Mobility and Stretching Program

I have created a simple mobility and stretching program that you can use anywhere to follow my last blog post Avoiding Injuries With Stretching and Foam Rolling.

Self-Myofascial Release

Self-myofascial release via foam rolling or using a ball (typically something like a lacrosse ball) can be a very useful technique to alleviate soft muscle tissue pain and prevent immobility.

How to perform self-myofascial release: Focus on the areas that feel tender or tight and “massage” the tender spots by moving back and forth (“rolling”) within the affected area (either by foam rolling or with a ball) or pausing at these points of tension for about 20-30 seconds or until there is a bit of pressure release.

Upper Traps

Erin Shaw Trap RollErin Shaw Trap Roll 2

Place a ball against a wall or the floor right beside the bottom of your shoulder blade on one side (not on the spine either). Starting from the base you can apply pressure and go into a half squat (if standing) so that the ball moves up your back approximately the bottom of the shoulder blade, if lying down you can start in the same location as the standing version and work your way down by sliding against the ball. Focus mostly on the tender areas for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. To get the upper most area of the traps you can hold the ball in your hand applying pressure and rolling the ball within the area.

Chest (Pecs)

Erin Shaw Chest RollWith the ball you can either use your hand (shown) or a wall (not shown). Pick one side to start, bring your arm away from your body, place the ball starting from the center of the chest and work your way outward in a back and forth motion to the front of your shoulder (you will likely slide over a tendon in the front of the shoulder which is perfectly okay).

Erin Shaw Chest Roll 2

With the roller lay on the ground with your arm out, the roller should be between your arm and your chest. You can also angle the roller so it is more on the chest (most of the time this doesn’t work for women due to anatomy), and then slightly roll back and forth, or just hold putting pressure in that area for 20-30 sec.

Thoracic Spine

thoracic

Erin Shaw Back Roll 2The point of this exercise in specific is to allow for greater mobility in the thoracic spine, especially in individuals that have an excessively curved thoracic spine (hunched over look). Lay on the ground with a foam roller under your back.  What you will do is start at the lowest point marked in the photo (I’m at about the second from the top point in the photo), cross your arms across your chest, lean back and then do a bit of a sit up, move the roller up the spine to the next area and sit up and so on until you’ve got them all (you’ll get 3-4 spots, your last spot will be between the shoulder blades). Repeat 2 more times.

Lats

Erin Shaw Lat Roll

Lay down on your side with your arm straight over your head, with your thumb pointing upward, place a foam roller placed below the arm pit. Slightly shift your weight backward and roll down the side. Pay attention to how much pressure you use avoiding pressure on the ribs. Hold or massage in each tender area for 20-30 sec.

Glutes (Piriformis)

Erin Shaw Piriformis Roll 2 Erin Shaw Piriformis Roll

Sit on top of the foam roller or ball. Bend your knees, and then cross one leg so that the ankle is over the knee. Shift your weight to the side of the crossed leg, rolling over the butt until you feel tension in your upper glute. Roll within that area for 20-30 sec. You can assist the stretch by pulling your leg closer to your chest, especially if you have limited hip flexibility.

Quads and Adductors

Erin Shaw Quad Roll 1Erin Shaw Adductor Roll 2

Quad: Lie face down with one or both legs on the foam roller/ball above the knee. Apply pressure and roll along the front of the leg, pausing at points of tension; hold or massage in each tender area for 20-30 sec. Try rolling the leg outward and inward so that you are able to get all four of the quadriceps.

Adductor: Starting in the same position for the quad roll, rotate the leg so that the foam roll contacts against your inner thigh. Shift as much weight onto the foam roll that can be tolerated, try to keep your leg as relaxed as possible.

Hip Flexors

Erin Shaw Hip Flexor RollLay on your side with a roller placed approximately where your pants pockets would be shift your weight forward slightly putting more pressure onto the front side of the hip. This area is small so “massage” the area by rolling back and forth for 20-30 sec.

