The importance of stretching to maintain flexibility and overall health is often understated. While many individuals attribute muscle soreness or tightness to old age or pre-existing injuries, the truth is, muscle tightness can easily be avoided with a few simple stretches during your morning routine. Not only will daily stretching aid in injury prevention, it will also help you increase your range of motion and overall level of flexibility.

At Rawlins County Health Center, we’re dedicated to helping residents in Atwood, Kansas and the surrounding areas maintain an optimal level of health and wellness. Throughout this article, we’ll talk about four easy stretches you can implement into your morning routine to increase your range of motion and improve your quality of life. Through consistent stretching, you’ll begin to notice a decrease in injuries while introducing a sense of calm and wellbeing into your life.  

Neck Stretch

Do you experience general tightness or soreness throughout your neck upon waking? Does your job require you to look at a screen for an extended period of time? If so, an easy neck stretch can help loosen tight muscles that cause discomfort to your neck. While sitting in a comfortable position, gently bring your left ear to your left shoulder and hold the stretch for 20 seconds. This will effectively provide a deep stretch to the right side of your neck. Alternatively, to stretch the left side of your neck, bring your right ear to your right shoulder and hold for 20 seconds. While holding this stretch, you may feel your neck begin to loosen up. If possible, gently work the stretch deeper as your muscles loosen, but be mindful not to extend your stretch too far. While a deep stretch may feel very relaxing, it is important not to stretch past your body’s level of flexibility as injury may occur.

Lying Spinal Twist

If you sit for long periods of time, or wake up from an uncomfortable night of sleep with radiating back pain, the lying spinal twist will help relieve muscle tension and soreness felt throughout your back. The lying spinal twist is an easy, yet effective, stretch that requires little effort and provides excellent relief. While lying on your back on the ground, gently lift your right leg towards the ceiling and begin to let it fall slowly over your left side. While your right leg hangs over the left side of your body, slowly turn your head towards the right side. This will maximize the benefits of the lying spinal twist by deepening the stretch felt throughout the back while fully rotating and stretching your spine. Continue to slowly deepen the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds while your back muscles continue loosening. Slowly bring your right leg back towards the ceiling and then gently place it back on the ground. Repeat the same stretch with your left leg while turning your head towards your left side. The lying spinal twist will help stretch your lower back muscles while relieving sciatic pain caused by excessive sitting.

Standing Forward Bend

If you are susceptible to leg or back pain from extended periods of sitting, you could benefit from an easy standing forward bend. The standing forward bend is a simple stretch designed to increase your overall level of flexibility while deeply stretching your hamstrings and calves. Begin by standing with your feet at hip width and then slowly begin bending at the waist towards your toes. Let your upper body continue to hang while deepening your stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Be mindful to exhale while moving into your stretch, as this will make it easier to deepen your stretch naturally, reducing your risk of injury. After holding the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, begin slowly returning to a standing position so as not to cause a rush of lightheadedness from standing up too quickly. Repeat the standing forward bend for up to five repetitions while relaxing in between each stretch.

Lying Chin Tuck

If you suffer from forward head posture, you probably experience many aches and pains around your suboccipital muscles. Fortunately, by doing lying chin tucks daily, you can improve the strength of your neck while increasing your overall range of motion. Lying chin tucks help strengthen your front neck muscles, known as neck flexors, while also stretching your suboccipital muscles. To perform a lying chin tuck, begin by lying on the ground or in bed and gently lift your head while tucking your chin towards your chest. Hold this stretch for two to three seconds, then gently bring your head back to its resting position. If you aren’t used to this particular stretch, you may notice your neck begin to tremble. This is completely normal, and is due to your neck flexors not being used often enough. In simpler terms, a neck tremble simply indicates that you’re neck flexors are turning back on. Repeat the lying chin tuck for up to 10 repetitions, and then rest. With consistent stretching, lying chin tucks will help increase neck strength while improving your neck’s range of motion.

Are you located in Atwood, Kansas or its surrounding areas and are in need of quality care? Visit our friendly staff at Rawlins County Health Center! We provide a wide variety of services to our patients such as physical therapy, emergency care at our 24-hour emergency room, and so much more. To learn more about our full list of services we provide, contact Rawlins County Health Center today!