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Stretch It Out!

-- As we headinto prime outdoor sports season, we tend to get more involved in physicalactivities. On Friday's Early Show, fitness contributor, MinnaLessig showed us how to properly stretch to prevent some common injuries,aches and pains.

Minna recommends that we stretch right after a workoutbecause body temperature is elevated, so muscles are more pliable due toincreased blood circulation. It is always a smart idea to do a lightcardio warm-up (walking on treadmill for 5-10 min) followed by light,gentle stretches before a workout. When doing static stretching hold for10-30 seconds and then repeat for 2-3 times.

Stretching Tips

  • Stretching should never be painful. If a muscle is shaking, or you have pain, ease up.

  • Remember to breathe. Don't hold your breath. Breathe in through your nose and then out through your mouth.

  • Never bounce. It can cause microtears in the muscle which result in inflexible scar tissue.

  • Have patience; make the mind-to-muscle connection. Talk to your body while you stretch; encourage relaxation.

Avoid Common Injuries

ROTATOR CUFF INJURY PREVENTION: Common in sports such as tennis,swimming and even baseball (pitchers), because they all involve constantmotion of the arm directly overhead. This position done repeatedly canlead to inflammation of the rotator cuff muscles which then makes youvulnerable to an impingement of the shoulder joint.


  • Circumduction (clockwise and counterclockwise circles with the arms). These exercises help bring blood flow into the shoulder joint to warm it up before sports.

  • Horizontal abduction (reaching arms at shoulder height, behind your back).

  • External rotation with wood stick.

LOWER BACK PAIN: Common causes of lower back pain are tighthamstrings and hip flexors, weak abdominals and obesity. Consult yourdoctor to determine the problem since different problems (herniation,pinched nerve) have different treatments and some stretches may aggravateit further.


  • Double knee to the chest. Lying on the ground, this directly stretches the lower back.

  • Single knee to the chest. This is great for assessing if you have tight hip flexors. If the straight leg has to raise off the ground as you stretch, it is indicative of tight hip flexors.

  • Bent knee hamstring stretch. Done with towel, lying onground.

SHIN SPLINTS: Some common causes are: improper running shoes,running on uneven surfaces, structural abnormalities (like flat feet orweak soles of feet).


  • Standing shin stretch.

  • Toe taps to demonstrate a good warm up exercise before running or jumping.

TENNIS ELBOW: Common causes include: overuse of the forearmmuscles, a tennis racket strung too tight and/or bad backhand mechanics intennis.


  • Wrist flexion - Palms face down, making a fist, assist stretch with other hand.

  • Wrist extension ("STOP" motion with hand, assist with other)

  • Proper warmup of wrists/forearms with circles. Even finger exercises done with the hand ball.

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