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More often than not, you’ll leave your osteopath or massage appointment with a couple of exercises or stretches to do at home – to build on the work that’s been done and maintain the results achieved during your session.

Here we share our most frequently prescribed exercises, and why they are so good for you.

These may be brand new ideas to try, or they might just remind you of something we’ve talked about before. Let us know how you get on!

Roll downs 

Super simple and effective! This is a great movement to improve spinal mobility and stretch the muscles of the back. 

Start standing tall. Begin by tucking your chin to your chest, allowing your shoulders to round and arms to hang forwards. Picture your spine as a stack of blocks, rolling each block (vertebrae) over the other as far as you can. Then roll back up in the reverse motion. 

Top tip: take this one nice and slow for maximal stretch!

Scapular Retractions 

This is a useful exercise to reset your posture by strengthening the muscles of the upper back. 

Stand tall, tucking your chin slightly. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down – you should feel your shoulders roll outwards and your chest open. Hold here for 3-5 seconds before letting go. 

Top tip: This exercise can be completed as many times as you like throughout the day.

Windmills

This is a dynamic all-rounder, and a great spinal mobility movement to improve your range of motion. Using your arms to encourage movement through the shoulders, ribs and spine.

This exercise can be done either seated or standing; bring your arm straight out in front, lifting and rotating your arm past your head, following your hand with your eyes as you do so. 

Top tip: Don’t forget to alternate your arms and to change the direction of movement through the spine!

Pec Stretch 

A strong stretch to open the front of the chest- great for those who spend a lot of time desk-based on computers or drivers holding the steering wheel. 

For this exercise, find a doorway or an exposed part of the wall. Stand in the doorway or next to the wall and place your forearm and elbow along it, perpendicular to you. Step forwards to create a stretch across the front of your chest. Hold here for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Top tip: You can play around with the angle of your arm to target different fibres of the muscle.

Glute Stretch 

The glutes are one of the strongest muscle groups, so keeping them flexible is important and can help with low back pain. 

Begin seated with your feet planted on the ground. Bring one ankle over the other knee. Keep your back as flat as possible, hinging at your hips to bring your chest towards your bent knee. Hold here whilst feeling a stretch in your buttocks. 

Top tip: Imagine a broomstick connecting the back of your head to the base of your spine to prevent you from slumping forwards.

Traps Stretch

Neck tightness is increasingly common with more and more people working from home. This stretch is a great way to release tension in the neck and upper back.

In a seated position, tuck one hand under your thigh, with your palm facing away. Bend your head away from this hand, bringing your ear to your shoulder, then look towards the floor. Gently place your free hand over your head, using the weight to increase the stretch. 

Top tip: 15 seconds is the ideal time to hold a stretch for. This stretch can be increased by dropping your chin slightly closer to your chest.

SCM Stretch 

The muscles at the front of the neck can become tighter if you spend time looking down at screens, grind your teeth, suffer from breathing issues like asthma, or maybe you just slept funny! This stretch may be useful for you. 

Firstly, find your sternum/breastbone. Using your hands, with gentle pressure push in and slightly down, squeezing your shoulders blades.  Bring one ear to your shoulder and look up to the ceiling – you should feel a stretch at the front of your neck. 

Top tip: Your sternum is the flat, bony structure at the bottom of your neck and the front of your chest, in between your ribs. It is where this muscle attaches. 

Diaphragmatic Breathing 

The diaphragm is a large muscle that powers 80% of breathing mechanics. 

Breathing exercises have numerous proven benefits:

  • Improving mindfulness to promote relaxation and lift mood by decreasing the production of stress hormones
  • Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increasing lung capacity to aid athletic performance
  • Strengthening the core and pelvic floor 

This is why we love using this technique in clinic. 

Lying flat, place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen just below your rib cage. Pull the air in through your nose and down into your tummy. Imagine that your lower ribs are expanding front, back and either side. Slowly exhale through your mouth, allowing your abdominal muscles to fall. 

Top tip: You should feel the hand on your abdomen rise first if you are doing this correctly! 

 

So what are you waiting for?!

Once you’ve had a go at some of these you’ll realise why they are our favourite moves! If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

You can e-mail us at info@meadowsideosteopathy.co.uk, book a free ‘Ask the Osteopath’ telephone call here.