Introduction Stretching: The deliberate lengthening of muscles in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. Stretching helps warm up the body prior to activity thus decreasing the risk of injury as well as muscle soreness. Stretching benefits people of all ages, and is intended for the young as well as the elderly population.
Purpose: Increased flexibility and joint range-of-motion Flexible muscles permit drivers to move their entire body and all joints more freely to observe the road from all angles. According to AAA, this can help alert you to potential hazards in unexpected areas on the road and with many driving requirements such as: Braking Getting in and out of the car Looking to the side and rear Steering Parking Adjusting safety belts Sitting for long periods
Purpose: Increased flexibility and joint range of motion Increased flexibility and joint range of motion also help with other things you do on a daily basis like bending, lifting or rushing to catch an elevator about to close.
Purpose: Improved circulation Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles bringing nourishment and helping the body rid itself of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue. Improved circulation can help shorten your recovery time if you’ve had any muscle injuries.
Purpose: Better posture Frequent stretching can help keep your muscles from getting tight, allowing you to maintain proper posture. Good posture can minimize discomfort and keep aches and pains at a minimum.
Purpose: Stress relief & enhanced coordination Stretching relaxes tight, tense muscles that often accompany stress. Maintaining the full range-of-motion through your joints keeps you in better balance. Coordination and balance will help keep you mobile and less prone to injury from falls, especially as you get older.
Guidelines Warm up before stretching – warm tissues are much easier to stretch than cold and are less likely to tear. Stretch slowly— a couple gentle, sustained stretches will give you better results than numerous quick stretches. Don’t bounce—bouncing and jerking actually cause the muscles to tense, and tearing of muscle fibers can occur. Do not stretch to the point of pain—a strong pull should be felt, but not pain. Always stretch when you begin and finish a vigorous activity such as playing sports, jogging, etc. Tissues will be warm and more easily stretched.
1 Whole body stretch with deep breathing From a standing position, move to the balls (toes) of your feet, and raise both arms above your head, like you are reaching for the sky. Take deep breaths with the chest expanding and stomach coming in. Hold breath and count to 5 as you stretch. Exhale. Repeat 2-3 times.
2 Groin & upper leg stretch From a standing width, bend knees and place hands on thighs just above knees. Slowly move body sideways keeping the opposite leg straight. Move right and then left holding each position to a count of 15. Repeat 2-3 times for each side.
3 Thigh, groin, and calf stretch From a standing position take one giant step forward, toes pointed straight ahead. Bend the front knee while the back leg remains straight, and shift forward as much as possible Keep both feet flat on the floor. Hold for a count of 15. Repeat alternately with other leg.
4 Thigh and upper leg stretch Place one hand on wall in front of you and grasp the opposite foot from behind with the opposite hand. Keep your knees together and your trunk upright. Hold abdominal muscles tight. Pull foot gently toward the shoulder or upper back. Hold to a count of 15. Relax and repeat with the opposite leg. Repeat twice for each leg.
5 Low back stretch (back and leg) Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Bend forward from the waist, moving your shoulders and head toward knees. Hold for a 10-15 count. Relax, and repeat 3 times. As you become more flexible, your shoulders and head will stretch further toward the floor. Hold. Return to standing position.
6 Runner’s ham stretch (back of leg) Step forward with your left foot. Bend right knee slightly. Keeping the heel of the left foot on the ground, raise the toes of left foot off the floor. Keep your chest and head up. You should feel a strong pull in the back of your left thigh. Hold for a count of 15. Relax. Repeat on the other side. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.
7 Low back and trunk stretch Place feet slightly apart, keeping arms relaxed at sides. Keep your pelvis level and facing forward. Turn upper body slowly to the right, then slowly to the left. Repeat 2-3 times in each direction.
8 Low back and trunk stretch Stand with feet slightly apart. Place hands on the back of your pelvis. Slowly bend backwards as far as you comfortably can. Repeat 3-4 times.
9 Upper torso stretch With arms extended overhead, grab one hand with the other. Slowly bend sideways at the waist. Move body slowly sideways. Hold for a 15 count. Repeat with opposite side. Repeat 3 times on each side.
10 Shoulder circles From a standing position with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, slowly swing both arms in a circle. Circle forward a few times, then repeat moving arms backward.
11 Arm crossovers Hold arms out stretched to the side near shoulder height. Inhale and cross arms in front while slowly exhaling. Repeat 4-5 times.
12 Upper torso and shoulders From a standing position, clasp hands behind your back with your arms straight. As you take a deep breath, pull arms upward with your neck moving backward. Hold position and exhale slowly. Repeat 4 times.
13 Neck stretch and roll Stand with arms at your sides, move left side of head toward left shoulder and hold for 10-15 counts. Repeat for the right side. Also to the front and back. Do 2-3 cycles. Stand with arms at your sides, roll your head slowly 3-5 times to the right, and then to the left.
Have a great day and DRIVE SAFELY! Special thanks to the City of Austin Resource and Recovery Department for sharing the Stretch-N-Go program..