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Issue Date: August 7, 2005
In this article:
Upper body stretches
Core stretches
Also:
Lower body stretches
Ask Jorge Cruise a fitness question!
Visit Jorge's Web site
Fitness with Jorge Cruise

SAVE THIS POSTER -- JORGE'S STRETCHES FOR YOU

FitSmart Contributing Editor Jorge Cruise created this full-body stretching program just for our readers. Stretching increases flexibility and promotes good health. Do each stretch 5 to 7 times per week and you'll feel a difference in how your body moves.

OVERALL INSTRUCTIONS:
For all standing stretches, stand with feet hip distance apart and pointing straight ahead, shoulders rolled back and down, eyes looking forward. For seated stretches, always start out sitting tall, shoulders rolled back and down, facing straight ahead. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, and continue to breathe throughout the move. For optimal results, it's important to continue sending oxygen to your muscles while stretching.

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UPPER BODY

OVERHEAD GRAB (BACK OF ARM/TRICEPS)
Overhead grab
Standing, lift right arm straight up and drop forearm back so elbow remains next to your ear. Reach up with left arm and grab right elbow, gently pulling back past ear. Hold. Switch arms.
CHIN TUCK (BACK OF NECK)

Chin tuck
Drop chin to chest, place hands on back of head with fingers interlaced, elbows out. Increase the stretch by gently pulling head down. Keep shoulders relaxed. Hold. Drop hands and roll head up.
HEAD DROP (FRONT OF NECK)
Head drop
While seated, let head slowly fall back while keeping posture tall, shoulders down and relaxed. Roll head to the right and hold. Roll head to the left and hold.
KNEE GRAB (UPPER BACK)
Knee grab
From standing position, bend knees slightly, and bend forward at the hips. Let head drop, and lace fingers together behind knees. Roll shoulders forward, round back, pull abdominal muscles in, and pull up toward ceiling. Hold. Release hands and slowly roll up to standing position.
SHOULDER DROP (SIDE OF NECK/TRAPEZIUS)
Shoulder drop
Standing with arms at sides, flex right hand, drop right shoulder, let left ear drop toward left shoulder -- you should feel the stretch in the right side of your neck. Hold. Switch sides.
LEAN-IN (CHEST/PECTORALS)
Lean in
In a doorway, raise elbows to shoulder height, palms forward. Bend elbows to 90-degree angles, and place forearms on either side of doorway. Keep abs tight; don't arch back. Lean forward.
WALL STRETCH (FRONT OF ARM/BICEPS)
Wall stretch
Standing, place left palm on a wall about shoulder height. Press forearm, inner elbow and shoulder against the wall, and slowly turn your body away from the wall. Hold. Switch arms.

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CORE

THE PRETZEL (LOWER BACK)
Pretzel
Sit on the floor with legs extended in front. Bend left knee and cross over right leg to place left foot on the outside of right knee. Sitting tall, turn torso to the left. Place right elbow and forearm along outside left knee and along left thigh to gently push torso farther into twist. Hold. Switch sides.
BENT-OVER PULL (MID-BACK)
Bent over pull
Find a sturdy door, and plant feet about 2 feet from it. Bend at the waist and grab doorknob with both hands. Drop head between arms, bend knees slightly, round shoulders and back, then pull away from door. Hold. Release hands. Slowly roll up to standing.
THE SEAL (ABDOMINALS)
Seal
Lie on the floor, face down. Place hands under shoulders, fingers facing forward with elbows bent. While pushing hips into the floor, use arms to push chest off the floor. Look straight ahead and keep feet on the floor while pressing with arms.
HIP TWISTER (LOWER BACK & HIPS)
Hip twister
Lie on back, arms out, palms down. Keeping left leg out, bend right knee 90 degrees. With left hand, pull right leg over left leg and toward floor; let hips rotate left. Look over right shoulder, keeping right shoulder and arm on floor. Hold. Switch sides.
OVERHEAD REACH (SIDES/OBLIQUES)
Overhead reach
Stand with hands alongside body. Lift right arm straight up with palm facing your ear. With knees slightly bent, begin bending to the left at the waist, reaching right fingertips toward left wall. Hold. Switch sides.
CHAIR BOW (SIDES OF BACK/LATISSIMUS DORSI)
Chair bow
Kneel facing a sturdy chair. Place hands on chair seat with palms facing each other. Looking at the floor, drop shoulders and chest down while keeping abdominals pulled in to support lower back. Let head hang down. You should feel this stretch from mid-back, out to your sides, and possibly up into shoulders and triceps.

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LOWER BODY

SIDE LUNGE (INNER THIGH/ADDUCTORS)
Stand with feet about 3 feet apart. Keeping back flat and shoulders relaxed, put hands on right thigh and bend right knee. Put all weight onto right foot and sit back into right heel. Hold. Switch sides.
Side Lunge
FOOT ROLL (OUTSIDE OF LOWER LEG)
Standing with feet hip distance apart, roll right foot onto outside edge. Gently press ankle toward floor. Hold. Switch sides.
Foot roll
LUNGE BACK (CALF/GASTROC-SOLEUS)
Lunge Back
Place hands against wall at shoulder height, and step right foot back about 3 feet; keep left foot under knee. Press right heel into the floor while pressing hips toward wall. Hold for count of 15, then bend right knee while continuing to press heel into floor. Hold for 15. Switch legs and repeat.
LIFTED QUAD (FRONT OF THIGHS/QUADRICEPS)
Lifted quad
Standing with back to a sturdy chair, reach right leg back and rest top of foot on chair. Keeping left knee aligned over left ankle, slowly bend left knee and lower yourself toward floor, keeping torso upright. (Do next to a wall or high-backed chair if you need to hold on for balance.) Hold. Switch legs.
HIP STRETCH (OUTSIDE OF THIGH/IT BAND)
Hip Stretch
Standing with hands on hips, cross right foot behind left and push right hip out to the side while bending upper body to left, starting from hips. Hold. Switch sides.
PRETZEL PULL (BUTT/GLUTEUS)
Pretzel pull
Lie on back. Cross right ankle over left knee, with right knee out to side. Bend left leg; lace fingers behind left thigh. With head and shoulders relaxed, pull left leg toward chest. Hold. Switch sides.
TRACK HAMSTRING (BACK OF THIGH)
Track hamstring
Place feet so that right heel is beside left toe. Bend knees; place hands beside feet. With fingers on floor and head dropped, lift hips to straighten legs as best you can. Hold. Switch legs.

Photos by Tim Mantoani for USA WEEKEND


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