If tightness is present in one of your arms or legs, you’ll feel resistance to the movement. Overcome this resistance by continuing slow, steady pressure to the limb. If pain occurs, stop the movement.
The following exercises are intended to stretch your muscles or move the joints through their full range-of-motion.
A stretching program performed daily may help to modulate muscle tightness.
You can do the entire stretching exercise program in 20 minutes or less.
Hold each stretch for 5 seconds and repeat a few times, up to 10 times.
Neck and trunk
Wrist and hand
Quadriceps and hamstrings
Adductors (inner thigh)
Stand with your back to a wall. Press your heels, buttocks, shoulders and head against the wall. Move the feet forward, and bend your knees so your back slides a few inches down the wall.
Tighten your abdominal muscles so you can flatten your lower back against the wall. Relax. Repeat.
Stand with your hands in the small of your back. Bend backward with knees straight. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to starting position.
Lie face down, palms at shoulder level. Press the top half of your body up, using your arms. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to starting position.
Single knee to chest
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Grasp your left knee with your hands and pull back toward your left shoulder until you feel a good stretch. Slowly lower the leg back to the floor and repeat the same procedure with the right leg.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms crossed over your chest. Roll your chin toward your chest and raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Relax.
Don't do these exercises if your neck weakness is severe; that is, if you have difficulty holding your head up. As always, check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Maintaining an erect sitting posture is important in all areas of function. Weakness of the neck and trunk can affect your posture by decreasing balance and creating uneven tension between muscles.
Prolonged poor posture will lead to stiffness and pain.
Trunk and neck stretching exercises improve mobility of the spine, thus making posture easier to maintain.
To loosen neck muscles
While seated, start with your body erect and your shoulders relaxed. Keep your chin level and turn your head as far as possible to the right, as if you’re looking over your shoulder. Slowly rotate to the opposite side. Return to the starting position and relax.
Slowly tilt your head toward the right, guiding your ear toward your shoulder. Hold, and return it to the center. Do the same on the left side.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Extend your hips and back by lifting your buttocks up to form a “bridge” position, while pushing down into the bed or floor with your feet. (If necessary, have someone hold your feet.)
While sitting in a chair with your arms hanging loosely, bend to the right. With your arms in a downward position, bend to the left.
Hold your hands together in front of your abdomen. Turn your head, shoulders and arms toward the right.
Hold your hands together. Turn your head, shoulders and arms toward the left.
Pull your chin down toward your chest. Hold for 5 seconds. Look forward and relax.
With your head erect, push your chin back as far as possible, making a double chin. You should feel the back of your neck stretching upward. Hold for 5 seconds and relax.
Muscles that move the elbow are located primarily in the lower two-thirds of the upper arm.
Start with your hands on your knees, bend at the elbows to touch your shoulders. Return your hands to your knees.
Sit with your elbow and forearm supported on a table. Turn palm up and palm down.
The muscles that control the wrist are located in the forearm while those that control the hand are located in both the forearm and the hand.
Lift your hands up and down as if waving. Make a fist and straighten your fingers.
Touch the thumb to the tip of each finger. Bring your thumb across the palm of the hand to the base of the little finger and straighten.
Make circles with your thumb.
With the palms of your hand flat on your knees, spread the fingers apart, then bring them back together.
The “shoulder” consists of many muscles that extend from the neck, upper back and chest to the upper arm. Stretching can be achieved with the following simple exercises:
Starting with your hands on your knees and palms down, raise both arms as high as possible over your head.
Starting with your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder height and palms down, move your arms out to your sides. Hold for 5 seconds. Return your arms to the front.
Starting with your arms down at your sides, raise your arms out to the sides with palms down. Bring both arms over your head as high as possible.
Lie on your back, arm out to your side at shoulder height, elbow bent to 90 degrees, fist pointing toward the ceiling. Bring your hand forward to the bed, palm down. Return to the starting position, then bring your hand backward to the bed, palm up. Do exercise with other arm.
Quadriceps are the muscles in the front of your thighs that are responsible for straightening the knee and bending the hip.
Lie on your stomach and bend your knee. Grasp your ankle with one hand and pull your heel to your buttock. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat.
The hamstrings are the large muscles on the back of the thighs extending from the buttocks to just below the knees. You’ll usually feel the pull at the knees and behind the entire thigh.
Sit on the floor with your back and legs straight. Pull your toes up. Reach toward your toes and grasp your shins with your hands. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat.
The muscles in the inner thigh that help with walking and pull your leg inward are the adductors.
Sit in a modified “Indian style” with the soles of your feet together and pulled toward your body. Push your knees down toward the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat.
Also known as the Achilles tendon, the heel cord is the tapered end of the calf muscle, extending from behind your knee to your heel. This muscle is responsible for pointing the foot downward.
Sit on a firm surface with your legs straight. Place a belt or towel around the ball of the foot and pull toward you until you feel a stretch. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat.
Stand at arm’s length from a wall with your palms flat against the wall. Slowly bend your elbows and lean toward the wall. Keep your back, hips and knees straight and push your heels flat on the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat.