Safe Stretching

The most important part of this is too take it slowly, don't rush, don't make this a challenge and push yourself, this is neither training nor exercise, this is basically to get your muscles to become longer.

First warm up. It does seem reasonable to assume that the stretch will be more effective, and injury less likely, if the muscle is warm, and with lots of nice oxygenated bloody flowing through it; however there is some debate over whether a warm up will reduce the risk of injury. I have seen a fair few injuries which are the result of over enthusiastic attempts at a new "exercise", if it is new (say a kick) take it easy and don't push it to the max.

There is also considerable debate of how much, how often, how long etc. a stretch needs to be done. According to Bandy & Irion [1994,1997] this can be achieved by one 30 second stretch, five days a week. Since this is the conclusion of scientific study rather than the opinion of some "expert" I'm using this as a guideline; until someone emails me to tell me I'm full of c**p again.

These are the stretches that get my five star award, remember I am over forty and looking for the gentle options.


Cat Stretch. Get on all fours, like a press up position but on your knees. Arch your back up, hold and down -just like a cat, hence the name. I generally do this thirty times as part of a warm up, taking around a minute; and then hold the convex (back up) stretch for thirty seconds, followed by the concave (back down) stretch for thirty seconds.

Multifidius Stretch (I just bet I have got the spelling wrong on that baby). The most difficult bit of this is the name (mult - tee - fid -ee-us). Start from the same position as the cat stretch. Extend the right hand out, and the left leg, and ... fall over. Yes there is an element of balance needed here, try putting a cushion or pillow under your knees, this will make the exercise a bit more comfortable. Try again. Right hand out, left leg out; hold for five seconds and return to the all fours positions. Now Left hand and right leg. This exercise is working on the muscle that "binds" your spine together, but work all the back muscles nicely. Do thirty right hands, and thirty left hands (that is thirty "sets"), follow this with sixteen pushup on the knees. I use knee push ups (16), multifidius stretch (30), knee push ups (16), multifidius stretch (30), knee push ups (16), multifidius stretch (30), knee push ups (16) as part of my everyother day back conditioning that keeps me out of the osteopaths surgery. For those with back problems -it works! An advanced option on this is to use weights on the legs (I'm not a great fan of full pushups by the way, a little too much pressure on the lower back). You can do the knee push ups alternatively with "spider hands" which is where you put all your finger tips (and thumb tip) to the floor instead of the flat palm. This give you the ability to crush other people's hands during handshakes; not that I would do that to people, but as an union rep I sometimes get to meet the management.

Sides (external obliques)

Knee Bends. Put one hand on the wall and the other on your waist, and pinch an inch or two (for no particular reason). Raise your knee up to a comfortable height. Do three sets of ten at around one second. Then change round and do the other leg/side.

Side Bends. Having warmed up the sides with the above exercise, now we do the stretch. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, keeping a slight bend in your legs. Slowly bend over to one side, until you feel a stretch along your side. Your arms can be on your hips or in the air, feel free to experiment. Avoid leaning forward or back, and keep the movement smooth with no bouncing. Again stretch and hold for 30 seconds, one per side, although if you are enjoying yourself, what the hell do it three times.

Sorry a work in progress at the moment: Coming Soon ...


Forearms and Wrists


Chest (Pectoralis)

Buttocks (Gluteals)

Groin (adductors)

Thights (quadriceps and abductors)

Calves (gastrocnemius and soleus)