Erin Shaw Quad Roll 2

Lay on the ground with a roller or ball on the upper thigh approximately where you would bend at the hip. Apply pressure and just roll slightly back and forth. Hold or massage in each tender area for 20-30 sec.

Hamstrings

Erin Shaw Hamstring Roll 2Erin Shaw Hamstring Roll 1

Sit down on the ground with one leg straight and the other leg on top of the other (to apply more pressure onto the roller) or with one leg straight and the bent to support you, place a roller or ball beneath the straightened leg. Lift your hips off of the ground with your arms behind/beside you, while putting pressure on the hamstring. Roll down the leg paying attention to points of tension; hold or massage in each tender area for 20-30 sec. Try rolling the leg outward and inward so that you are able to get all the heads of the hamstrings group.

Calves

Erin Shaw Calf RollErin Shaw Calf Roll 2

Sit down on the floor with a roller or ball placed on your leg below the knee. Your other leg can either be crossed over the opposite or be placed on the floor, supporting some of your weight (the latter is recommended for the ball to avoid putting too much pressure on the calf). Support yourself with your hand and press down to raise your hips off of the floor putting pressure on the calf and rolling until you find your pressure points; hold or massage in each tender area for 20-30 sec. Try rolling the leg outward and inward so that you are able to get the entire calf.

Shins

Erin Shaw Shin Roll

Place a foam roller on the ground, going onto all fours place the front of your lower leg on the roller right below the knee. Roll down the shins paying attention to the points of tension; hold or massage in each tender area for 20-30 sec. You can also do one leg at a time and shift your weight on the roller so it gets the outside edge of the lower leg as well.

Feet (Plantar)

Erin Shaw Plantar Roll

Place a ball under the arch of your foot. Massage the arch in small circles, working to both the inside and outside of the foot.

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Static Stretching

Static stretching is when you hold a stretch in a position without moving, in order to lengthen the muscles you wish to stretch. You never want to stretch to the point of pain, just mild discomfort. Hold each stretch for 30 sec-1 min.

Neck

Erin Shaw Trapezius StretchStart with one arm behind your back (do not pull down with lots of force, you don’t want to pull a muscle) then use your opposite hand to tilt your head to the same side as the hand. Hold for at least 30 sec. Repeat on the other side

Erin Shaw Trapezius Stretch 2

Start in the same position, with your hand tilt your head diagonally as if you are trying to look into your pocket. Hold for at least 30 sec. Repeat on the other side.

Erin Shaw Neck Stretch 2

For this stretch you can put your arm behind your back, but you will not be tilting your head with your hand. Instead you will just tilt your head, chin facing up in the air, to stretch the front of your neck. Hold for at least 30 sec. Repeat on the other side.

Shoulders

Erin Shaw Shoulder Stretch

Either standing or seated bring one arm across your chest, bring your opposite arm up and put pressure on the side you are trying to stretch; make sure that your shoulders are as level as possible (no shrugging!) and you are not tilting to one side. Hold for at least 30 sec. Repeat on the other side.

Triceps

Erin Shaw Lat  Stretch

Bring one arm straight up in the air then bend at the elbow so your arm is behind you. Place the opposite hand on the elbow pushing down, in order to feel a stretch. Hold for at least 30 sec. Repeat on the other side.

Chest (Pecs)

Erin Shaw Chest Stretch 2

Using a wall or flat surface place your arm out straight against the wall then rotate your body so that your arm is behind you or as far as you can go into the stretch without pain. Hold for at least 30 sec. Repeat on the other side.

Erin Shaw Chest Stretch

You will need either a doorway, or the corner of a wall. Bring one arm out to the side making a 90 degree angle; place it up against the wall, then take a staggered stance, having the leg opposite to your arm come forward so that you can lean into the stretch. Hold for at least 30 sec. Repeat on the other side.

*For both of these stretches you can also have your arm above or below parallel to the ground, targeting different muscle fibers in the chest.

