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Gentle fitness - Week 3

Stretching and flexibility

These gentle fitness exercises are meant to help you get up and get active.

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ListCat: Gentle fitness tips
ID: 4483

Tips for maintaining flexibility

Build it into your day

(check out our weekly workout video for more ideas)

Standing

  • When in the kitchen use the counter for balance and stretch your hamstrings.
  • When brushing your teeth also stretch your neck by gently tilting your head to the side and your chin toward the floor.
  • Stretch your chest at the kitchen table by placing your hands on the table shoulder width apart hinge at your hips soften your knees and let your chest lower toward the ground.

Seated

  • Give yourself a shoulder and neck massage.
  • Roll out your leg muscles with a rolling pin or massage them with your hand.
  • Change your position regularly so you are not straining the same muscles all day.

Flexibility

(check out our weekly workout video for more ideas)

  • Improving flexibility takes time. Create a stretching routine and try to complete it a few times a week. Flexibility helps with your posture and can reduce back pain.
  • Stretch any body parts that feel tight. Only stretch to a place of action. If you’re breathing changes you are going too deep into the stretch.
  • Start by moving around a bit to warm your body up before you start stretching. Why not turn on some music and dance?
  • Do not combine turning and bending back exercises at the same time. To stretch your back relax in a chair by supporting yourself with your hands on your legs while leaning forward.

Stretching 101

  • Start by moving around to warm up your body before you start stretching. Why not turn on some music and dance or get some fresh air in your yard.
  • Move in your pain-free, strain free range of motion.
  • Breathe slowly as it will relax your body so you can stretch and clear your mind. Focus on the muscle being stretched.
  • Hold each stretch 5 to 7 breaths. Focus on your breath.
  • Only stretch to a place of action. If you find you are holding your breath you are going too deep into the stretch. Always ease into a stretch slowly so your muscles can relax to stretch.
  • Stretches should be felt in the belly of the muscle never at a joint.
  • Avoid locking your joints (knees and elbows), always keep a little micro bend at the joint.
  • Stretch any body part that feels tight.
  • Keep your spine in mind, if doing a stretch for your legs or arms, keep your spine in neutral.
  • Large range of motion activities count as dynamic stretching, slow and controlled movements like shoulder rolls, hip circles and leg swings are equally as effective when it comes to increasing a joints range.
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ListCat: Disclaimer
ID: 4333

There is risk of injury when participating in exercise, physical fitness and physical training programs. If you have any concerns or questions about whether or not you should participate in exercise activities demonstrated on this website or videos offered on this website, you should consult with a physician or other health-care professional before starting any exercises.

The purpose of this NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER OF LIABILITY is to inform you that this website offers health and fitness information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

BY PARTICIPATING IN EXERCISE ACTIVITIES FEATURED OR VIDEOS OFFERED ON THIS WEBSITE, YOU DO SO FREELY AND VOLUNATARILY AND ASSUME ALL OF THE RISKS AND HAZARDS OF PARTICIPATION, INCLUDING THE LEGAL RISK. THE CITY OF CALGARY DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES AND ASSUMES NO LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY LOSS, PERSONAL INJURY (INCLUDING DEATH) OR DAMAGE (INCLUDING PROPERTY DAMAGE) SUFFERED BY ANY PERSON AS A RESULT OF THE USE OR MISUSE OF ANY INFORMATION, THIS WEBSITE AND VIDEOS MADE AVAILABLE ON THIS WEBSITE.

In consideration of performing or participating in these exercises shown on this website, you hereby agree to release and hold harmless The City of Calgary its officers, employees, volunteers and agents, against any loss, liability, damage, cause of action, cost, or expense of any nature whatsoever, including without limitation reasonable solicitors’ fees and other legal costs.

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side bend stretch

1. Side Bend

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Side Bend Stretch
ID: 4484

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Sit up straight in a chair and look directly ahead of you.

Lift one arm up and above your head and slowly bend sideways while reaching down with the opposite hand, until you feel a stretch at the side of your trunk.

When you bend your trunk sideways, do not twist or lean forward. Keep your body straight and facing forward.​

Repeat on the other side.​

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front hip stretch

2. Front of Hip Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Front of Hip Stretch
ID: 4485

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Sit on the edge of a chair and extend one leg back, keeping one cheek on the seat. Keep your back neutral.​​

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You should feel a comfortable stretch on the front of your hip.​​

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Hold the position as recommended and breathe normally.​​​​​

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 seated hamstring stretch

3. Seated Hamstring Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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ListCat: Seated Hamstrings Stretch
ID: 4486

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Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with one leg straight out in front of you and the other knee bent.​​

Stick your hips back while keeping your back straight, as you bend forward to feel a stretch behind your straight leg (avoid locking the knee)​​.​

Repeat on the other side.​


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glute stretch

4. Glute Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Glute Stretch
ID: 4487

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Sit on a bench or chair. Cross one leg over the other.

With both hands, pull the knee toward the opposite shoulder and hold when you feel a comfortable stretch.

Modification: If crossing your legs is not an option then place the feet close to one another and hinge forward at the hip until you feel a stretch.​

Repeat on the other side.​​


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chest stretch

5. Chest Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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ListCat: Chest Stretch
ID: 4489

*This can be done seated in a chair or standing with your arms out to the sides.

