Stretching Exercises


Stretching

Contributed by Dolores Carron, taken from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Editor’s Note: Dolores later posted in the various email support groups that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a great booklet on stretching. If you can’t open this PDF file, then call 1 (800) 344-4867 for information about this booklet.

Neck

  • Look up to the ceiling, then extend your chin downward toward your chest
  • Tilt your head sideways, moving the right ear toward the right shoulder, then tilt your left ear toward your left shoulder, 3) rotate your head to the right, then to the left.

Shoulder

  • Put your hand, thumb pointing up, in the middle of your lower back and raise your hand toward your shoulder blades, then repeat with the other arm.

Elbow

  • Starting with one arm outstretched, draw your hand toward your shoulder and then straighten it again, then repeat with the other arm.

Wrist

  • Use your index finger as a pointer to spell the capital letters of the alphabet, then repeat with the other wrist.

Lower back

  • From a standing position, bend down slowly and reach down toward your toes (don’t overextend or bounce in an attempt to touch your toes)
  • Straighten up, place your open palms on your buttocks, and arch backward slightly
  • Rest your hands on your hips and slowly bend sideways, while sliding your left hand, with palm open, down your left thigh toward your knee and repeat on the right side.

Hips

  • While standing, hold onto a chair or table with your left hand to brace yourself and bring your right knee straight up, then lower it
  • Now lift the knee again and gradually lower and sweep the leg backwards without letting your foot touch the ground, and return to standing position
  • Switch position and repeat with the left leg.

Knee

  • While sitting, extend your right leg fully, then repeat with the left leg.

Ankle

  • Using your big toe as a pointer, spell the capital letters of the alphabet, then repeat with the opposite leg.

General Recommendations

Start low, go slow, performing each exercise a few times only and then increase to a comfortable number or repetitions. Don’t force it. Back off if you feel pain. Range of motion decreases if you don’t use your major joints. With disuse, muscles and tendons contract and make the joints feel stiff. The longer the joint remains fixed, the harder it is to reverse the effect.

Stretching Exercises

Contributed by Dale Rutshow – personal experience posting to the email support groups

I have certain areas that give me grief, like my left shoulder/neck area. It radiates out from one spot in my back so I have very specific stretches for that and why I would recommend a physical therapist. However a lot of them would be for anyone, like the following, I hope I can explain them well enough.

Roll up a towel in a tight roll and lie on it, with the towel going the full length of the spine to right under you neck. This is an easy one, just lie on it for a few minutes and relax (don’t go to sleep ;-). Most people, like me slouch forward slightly and also have stronger muscles on the front than on the back. This gently stretches those muscles in the chest. You will probably feel a slight pulling across the chest but as you relax your shoulders will come to rest more on the floor. I was told to "hold" this for 10-15 minutes if I was tight… hard to do but you can do it!!!  [;-)]

Ok, staying on the towel, you might want a small towel under the neck to give support but not under the head. Take a rod or something that allows you to hold your hands about the same distance apart as your shoulders, usually you want something ridged because you want to keep your hands at that distance apart at all times, but it can’t extend much past your hands either. I use a hand towel but then you must keep it pulled tight apart so your hands don’t get closer together…

Now with your arms straight up in front of you, lower both arms to the right until you either go as far as you can without causing pain or till your right hand touches the floor, do this slowly and hold for a few seconds when your at the farthest of your reach. Now come back over you body and do the same to the left, do this 10 times. So you are making a, if you can reach the floor, 180 degree half circle. Remember to keep the arms ridged, go slow and don’t let the hands come together at all.

Next, while still holding on to what ever you have in your hands, put your arms all the way down to your waist with the bar/towel/whatever is resting on your body. Slowly raise up your arms (again they need to be straight out and shoulder width apart) and bring them up over your head and lower them to the floor over your head, or again as far as you can and hold for a few seconds and then back up over to the waist. Remember slow and again 10 times.

When your done with that one, with your hands down towards your feet, move your arms (keep them stiff) in a circle up to your right has far as you can or until they are level with your shoulders. Now slowly move your arms down and around and up to the left as far as you can and hold for a few seconds again. So really your making a lot of 180… This last one is like a pendulum.

In the first and 3rd stretch, the arm that is going to stop the progress in one direction of the swing will probably be the opposite arm, i.e. if you swing up to the right, the left arm will be the one that stops the movement…

Another one I do for stiff hips. Get a new tennis ball, well one that still has good bounce. Again, lie on the floor and put the tennis ball just around the ball joint of where the leg comes into the hip. You will feel it, you don’t put it on the leg ball itself but all around it. Keep it in one spot until the pain stops or lessens a lot then move it just a little around the ball joint and repeat until you have gone all the way around the joint. I find this really helps when I have stiff hips. I sometimes keep it in one spot for several minutes, sometimes it’s very painful to start but you will slowly feel it relax.

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Saturday, September 8th, 2012