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Health, Stress and health, The massage

Stretch exercises

Regular stretching exercises are important if you wish to maintain the benefits of a massage and avoid the strains of poor posture and repetitive work. Stretching also provides good breaks from a work routine and can energize and refresh your mind, which in return improves your work performance. Below is a list of exercises which can easily be performed during the day. Taking a 5 minutes break every hour from the computer and do some of the exercises will have large effect.

For all the stretches, it’s recommended that you exhale while performing the stretch and inhale as you return to normal position. Stretches should be done slowly and smoothly, not jerking. Repeat each stretch 3-5 times and do not stretch further than what is comfortable. If a stretch becomes painful it will be counter productive.

  • Do this exercise without rotating the head: Pull left shoulder away from the ear and draw the right ear towards the right shoulder with your hand. Then pull to the other side.
  • Turn head to the right side, using your hands to add pressure. Then repeat to the other side.
  • Sit on the chair and grab the back of the chair with both hands. Use the arm across your front to pull towards the side so your trunk twists rather than the shoulders and arms. Shift your hands and repeat and twist to the other side.
  • Place the left arm over your head while the right arm hangs to the ground. Slowly try and touch the ground with your right hand. Keep the back straight. Repeat to the other side.
  • Reach for the sky and stretch your arms up as far as you can reach. Arch your back lightly.
Shoulder and upper arm:
  • Turn your head to the right so you look over the right shoulder and tug your chin in. Pull the left shoulder down while you place your right hand on the back of the head. Pull head and left shoulder apart from each other. Repeat to the other side.
  • Drop the chin to the chest and turn the head 45°. Use your hand to stretch the neck.
  • Sit on a chair and move your arm in front of the chest. Point your hand upwards while the other hand grabs the elbow and pulls it across the front.
  • Fix the arm against a door frame. Step forward keeping your back straight (not arched). Push against the door frame with your elbow and underarm. Raising or lowering the arm will stretch different parts of the chest muscle.
  • Place your hand against a door frame, holding your elbow in a 90° angle. Step forward while anchoring your hand against the frame.
  • Sit on the chair and place your hand between the shoulder blades. Grab the elbow with the other hand and gently pull the elbow behind the head. Side bending will increase the stretch.
  • Stand with your back to the desk and place your palms on the desk. Keep your arms and torso straight and slowly bend your knees.
  • Hold the doorknob with your hand and gently step away from the door.
  • Raise one arm to shoulder height. Flex the other arm across to the other shoulder and hold the raised elbow with the opposite hand. Pull the elbow backward.
Forearm and hand:
  • Weave your fingers together and then turn palms outward. Stretch your arms and fingers.
  • Use one hand to gently lever the other wrist into extension, up and down. Can be done with palms facing each other, and palms facing floor and upwards.
  • Place your hand palm down on a table. Gently pull each finger upward into extension.
  • Press your palms together and turn your hands up and down while keeping your arms still.

Even if you can’t find time to do the full range of stretch exercises in one break, do a few at a time every hour and during a full day you will have gone through the entire list.

There are plenty of documents, videos and books available on the net for further reading and suggestions. My suggestion is that you create a routine that fits and suits you and do that every day to keep yourself in shape and avoid injuries and serious strains.

Sources, illustrations and further reading:

The Concise Book of Muscles

About Pia Poulsen

Pia Poulsen is educated as a wellness massage therapist at Institut FIGARI in Paris, from where she passed her certification exam in January 2008. Since then she has expanded her skills to become the first Advanced LaStone® practitioner in France as well as a certified LaStone® instructor.


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