Simultaneously extend the spine, pick the chest up and externally rotate the shoulders by pointing the thumbs behind you.

Keep the head and neck in a neutral or packed position (which resembles a double chin).

Be careful not to move your head forward. lower your arms if you feel strain in the shoulders.​​


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shoulder stretch

6. Shoulder Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Shoulder Stretch
ID: 4490

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Stand behind a chair with both hand on the back of the chair.​​

Backup a few step and lower your upper body by bending forward until you feel a stretch in front of your shoulder. Keep your spine in neutral.

Avoid locking the knees.​​​


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Some non-chair stretches

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side bend stretch 

1. Side Bend Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Stretching side bend
ID: 4453

Stand straight with your feet hip width apart and look directly ahead of you. 

Lift one arm up above your head and slowly bend sideways while reaching down with the opposite hand, until you feel a stretch at the side of your trunk.

Maintain the stretch without twisting or leaning forward. Slowly return to initial position.

Repeat on the other side.​​


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Hamstring stretch 

2. Hamstring Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Hamstring stretch
ID: 4454

Place one foot forward while pressing your heel into the ground and toes towards your shin.

Keep your back in neutral as you hinge forward from the hips. Keep a little micro-bend in the knee to avoid locking it. Lower the torso until there is a slight pull in the back of the thigh.

Repeat with the opposite leg.​​


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Chest stretch 

3. Chest Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Chest stretch
ID: 4455

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Place your palm on the wall with your arm outstretched horizontally, at or slightly below 90 degrees, with respect to the body.

Keeping your palm on the wall, twist the torso away from the direction of the hand, until a stretch is felt in the chest muscle.​​

Hold the position for the recommended time and breathe slowly.

Repeat on the other side.​​​​

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quadriceps stretch

4. Quadriceps Stretch

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Stretch your quadriceps
ID: 4456

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Stand behind a chair and hold on to the backrest with one hand.

Grab the top of the ankle or your sock or pant leg, with the free hand and pull your foot towards your buttock until you feel a gentle stretch in front of the thigh.

Hold the stretch, keeping your lower back neutral.​​

Repeat on the other side.

*modification: see the next exercise


Alternative quadriceps stretch

5. Quadriceps Modified Stretch

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ListCat: Modified Quadriceps Stretch
ID: 4621

​​Lie on your side and grab the top ankle, sock or pant leg with one hand to pull your foot towards your buttocks until you feel a gentle stretch on the elevated leg.

Hold the stretch, keeping your lower back neutral and return to the initial position.

Repeat on the other side.


hip flexors

6. Hip Flexor Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Stretch your hip flexors
ID: 4458

In a split stance with the rear leg internally rotated/slightly turned in. Tilt your pelvis forward trying to round the low back. Feel the front of the hip being stretched.

Next, raise your arm, the same side as the back leg, up and over the opposite side while maintaining the hip position.

Repeat on the other side.


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stretching the side leg

7. Side Leg Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Stretch the side of your leg
ID: 4459

​​Stand next to a wall with the legs toward the wall. Cross over the leg furthest from the wall and push your hips towards the wall until you feel a stretch on the side of your thigh and buttocks.

Keep the foot of the stretched leg pointed forward. Hold the stretch.

​​Repeat on the other side.

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adductors stretch

8. Inner Thigh Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Stretch your adductors
ID: 4460

​​Sit in a chair, facing the back of it. Be aware of your posture and sit with a long spine.

Widen your legs and move/hinge forward from the hips towards the chair back-rest so as to stretch your groin muscles.

​​Hold the position.

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Stretching your SCM

9. Neck Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Stretch your SCM
ID: 4461

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Sit and place both hands over the collarbone.

Gently pull it down towards the floor with your hands. You should essentially feel the skin moving downward gently. 

Raise your chin and lean your head sideways away from hands until a stretch is felt along the side of the neck.

Your head should be moving slightly away from the hand that is on the collarbone. Maintain the stretch.​​

Repeat on the other side.​​​​​​


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back stretch

10. Back Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Stretch your back
ID: 4462

​​Hold a stable object in front of you with one hand using an overhand grip (palm down).

Lean forward by bending at the hips while pushing the hips backward.

Turn your hips slightly to one side to accentuate the stretch along the opposite side of your armpit and shoulder blade. Hold the position for the recommended time.

Repeat on the other side.​​


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standing calf stretch

11. Standing Calf Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Standing calf stretch
ID: 4463

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Stand and place both hands on a wall, with your feet about half a meter from the wall.

Place one leg behind the other and lean your body forward without bending the back knee until you feel a stretch in your back lower leg (calf). Maintain the stretch and relax.​​

Repeat on the other side.​​​​


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stretching glutes

12. Glute Stretch

1 Set, Hold: 30s

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Row Count: 1
ListCat: Stretch your glutes
ID: 4464

​​Lie on your back with your knees bent, place one foot over the opposite knee.

​​Grab behind the leg that is on the ground with your hands and pull it toward you until you feel a gentle stretch. Maintain the position and relax.

You can guide your knee backward slightly to increase the stretch. *If your neck is uncomfortable, place a folded towel under it so that your neck is neutral.

​​Repeat on the other side.

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