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Six Soothing Stretches


Most seasoned exercisers know the importance of stretching every day. But even if you don't exercise regularly, stretching several times a week can help you improve and maintain your muscle strength and flexibility. 

Learn more about the importance of stretching
for flexibility, balance, and preventing falls

To help maintain and improve your flexibility, try these 6 soothing stretches at the start and/or end of each day:

  • Seated deep-breathing stretch
    • Start sitting up straight and comfortably on the floor or on the edge of a chair
    • Close your eyes
    • Try clearing your mind of all thoughts
    • Inhale through your nose, counting at a comfortable, even pace, saying to yourself as you breathe in,
      1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi, 4 Mississippi
    • Hold your breath in and count to 4 as you did when breathing in
    • Exhale through your nose and count to 4 similarly as you breathe out
    • Hold your exhaled breath for 4 of the evenly paced counts
    • Repeat your breathing stretch cycle 10 times, focusing more deeply and completely
      on only your breathing with each new cycle
  • Seated torso and shoulder stretch
    • Intertwine your fingers together in your lap
    • Breathe in deeply, slowly, and evenly, counting as you did for the deep breathing stretch above
    • Raise your arms above your head, facing your palms toward the ceiling
    • Keep your arms aligned with your ears
    • Look straight in front of you, keeping your head straight, your neck relaxed, and your gaze at eye level
    • Relax your shoulders
    • Relax your back muscles
    • Hold the posture for 5 full breaths, counting at a comfortable and even pace
      just as you did for the deep breathing stretch
    • Release your breath in the same paced, 4 counts, while releasing your arms to rest by your sides
    • Gently roll your shoulders forward and backward 5 times
    • Repeat the cycle of stretches 5 times
  • Standing yoga eagle-arms shoulder stretch
    • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart or sit comfortably upright 
    • Bring your arms up in front of you, crossing your arms at the elbows, right arm under the left arm
    • Bend your elbows
    • Slowly wrap your hands around until you touch your palms together
    • Drop your elbows slightly and let your fingers point out in front of you
    • Keep your arms in line with your nose and the center of your body
    • Feel the stretch through the upper part of your back and between your shoulder blades
    • Hold the stretch for 6 to 8 comfortably paced breaths, while feeling your muscles relax into the stretch
    • Then lift the elbows slightly so that your fingers are in front of your nose for a deeper stretch
    • Feel the stretch down between the shoulder blades toward the middle part of your back
    • Repeat this stretch with the left arm under the right arm
  • Chest-opening stretch
    • Stand in a relaxed position with your feet hip-distance apart
    • Reach both arms behind you
    • Clasp your hands together in a fist behind you at your lower back
    • Keep your gaze in front of you
    • Lift your clasped hands slowly and gently as far as you can without discomfort,
      pulling your shoulder blades together
    • Repeat this stretch several times
  • Hanging stretch
    • Stand in a relaxed position with your feet hip-distance apart
    • Bend your knees slightly
    • Bend over slowly at the waist and let your head, back, neck, and torso hang into the stretch
    • With your head hanging down, grasp your elbows with your hands
    • Breathe deeply at a comfortable pace 3 to 5 times
    • Stand up straight slowly
    • Repeat the stretch several or more times
    • To relax your neck, nod your head gently yes and no while you are bent over and your head is hanging
  • Iliotibial (IT) band hip and buttock stretch
    • Lie comfortably on the floor
    • Bend your left leg, keeping your left foot flat on the floor
    • Place your right ankle on top of your left knee
    • Grasp your left thigh with your hands and pull it gently toward you
    • Keep both feet flexed and breathe deeply, feeling the stretch in your right hip and buttock 
    • Repeat the stretch on the opposite side, bending your right leg and placing the left ankle over the right knee
    • Repeat the stretch cycle several times