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FARMINGTON — If you’re doing at-home fitness training to stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic, physical therapist Ashlie Angel stresses the importance of stretching and other forms of self-care before and after a workout. And for good reason.

If you look to tone up certain muscle groups, or to simply not be a couch potato, Angel recommends the following pre and post-workout exercises to promote healing and prevent injury:

Standing hip extension

Place one foot on a chair in front of your body with your knee bent, and your toe pointing forward. Keep your stationary leg extended on the floor 2 to 3 feet back from chair.

While keeping your trunk upright and your core engaged, move your hips forward. Repeat it as recommended, and complete three 30-second reps on both sides.

Standing quadriceps (front of thigh) stretch

Stand up next to a chair.

Place the top of the foot of a leg on the chair's armrest.

Keep the back straight, the pelvis neutral and tighten your core. 

One can bend the knee of the supporting leg to deepen the stretch on the other leg.

Hold the position for three 30-second reps on both sides.

Hamstring (back of thigh) stretch

Stand with one foot on a stool in front of you, straighten your leg and stick your buttock back.

Do not bend your back, and rotate your foot side to side.

Do three sets (10 reps each) on each side, twice a day.

Standing calf stretch (on wall)

Put the leg to be stretched behind with the heel on the floor and toes pointing directly forward.

Place both hands on the wall and extend the rear knee while pushing the hips forward without bending the front knee until you feel a stretch in your back calf. Hold the stretching position on each side.

Piriformis stretch

Lying flat on your back and looking face up, cross the legs with the leg to be stretched on top.

Gently pull the lower knee toward the chest with your hands placed under the knee until a stretch is felt in the buttocks. Switch between both sides.

Pectoral (chest) stretch in doorway

Stand in a doorway with your forearms on each side of the door.

Move forward with one leg in front of the other to stretch the pectorals.

Pinch your shoulder blades together and prevent your lower back from arching.

You should feel a comfortable stretch in your chest.

You can perform the stretch with your arms up or down to emphasis different portions of your pectorals. Do three 30-second reps, twice a day.

Foam rolling calf stretch

Place the foam roller between the Achilles tendon and calf muscle.

Cross the other leg over the leg being treated to increase the pressure.

Roll the entire calf in an up and down motion. 

Pause at any spots that feel especially tender, and keep your calf relaxed.

Foam rolling quadriceps stretch

Place the foam roller on the floor and lie on your stomach with the front of your thighs over the foam roller.

Roll the entire front of the thighs from the top of the hips to the top of the knee caps in an up and down motion. 

You should pull yourself with your elbows and forearms.

Pause at any spots that feel especially tender, and keep your quadriceps relaxed.

Maintain abs tight and proper low back posture during the exercise.

Lats (mid-back) and teres major (behind arm pit) rolling

Lie on your side with a foam roller placed slightly lower than your armpit.

Roll on the foam roller from the armpit to the lower ribs using slow movement, stopping as recommended on the tight spots that are more uncomfortable.

You want to be on the teres major and latissimus dorsi muscles, don't roll directly on your ribs.

Massage stick: quadriceps

Sit down on a chair with your knee straight.

Use the massage stick to roll out the quadriceps on top of the thigh.You can roll on all the portions of the quadriceps, including the outer and inner portion.

Spend more time on areas that are tender, tight, or knotted, but avoid modifying the pressure on the painful areas.

Massage stick: calf

Sit down on a chair with your knee bent.

Use the massage stick to roll out the calf muscle, and keep the calf relaxed as you roll.

Spend more time on areas that are tender, tight or knotted, but avoid modifying pressure on the painful areas.

As an alternative, put your heel on an elevated object in front of you to reach your calf or sit on the floor.

Massage stick: hamstrings

Sit down on a chair.

Use the massage stick to roll out tissues in the back of your thigh, keeping your knee bent.

Spend more time on areas that are tender/tight/knotted but avoid modifying pressure on the painful areas.

Each exercise can be viewed in detail here.

The benefits of self-care

Stretching

It increases or maintains muscle length, increases blood flow in the area of the body that’s being worked and helps maintain joint mobility, according to Angel.

Self-massage

It improves circulation to bring healing elements into the affected area of the body, eliminates toxins produced during a workout, improves flexibility and breaks up and/or prevents scar tissue.

Compression

It decreases inflammation produced during a workout, and it helps flush out toxins produced during a workout.

What you need

You don’t need any tools for stretching, according to Angel.

However, Angel recommends a device called The Stick, which treats muscle pain and diffuses barrier trigger points in the body. 

For more info in the The Stick, visit https://www.thestick.net/about-the-stick/. As an alternative, one can use a rolling pin one uses for baking.

For compression, Angel recommends full-length athletic compression stockings or even regular stockings one may have at home. Compression wear can be found at your local drug store.

Ashlie Angel is an outpatient orthopedic physical therapist with San Juan Regional Medical Center, as well as an off-road triathlete and mountain biker. She can be reached  via email at aangel@sjrmc.net.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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