains three videos. The second and third are progressions from the first. Start with the first video and go from there.

This is one of my favorite stretches and might be one of the best in terms of getting a lot done with one movement.

NOTE. If you are unsure about this one or are not comfortable performing it on the floor, it can be done at a bit of an incline (using a bench at a gym or the couch or bed at home).

Do not force any part of the movement. Go with watchya got. You will feel this in the front if the hip on the back leg and into the butt on the leg that is forward.

This is an excellent movement for mobilizing and stretching the hips. Start with the first position and progress to the others as needed. Remember, focus on a mild-to-moderate intensity in the hip and glute area when performing these. Start in a pushup position. Bring one leg forward to the outside of the arm.

Quadruped glute stretch

Stretching the glutes is often necessary to relieve said tightness in the hip and/or low back areas. The problem is that many stretches that target the glutes and deep hip rotators require a lot of torque on the knee and excessive twisting of the spine. If only there was a better way.......

The quadruped glute stretch solves these issues. It allows a good stretch through your tight butt, but it does not torque the knee or twist the spine. Halle-freaking-lujah!

Set up on your hands and knees, with the shoulders over the hands and your knees together. The leg you want to stretch will not move. Move the other leg to the outside and try to put your knee down on the other side of the stretch leg.

Standing hamstring stretch

Stretching the hamstrings is one of the more common stretches people perform and probably the one most commonly butchered. Do not worry. It is probably not your fault you are terrible at it. I have discussed this very idea before (http://www.ebmfitnesssolutions.com/blog/properhamstringstretch).

Most people set up wrong and move too much when trying to stretch the hamstrings. Quick anatomy lesson. The hamstrings (there are 3) run from the bottom of the butt to the sides of the knee. Lesson over.

If you are stretching the hamstrings and you feel pulling in your calf, something in your head should light up as you remember the hamstrings stop at the knee.

Do you know what does go all the way down the back of the thigh and into the calf? Your SCIATIC NERVE. Yup, that burning you feel in the calf when stretching your hamstrings is neural tension.

This one is big time. Most people stretch their hamstrings incorrectly. By doing so, they do not stretch the hamstrings at all and they tension and irritate their sciatic nerve. [gulp]

Ankle mobilizations

When your ankles do not move like they need to, it is only a matter of time until you have issues with some other part of the body. It could be your knee, hip or back and it could even be on the opposite of the tight ankle.

You can stretch muscles regularly but if the joint these muscles act on is restricted or tight, then all that stretching will still leave you will a restricted or tight joint. If only there was a better way.......

Dorsiflexion mobilizations solve both joint and muscles issues at the same time. Shut. The. Front. Door.

Lack of ankle mobility is problematic and can be a contributing factor to pain in not just the foot and ankle, but also the knee, hip, and low back. In most cases, it is a loss of dorsiflexion (pulling the foot up towards the knee) that causes the issues.

Standing thoracic mobility

Our thoracic spine (that juicy piece of real estate between the neck and low back) needs to have good mobility. Sadly, it is stiff as bamboo in most people.

Some of the issues that result are:

-tightness in the upper back

-difficulty sleeping

-difficulty turning the head and neck

-pain when turning the head


-decreased shoulder range of motion

-shoulder pain

None of those things are any good. And if you try and treat those issues without dealing with the thoracic spine, you will never get complete resolution of the symptoms.

Stand in front of a bar (or another surface that is stable and will not move - kitchen counters also work great for this). Walk the feet back, perform a hip hinge and pivot forward until you feel so resistance to the movement in the thoracic spine. Hold this position for 5-6 seconds.

Standing quad stretch

If your thighs (quads) are truly tight, I suggest using something to rest your foot on instead of grabbing the leg to stretch the quad. I also suggest using rollers or something to maintain balance. Squirmy and hopping around trying to maintain your balance makes you look ridiculous and isn't helpful. You're not at the club.

This setup also allows you to lean forward, which will help to get the leg onto the bench. If your quads are tight, this is a big deal.

Once the leg is on the bench, stand tall. This may give you enough of a quad stretch. If so, just hang out here. If not, squeeze your butt muscles on the side of the stretch. This will definitely give you a better stretch in the quad.

This is a great alternative to grabbing the leg to stretch the thigh. Make sure you have something to help with your balance. At home, it could be the back of a chair or something like that. Leaning forward and using the rollers for balance makes it very easy to get into the stretch position.

Standing lat stretch

This stretch just feels good to do. But, it also serves some greater functionality too. Bonus!

The lats run from the low back (a fancy area know as the thoracolumbar fascia - I swear that is not a made up word) up to the upper arm. So, when they are tight they can impact both the low back and shoulder areas.

If you lift both arms overhead and find that you low back arches more as your arms get higher, you lats may be tight. There may be other things at play too, but stretching your lats is an easy first step, it feels good and you are not going to damage anything trying this one.

Grab on to something that you trust won't shift or move. Grab at shoulder height or a little below shoulder-height. Sit back, keeping the elbow straight, spine neutral and looking towards the floor. You should feel a stretch along the side of the arm you are hanging on with.

Well, there you have it. Part 2 gives you a bunch of options that you can apply to start getting your pain-free body back so you can get back to doing things that currently cause you pain.

If you have not done so yet, download your 7-Day Strength and Mobility Reboot. This guide takes stretches like these (and others) and gives you a specific 7-day plan on how to integrate them.

You would be crazy not to grab a copy.

7-Day Strength and Mobility Reboot

Until next time,

Dr. Tom

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