Stretches & Crunches

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Stretches & Crunches

Benefits of Stretches & Crunches

Muscle Group:

Abs, Core, Arms, Neck

Categories:

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Equipment:

Exercise Mat, Dumbells

When you can barely squeeze a workout into your day, taking time to focus on flexibility may feel like, well, a stretch. But stretching is an important part of fitness: It can improve your range of motion, increase circulation, and calm your mind—which may help fend off injuries and illness, as well as bring on a better night’s sleep. To limber up, try the following quick head-to-toe routine created by Mike Hannah, a senior fitness trainer, in New Hyde Park, NY. Do the complete series once daily. Deepen each stretch with every exhalation, and stop if you feel any strain or pain.

Crunches

Protect your neck when you’re doing crunches by ensuring you’re using your abs, not your neck muscles, to do a crunch. To avoid straining your neck, look straight up at the ceiling during the entire crunch, and allow your hands to support your head.

Use a Swiss ball to do cervical crunches. Balance with your shoulders resting toward the end of the ball, and extend your head back. Place your fingers at your jaw to support your neck as you bring your head up, to touch your chin toward your chest. Hold the flexed position for three to five seconds and repeat 10 times.

 

Stretches

Lay down and stretch your arms over your head. Keep your shoulder blades and lower back flat, against the floor, throughout the exercise. Move your arms down, to a 90-degree angle. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Stretch your trap muscles (the large, triangular muscles extending over the back of the neck and shoulders) by gently pulling your head to the right with your right hand. Perform on the opposite side. Hold for five seconds and repeat several times in each direction, including forward and backward.
To stretch your scalene muscles, a.k.a., the muscles on the side of your neck, hold onto the back of a chair and look up and into the corner (diagonal of the room). This causes your first rib to elevate, and aids proper breathing.

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