Marsh column: Don’t forget to stretch

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 15, 2008

Last week, I talked about exercises you can do through the holidays without weight. This week, I want to talk about a stretch routine.
After you have warmed up with some light cardio, you can do the following:
Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds or two times 15 seconds.
Lie on your back and bend your knees feet together. Let your knees fall to the sides. If you need support, hold your legs up with your hands. You will feel the inner thigh stretch.
Stay in same position, with knees bent. Extend right arm next to your head and reach up. Keep left arm next to your body and reach down.
Switch arms, then do some “traps” (muscle in between neck and shoulder).
On back, pull one leg toward your chest and leave the other leg straight on the floor. Switch legs.
On side, rest your head on an extended arm. Bend top leg and grab upper foot, with knees together. To stretch your quads (front upper leg) more, you can push your hip forward. Switch legs and sides.
On back, one leg is bent; other leg is extended and up. With hands, pull extended leg towards you to stretch hamstrings.
In a seated position, with one leg extended to the front, other leg is bent and foot is on outer side of the extended knee. Turn body toward bent leg and grab the knee, sit up tall and twist. Switch sides.
In a seated position, bend knees and place bottoms of feet together. Let the knees fall to the sides or push them out. This stretches inner thighs.
In a standing position, one leg is back and straight, front leg is bent. Back heel stays on the floor and the position of the heel is behind your foot. Bring weight forward and keep heel on floor ó feel stretch in calf (back part lower leg). Switch sides.
In same position, back heel comes off the floor, hip pushes forward (like a Michael Jackson dance move!); feel the stretch in the hip flexors (front of the hip).
In standing position, extend arms up next to your ears. Try to “reach” the ceiling. This stretches side, upper body, shoulders, arms.
Same as above, but now one arm is down, the other stays up and continues to reach over. So right arm up, reach toward your left, left arm up, reach toward your right. This stretches side, upper body, shoulder, arms.
In standing position, extend one arm to the front and bring it across your body. With your other arm, “hug” and pull toward your body. Switch arms. This stretch is for back of shoulder.
Same start, bring arm up and bend. When elbow is pointing to ceiling, use the other arm to push it toward the opposite side. Right elbow will be pushed to left and left to right. This is a triceps stretch (back of upper arm).
In standing position with your side to a wall, put hand on wall on shoulder level. Fingers are pointing to the back, push your shoulder forward. Switch arms. This is a bicep stretch and also stretches your shoulder and some chest.
Ahhhhhh, does that feel so much better?
Coming soon: Exercises that will help with your balance.

Ester Marsh is associate executive director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. Contact her with health and fitness questions at 704-636-011 or emarsh@