Stretching is an important part of any daily exercise routine, and especially so as we age. As our joints take on normal wear and tear with the passing of time, daily stretching can help maintain and increase joint movement, relieve muscle tension, and reduce the risk of injury from daily tasks and workouts.
“For my patients with joint pain and limited mobility, I always recommend daily stretching to help manage the pain while and allow for greater movement,” says AROmotion’s founder, Dr. Robert Dean. “Stretching is also a simple way to help prevent injuries that can complicate an existing joint condition.”
According to Dean, it’s important to stretch the entire body and not just the areas affected by joint pain. “If you are living with chronic joint pain, the last thing you need is a new injury in another area of the body to manage. By stretching your body from head to toe, you’ll reduce that risk.”
If you need some inspiration for your daily stretching routine while managing joint pain, here’s Dr. Dean’s favorite daily routine that he often shares with his patients:
Neck Rolls. This stretch can be done sitting or standing with the back straight for optimal posture. Tilt your head to one side and feel the gentle stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Breathe in and roll your head to the other side to stretch. Repeat this move up to 10 times or until you feel a release of tension in your neck.
Shoulder Rolls. Next, while maintaining proper posture, roll your shoulders up towards your ears and then back as you pinch your shoulder blades together. Repeat 10 times while breathing in and out deeply.
Arm Criss-Cross. Again, maintain your proper posture while standing or sitting and hook your right arm with your left forearm to form a “T” while pulling the right arm in towards you left shoulder. Breathe into the stretch and hold for several seconds. Repeat on the other side, then repeat the set up to 5 times.
Side Stretch. Raise your right arm over your head, keeping that posture, and bend sideways at the waist until you feel a good stretch in your right side. Breathe in and out, then repeat on the other side. Repeat the set up to 5 times.
Toe Touches. This move is best done while standing, but if your mobility is limited it can also be done while seated. Slowly roll your head down towards your chest and continue to drop down towards your toes. Feel the stretch in the back of your legs and be sure to stop before it becomes uncomfortable. Hold for several seconds, roll up slowly, and repeat up to 5 times.
Forward-Bending Hamstring Stretch. Sit down with your back straight and your head pulling towards the ceiling. Place your right leg directly out in front of you with your foot flexed and slowly bend forward with a flat back as far as you can. Breathe in and out of the stretch, roll back up slowly, and repeat on the other side. Repeat the set 5-10 times.
Seated Glute and Sciatica Stretch. Next, place your right foot on top of your left knee and sit up straight, head pointed towards the ceiling. Grip the sides of the chair with your hand, keep a flat back, and lower slowly from the waist to feel a stretch across your sciatic nerve and into your glutes. Breathe in and out and hold for several seconds. Come up slowly, repeat on the other side, then repeat the set 3-5 times. If you have a lot of tension in this area, you may want to hold the stretch for longer while making sure to listen to your body regarding how far down to bend.
Foot Circles. Finally, show your feet a little love with this move! Again, while seated, extend your right foot out directly in front of you and move your foot from the ankle in a clockwise circle 8 times. Then, move the foot counterclockwise 8 times. Repeat on the other side, then you can repeat the set 3-5 times as needed.
“This simple routine can be done from the comfort of your home, sitting or standing, and best of all it doesn’t take that long,” says Dr. Dean. “The most important thing is to listen to your body! Don’t push past your own limits. Stretching should feel good and release tension, so when you start to feel pain or discomfort – that’s your body’s signal to not push the stretch further. And remember, you will become stronger and more flexible with time”
If you are living with chronic knee, hip, or shoulder pain that’s preventing you from daily tasks and activities, you can complete the form below to request your free consultation with Dr. Dean to see if you are a candidate for AROmotion which has helped more than 2,000 patients stop their joint pain fast without surgery.