Lats

Erin Shaw Lat Stretch 3

Kneel down on the ground, place your arms up on a bench (couch, chair, etc.) palms facing. Press down against the bench sinking your hips into the ground, in order to feel a pull along the arms and down the sides of the back. Hold for at least 30 sec.

Erin Shaw Lat Stretch 2Grab on to something stable with one hand (door way, window sill etc.), come into a half squat, bending at the hips and sticking the butt out, you should be pulling down enough so that you feel a pull along your arm and down the back. Make sure not to rotate, keep your hips square, and don’t rotate the torso. Hold for at least 30 sec, and then repeat on the other side. **Don’t let your shoulders shrug up to your ears, just bring the arms straight up without shrugging the shoulders.

Lower Back

Erin Shaw Lower Glute StretchLay down on your back. Bring one leg across your body, use the opposite arm to pull down on the leg until a stretch in the lower back is achieved, without bringing the supporting hip off the ground. Keep the opposite arm out to the side as a support. Hold for at least 30 sec, repeat on the other side. You will likely also feel a stretch in the glutes as well.

Erin Shaw Lower Back StretchLay down on your back, bend the knees and hug your legs into your chest. Lower back shoulder be off the floor. Hold for minimum 30 sec.

Glutes (Piriformis)

Erin Shaw Lower Glute Stretch 2

Lay down on your back with your legs flat. Rotate one leg outward and cross that leg over the other above the knee, bring the straight leg up and wrap your hands around the back of the thigh pulling the legs into the chest as far as you can. Hold for at least 30 sec, and repeat on the other side. This also can be used to stretch the lower back secondary to the piriformis.

Quads

Erin Shaw Quad Stretch 2

While standing bring up one leg; hold the leg at the ankle, push the knee back and the hips forward to get a nice stretch all the way down the quad. You can hold onto a wall for balance if need be. Hold for at least 30 sec, repeat on the other side.

Erin Shaw Quad Stretch

On a mat go into a lunge, bringing the back knee onto the ground, grab the foot or ankle and pull the foot close to the thigh pushing into the forward leg. If need be you can used a band to assist in holding the leg if you can`t reach it. Hold for at least 30 sec, repeat on other side.

IT Band (Secondary: Lower Back and Hamstrings)

Erin Shaw IT Band StretchWhile standing cross one leg in front of the other. Bend at the hips sticking the butt out, shift your weight on the leg that is behind so that most of your weight is on the outside of the foot, and reaching down as far as you can; you will kind of have to lean slightly to the opposite side in order to feel a stretch along the side of the back leg. Hold for 30 sec then switch sides.

Hip Flexor (Secondary: Lat)

Erin Shaw Lat and Quad Stretch

On a mat go into a deep lunge (the knee can either be on the ground or off the ground). Push your weight into the front leg (the knee can come past the toes as long as the foot stays planted) and bring up your arm overhead on the same side of the back leg and bend to the opposite side. Hold for at least 30 sec, repeat on the other side.

Hamstrings

Erin Shaw Hamstring Hurdler Stretch

Sit with one leg in front of you and the other bent with your foot against your leg. Point the toes toward you and reach both arms toward the straight leg, bending at the hip. Grab onto your toes, or leg (however far you can reach, just keep the toes pointed toward you to also stretch the calf). Hold for at least 30 sec, repeat on the other side.

Calves

Erin Shaw Calf Stretch

Stand with your hands against a wall, stepping one foot so the toes are against the wall and heel on the ground, the other leg should be about a foot behind you. Push your weight into the forward leg to create a deep stretch along the calf, the heel on the supporting leg will come up a bit. Hold for at least 30 sec, repeat on the other side.

Shins

Erin Shaw Shin Stretch

Stand with your hands against a wall, stepping one foot backward flexing the ankle so that the toes are the only thing touching the ground, the other leg should be in front for support. Push your toes as far away from you as possible creating a stretch down the shin (from hip to toe it should look pretty close to a straight line). Hold for at least 30 sec, repeat on the other side.

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