KERRY HOWELL: Welcome. Thanks for joining us. My name's Kerry Howell. I work for Cornell University Wellness Program. And I'm going to be joined by TJ Massaro. We're both exercise physiologist. We're going to run through six different chair stretching exercises that you can do in almost any location. So join us and follow along.
This is a neck retraction exercise. We're going to repeat it five times and hold for five seconds each. TJ start by bringing your body into a proper alignment with the shoulders directly over the hips and the spine straight. The chin is going to retract directly back, and then hold that for five seconds. And then relax back forward again. And repeat. And relax back forward again.
Notice that during this for the next three of these cycles, he maintains that proper alignment and spinal position while drawing the chin directly back and then relaxing it again to the forward position. Last repetition. And then back.
This is the spine retraction stretching exercise. TJ's going to start by bringing the spine into the proper position, straight up and down. Then he's going to bring his hands around the back. He's going to stack his palms one on top of the other with palms facing towards the ceiling. Or he can have his hands separated. Whatever is most comfortable for you.
Next, he's going to intentionally draw his shoulder blades in towards the center and hold that retraction while expanding and stretching the muscles in the chest area. He's going to hold that stretch for 20 seconds, maintaining nice even breath. Then he's going to relax back into a standard still spine straight up and down position and relax for just a couple of seconds. And then resume that stretch by drawing the shoulder blades in towards the spine for the contraction.
And this expands the chest muscle and allows that to stretch. Holding this again for a total of 20 seconds, allowing the elbows to come in towards the center of the spine. If you picture a sponge between the shoulder blades, he's squeezing that sponge. And then relax back.
This is the abdominal stretching exercise. We're going to start with proper spinal alignment. Sitting up nice and tall, hands come around the low back area on either side. Gentle pushing in with the hands on the lower back area while you hollow out the low back, and draw the shoulders back towards me, and bring the chin slightly up. And hold this for about 20 seconds. Breathing nice and slow and controlled.
If you'd like to, you can breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Whatever you're most comfortable with. Relaxing back into the start position, take a few seconds pause, and then we'll stretch the abdominal or stomach area again. Placing the hands on the low back area, tipping the hips slightly forward, the hip bones hollowing out the back, allowing the abdominal area to controlled manner, slouch forward and expand into a stretch. Holding for a total of 20 seconds. And then relaxing back into the forward position.
T-spine rotations. TJ stand straight up, place your hands behind your hands, interlaced fingers, elbows directly out from the sides. You're going to start by gently rotating to the left side. Hold. Dip to the side. Come back up to a straight spine. And then twist a little bit more.
Dip. Come back up. And a third time, dip, and back up. Now, back towards center. Repeat on the opposite side turning towards the right. This exercise is great for increasing the flexibility and the mobility in the spinal area and in the hip area. And back towards center.
The hamstring stretch. We're going to show you this today, two legs fully extended. You can also do this with one leg fully extended. TJ is going to start with the spine straight up, legs fully extended out in front, feet are flexed, toes pointing up towards the ceiling.
You're going to take both hands and slowly bend from the hips without rounding the back and bending forward to the point where he feels the tension in the back of his legs, the hamstring region. Going to hold that stretch for a total of 20 seconds. Breathing in and breathing out. Breathing in and breathing out.
Return back to the start position, lowering their hands and relaxing the feet and legs. Pause for a few seconds, and then repeat that stretch. Both legs fully extended. Straight spine. Hands out in front. And bending from the hip area.
You'll often notice that the second time you repeat a flexibility exercise, you're able to get a little bit closer or a little more of a stretch. That's normal and that's the point of doing the stretching. Try to relax the body while maintaining a straight spine. And continue to hold that for a total of 20 seconds. And resume back to the relaxed start position.
Ankle mobility and stretching exercise. Back straight up. Raise the right knee off of the ground a few inches. And start by making small circles with the ankle, maintaining no contact with the ground. Do about five rotations one way and then switch. And do about five rotations the other way.
And then place the foot back on the ground. Lift the opposite knee, the left knee off of the ground. And start with ankle rotations. You can start with small rotations and then increase them to a larger circle. Whatever you're comfortable with. And then rotate towards the other side.
This helps to increase the circulation in the ankle area and increases the flexibility. And then resume back to your start position.
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Try these six flexibility exercises to reduce tightness and stress that has gathered throughout your whole body. These exercises are all designed to be performed while you are seated and supported by a chair. Take a few minutes to stretch the muscles that are tight and tighten the muscles that are too loose from repeatedly doing work or school tasks such as typing on a computer, reading through books, and texting on your mobile devices. Kerry and TJ, exercise physiologists from Cornell Wellness, will lead you through six stretches including: Neck Retractions, Shoulder Blade Retractions, Abdominal Stretch, T-Spine Rotations, Hamstring Stretch, and Ankle Mobility.