Easy stretching moves to relieve body of pain

LOS ANGELES ( KABC) Wednesday, January 30, 2013:

Stretching only takes a moment, yet most of us don't do it at all, and because we don't, our bodies could be subject to unnecessary pain.

"It comes to my attention that people spend more time on the health of their teeth than they do the rest of their body," said Phase IV physical therapist Robert Forster.

Forster says we don't even do the basics to keep our system running smoothly, namely simple stretching.

"The fascia, the tendons the ligaments, they by nature tighten over time. If you leave them unstretched, they will shorten," Forster said.

And that shortening alters the position of joints at the bone, which causes poor posture, and that can lead to injury. Many of us sit for long periods of time, and that can result in tight hip joints, which can affect the spine.

Slouching at the computer or car causes the chest to tighten, head to jut forward and the upper back is thrown out of alignment, creating a host of hurt. But small stretch breaks throughout the day can really help.

If you've been listening to people in the fitness community, they will tell you stretching cold muscles can be harmful, and that you actually need to warm up tissues to make them relaxed. Forster says that's simply not true.

"Shy of death, your body is never cold. At normal body temperature, your connective tissues will stretch just fine," Forster said.

He says roll onto the floor in the morning and stretch glutes and low back by crossing one leg over the other, twisting at the waist and reaching the opposite arm overhead to stretch the pec and shoulder.

To stretch the hip flexor, kneel on one leg leaning forward into the front leg. Then sit the glute back a bit and straighten the front leg to stretch hamstrings. Of course, do both sides.

"10 seconds stretch, one or two repetitions, and move on," Forster said. "That's a quick release that gets you ready for your day."

If an area is super tight, hold stretches longer - up to 30 seconds.

Tiffany Egan of Venice said she was surprised at the relief she got by simply holding hands up behind her, and then behind her head leaning back a bit. Both open the chest and strengthen upper back.

And give your neck relief by grabbing one hand behind the waist and looking in the opposite direction.