Physiological effect for stretching
Static postures results in muscle imbalance. This occurs because of the demands of the posture, your body type, strength of the muscle and the muscle type. As a result of repetitive usage patterns, some muscles become tighter than normal whilst other muscles are inhibited and become weaker.
With stretching we are attempting to lengthen the tight muscles. With holding and contraction we are attempting to fatigue the tight muscles. With exercises we are attempting to strengthen muscles.
For maximum effect, stretch only to a comfortable point and hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeating the stretch 3-5 times enhances the effect further.
For maximum effect during strength exercises controlled deliberate movements will maximise the effect. Repeating the exercise routine 10-15 times will further enhance the effect.
Please remember that consistency, challenge and repetition will change muscle physiology. It takes at least 6 weeks of exercise to begin to have an effect.
Upper body stretch and rehab routine
The below exercise are to be used as a prescription only. Please use them under the direction and advice of an appropriately trained professional.
Forearm extensor stretch: seated or standing. Straighten elbow bend wrist so that fingers point to the floor. Grasp fingers with the opposite hand and pull towards your body. Hold stretch for 20 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Forearm flexor stretch: seated or standing. Straighten elbow bend wrist so that fingers point to the ceiling. Grasp fingers with the opposite hand and pull towards your body. Hold stretch for 20 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Warnings: do not do this stretch if suffering from wrist or elbow injuries unless prescribed
Shoulder shrugs: seated or standing. Elevate shoulders towards ears. Hold for 6 seconds. Repeat 10 times
Chin tucks: seated standing or lying. Draw head back without changing the position of the chin. Repeat 6 times. Note: Do not retract to the point of creating a double chin. This is a subtle exercise designed to activate the deep muscles at the front of the neck.
This is a great reset to your posture and should be done as a correction throughout the day.
Sit forward in your chair and tuck your chin in and sit tall. Separate your knees. Drop your shoulders and turn your arms from your shoulders so that the palms face up. Squeeze your shoulder blades gently together whilst spreading your fingers. Hold this pose for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times. With chronic postural weakness, repeat hourly during the course of the day
Beginning position 1
Ending position 1
This is a basic but effective neck stretch. Begin by sitting tall. Place one hand under your buttock to anchor the
shoulder and reach over with the other hand to stretch the neck. Vary the placement on the head to achieve a stretch in different parts of the neck. Remember don’t stretch into pain.
Pec Stretch anchor hand against a door frame and rotate torso. Elbow may be bent or straight SCM stretch. Drop the hand down by your side and turn your head to the opposite side and slightly bend the neck toward the side you have turned Up trap/scalene stretch: sit on your hand and reach over with the other hand & pull your ear to your shoulder. Variation: pull forward and down.
Beginning position – breathing in
Ending position – breathing out
This breathing exercise is designed to focus on introducing thoracic and rib movement. With many poor seated postures the ribs and mid back become inhibited in their normal movement and thus increase the work load on the neck and lower back.
Begin in a comfortable lying position with knees bent. Place one hand across your belly and the other across the chest. Attempt to fill the abdomen as you breathe, thus lifting the belly hand. The hand over the chest should remain still until very late into the inhale. You should also feel the back into the floor and your sides expand as you breathe in. You may alternatively wrap your fingers under the ribs and around the sides so as to feel the abdomen, sides and back move. Repeat 10 times. This exercise can also be done seated whilst at your work desk.
Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing is the most efficient and correct way to breath. Due to prolonged posture, correct use of the diaphragm can be compromised. This lead to more chest based breathing which can place an increase in muscle activity in the neck and also the lower back leading to neck and low back pain. Whilst incorrect breathing isn’t the root of all evil, it is a critical first point in rehabilitation in many muscular skeletal ailments.
Method: sitting or lying: place your hands on your lower ribs so that your thumbs are on your back and your fingers on your abdomen. Proper breathing involves expansion in the abdomen on inhalation. Your hands should also move to the side and a small movement in your thumbs. This activates proper diaphragm function.
The cat/camel stretch is used to mobilize a stiff mid back. It is commonly applied to desk based postures.
Method: active TVA muscles gentle push through hands knees and feet; keep knees pushing inwards but not together; maintain abdominal breathing and arch back on expiration.
The Pectorals stretch is designed to stretch open the front of the chest. This exercise is very applicable in all desk based occupations. When done correctly, the stretch will be felt more across the chest and less into the shoulder.
Method: stand or seated against a wall or door jam. Straighten arm and anchor the shoulder blade to the back of the thoracic spine. A forward movement through the chest rather than the shoulder will isolate the stretch. Make sure the chin is tucked in.