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4 Stretches You Should Be Doing to Release Pain

 Do you suffer from chronic pain? Very often, the root cause of everyday aches is a simple case of inflexibility. The below stretches from David Reavy, the founder of React Physical Therapy in Chicago can be done pre- or post- your workout, or whenever you need loosening up. If the pain is persistent, start with a daily dose then switch to one or three times per week to maintain your flexibility. 
 
 

For pain in your knees

The problem: Tight feet or ankles
How often do you think about the muscles in your feet? Probably, not much at all. But they are constantly working hard for you. Tightness in the feet and ankles can be felt everywhere, though especially in the knees.

stretches for pain

Do this: Plantar fascia stretch
Kneel with your toes tucked, placing your weight on the balls of both feet. Gently lower your upper body until you are sitting on your heels. Place your hands on the tops of your thighs and lean back. Hold the pose for 20 to 60 seconds. 

Tip: Get your knees in top form by working on your glutes and quads. Basic body weights should help fix any lower imbalances you may have. 

For pain in your lower back

The problem: Tight hips
The hip flexors spread across 8 different joints. When the muscles in this area are tight the abdominals and glutes shut down. If these areas of your body aren't working at their full strength, you will likely feel it in your lower back. 

stretches for pain

Do this: King cobra stretch
Lie facedown with your palms under your shoulders slightly turned out. Then, slide the left leg up toward the hip and bend the knee - keep the right leg extended with the toes turned inwards. Push up until the arms are straight. Keep the hips on the floor with the elbows close to the sides. Turn the head and the upper body slightly to the left then hold for 20 to 45 seconds, before you switch sides. 

Tip: To reduce back pain, do exercises that strengthen your abdominals and hip flexors. 

 

For pain in your shoulders

The problem: Tight back
While you may hear a clicking sound in your shoulders, it's not just the shoulders that are to blame. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, with the ball of the humerus (upper arm) sitting inside a cavity in the scapula, or shoulder blade. But when your lower trapezius muscles, or mid-back muscles are weak it can alter the mechanics of the ball and socket, causing pain. 

stretches for pain

Do this: Lat strech
Kneel with your arms forward on top of a stability ball, keep your palms in and your thumbs facing the ceiling. Sit back toward your heels, then push your chest toward the floor while keeping your back flat. Hold the pose for 30 seconds. Then, move the ball to the left while stretching your right lat muscle, hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side, stretching your left lat muscle. 

Tip: Use weights to strengthen your arms and the lower trapezius. This will help keep your back and shoulders in balance and shoulder joint in position. 


For pain in your neck

The problem: Tight chest
If you spend a lot of time sitting down, traveling in a car or looking at your phone, constantly leaning forward causes a tightness in your pec muscles which run along the front of your chest. Tight pec muscles will pull you forward creating a strain or tightness in the neck. 

stretches for pain

Do this: Pec stretch
Stand facing a wall with your right arm raised to shoulder height, then bring your forearm flush against the wall. Rotate your torso away from your right arm and stretch the front of your chest and right shoulder. Bend sideways at the hip, pushing your body away from the wall. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, then switch sides. 

Tip: Try chin tucks (pushing your chin back into your neck) to help reduce the pain. 

Images: Jess Levinson

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