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Exercising for Flexibility


Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Being flexible gives you more freedom of movement for other exercises as well as for your everyday activities.

  • Shoulder and upper arm stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Yoga

Sample Flexibility Exercise: Shoulder and Upper Arm

How Much, How Often

Do each stretching exercise 3 to 5 times at each session. Slowly and smoothly stretch into the desired position, as far as possible without pain. Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Relax, breathe, then repeat, trying to stretch farther.


As you become more flexible, try reaching farther in each exercise. But don't go so far that it hurts.

Exercise Instructions:

This exercise to increase flexibility in your shoulders and upper arms will help make it easier to reach for your seatbelt. If you have shoulder problems, talk with your doctor before trying this stretch.

Targeted Muscles:
Shoulders and upper arms

What You Need:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold one end of a towel in your right hand.
  • Raise and bend your right arm to drape the towel down your back. Keep your right arm in this position and continue holding on to the towel.
  • Reach behind your lower back and grasp the towel with your left hand.
  • To stretch your right shoulder, pull the towel down with your left hand. Stop when you feel a stretch or slight discomfort in your right shoulder.
  • Repeat at least 3-5 times.
  • Reverse positions, and repeat at least 3-5 times.

  • If you've had hip or back surgery, talk with your doctor before doing lower-back flexibility exercises.
  • Always warm up before stretching exercises. Stretching your muscles before they are warmed up can result in injury. If you are doing only stretching exercises, warm up with a few minutes of easy walking first. If you are doing endurance or strength exercises, stretch after, not before.
  • Always remember to breathe normally while holding a stretch.
  • A mild pulling feeling while you are stretching is normal. If you feel sharp or stabbing pain or joint pain, you're stretching too far. Reduce the stretch so it doesn't hurt.
  • Always stretch with a smooth, steady movement. Don't jerk or bounce into the stretch; it may cause injury.
  • Avoid "locking" your joints. Straighten your arms and legs when you stretch them, but don't hold them tightly in a straight position. Always keep them slightly bent while stretching.

Spring 2012 Issue: Volume 7 Number 1 Page 10