Stretching warms and cools down muscles, protects ligaments, and reduces chance of injury. Few people realize that stretching itself can be a form of exercise. This is especially true if you are recovering from surgery, a previous injury, or otherwise cannot perform a full exercise routine. After rehabilitation from surgery, you will want to continue your exercises at home and build on the routine slowly.
Before starting an exercise program, including stretches at home, please consult your doctor. These simple stretches can be used to build and strengthen muscles. If you haven’t been through rehab, but have suffered from carpal tunnel, arthritis pain, or conditions such as tennis elbow, be sure to speak with your doctor. A daily stretching routine might be what you need to ease your symptoms.
1. Towel Twist
Sit in a chair. Hold a dry towel with both hands in front of you and relax your shoulders. Twist the towel away from you and then toward you. Repeat 10 times in both directions.
This stretching exercise is perfect for tennis elbow and carpal tunnel. It strengthens the muscles in the forearms. It can be done anywhere, even if you only have a few minutes of time.
2. Seated March
Sit in a stable chair. Place your feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart. Raise your right knee as high as you can without pain. Slowly lower it to the floor. Repeat the process with your left knee. Aim for eight raises per knee and if possible, perform two sets.
This stretch is excellent for working the hip flexors, and it also adds a little cardio to your routine.
3. Torso Stretch
Sit in a stable chair. Place your feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart. Put your hands behind your head with elbows extended to the sides. Alternatively, you may wish to cross your arms over your chest or leave them hanging loose at your sides. Bending at the waist, lean to the right and hold for five seconds. Be sure to keep your head and neck facing forward. Repeat on the left side. Do this stretch eight times per side, and if possible, perform a second set.
This stretch works your abdominal muscles. It can also relieve minor cramping and ease lower back pain. In addition, the stretch will build strength in your core.
4. Torso Twist
Sit in a stable chair. Place your feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart. Like above, put your hands behind your head with elbows extended to the sides or cross your arms over your chest or leave them hanging loose at your sides. Gently twist from your waist and guide your body to the right. Your head and neck should also follow.
It is important to take your time and not push too hard. You are building stamina, muscle, strength, and flexibility. Don’t risk re-injury or further injury. Worse, you might injure a new muscle.