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Health & Exercise Forum

Stay Limber and Stay Healthy

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Oct 26, 2015

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise Forum


October is National Physical Therapy Month! The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) would like to raise public awareness of the thousands of dedicated physical therapists as health care providers. Moreover, physical therapists would like to thank the public for allowing us to participate in your health and wellness.

This column will address a question that is frequently asked by people of all ages and activity levels…stretching. First, it is important to keep in mind that stretching should NEVER be performed without warming up your body and muscles first. This can be done by running slowly in place or around the block for 5-10 minutes. Second, stretching should NEVER be painful. Third, a good stretch should be performed slowly and feel like slight tension in the muscle. NEVER bounce or jerk. First, perform the stretches by actively moving your muscles slowly and deliberately 5-10 times. Then, hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds, repeat 5-10 times, 2-4 times per week.

Remember, flexibility is only one aspect of complete health and wellness. Strength training, cardiovascular fitness, meditation and stress management and proper nutrition are also necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Also, be careful not to overstretch before competition as it may weaken the muscle.

Ten Most Common Stretches

  1. CALF STRETCH: Stand with your feet facing a wall shoulder width apart. Step your right foot back keeping it facing forward. Bend your left knee and keep the right knee straight Lean forward and push against a wall for the best stretch, keeping heels on the floor. Feel the stretch at the back of your right leg below the knee Repeat on the left
  2. QUAD STRETCH: Stand with your left arm holding on to a stable object for balance. Bend your right knee and bring the heel up toward your butt by pulling up/back with your right hand. Feel the stretch at the front of your right thigh. Repeat on the left
  3. HAMSTRING STRETCH: Lying on your back, clasp the back of your right knee. Straighten out your right knee slowly up toward the sky Feel the stretch at the back of your right thigh. Repeat with your left leg straight.
  4. GROIN STRETCH: Sit with your legs bent with heels together. (Indian Sit) Hold your ankles or feet with both hands. Keep your back straight and stomach in. Push your knees toward the floor. Feel the stretch on the inside of your thighs.
  5. LOW BACK FLEXION STRETCH: Lie on your back and raise your knees to your chest. Hold the knees with both your hands. Feel the stretch at the bottom of your back.
  6. LOW BACK EXTENSION STRETCH: Lie on your belly and prop up on your forearms. Hold this position and inhale and exhale. Feel the stretch in the small of your back.
  7. TRUNK SIDE STRETCH: Stand with your left hand on your hip and your right arm above your head. Bend to the left without leaning forward or back. Feel the stretch on your right side. Repeat with your left arm.
  8. TRUNK ROTATION STRETCH: Stand upright with feet shoulder width apart. Cross arms over chest and turn to the right with your upper trunk. Keep lower body facing straight. Feel the stretch on the left lower back and trunk. Repeat turning to the left.
  9. SHOULDER STRETCH: Take your right arm across your chest. Use your left hand to pull your right elbow across your chest. Keep your body facing forward. Feel the stretch on the back of your right shoulder. Repeat with your left arm.
  10. CHEST STRETCH: Stand facing a corner with feet 12 inches away and put both arms up in a “T” position Lean into wall with chest and keep feet away from wall Feel the stretch in your biceps and chest.

MODEL: Dana Dommermuth, PT Aide, Mackarey Physical Therapy

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum” in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor  in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.