Functional assessment and dynamic, informed treatment. It’s healthcare, for your muscles.

    Cat-Cow Spine Stretch

    If you have ever been to a yoga class, you have likely done cat/cow. This yoga essential consists of moving the spine from a rounded position (flexion) to an arched one (extension). It’s a basic motion, but one that is enormously beneficial in preventing back pain and maintaining a healthy spine.  If you spend a lot of time sitting, you will find adding this to your daily routine very helpful.

    1. Start on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.

    2. Start with your spine in a neutral position, picturing it nice and flat

    3. Keep the neck long, as the natural extension of the spine.

    Inhale

    1. Tilt your pelvis back so that your tail sticks up.

    3. Let this movement ripple from your tailbone up your spine so that your neck is the last thing to move.

    4. Your belly drops down, but keep your abdominal muscles hugging your spine by drawing your navel in.

    5. Take your gaze up gently up toward the ceiling without cranking your neck.

    Exhale

    1. Tip your pelvis forward, tucking your tailbone. Let this action move up your spine.

    2. Your spine will naturally round.

    3. Draw your navel toward your spine.

    4. Drop your head, and take your gaze to your navel.

    Repeat the cat-cow stretch on each inhale and exhale, matching the movement to your own breath.

    Here’s a video we created to help show you what it looks like!

     

     

    Hip Mobility – 90/90 Stretch

    The hip girdle area is anatomically complex. There are 17 muscles which are associated with the hip area, each working together to give the hip joint mobility. Your hips drive many of your daily movements, including walking to squatting. Athletes and people who work jobs which require them to sit a lot may experience mobility issues with their hips.

    The 90/90 stretch is designed to increase mobility and function.

    To start the 90/90 stretch, find a comfortable seat on the floor or other flat, relatively level surface. You may want to sit on an exercise mat or folded towel to cushion your sitting bones. place one leg directly in front of you with the outer thigh and outer part of the shin resting on the floor, and bend your knee at a 90-degree angle. Your front thigh should be perpendicular to your body. Extend your other leg out to your side with the inner thigh of your back leg resting on the floor, and also bend the knee at a 90-degree angle. Now rotate your legs from one side to the other.

    We made this video to help you when you’re doing it at home.

    Five Easy Shoulder Stretches to do at Home

    Considering the amount of time many of us spend either at our desks on our computers, using our phones, or carrying heavy bags and purses, it’s not surprising that many of our clients come to us with neck and shoulder tension. Shoulder and neck tension also play a part in some types of headaches.

    The shoulder is a large and complex joint, made up of three bones: the clavicle or collarbone, the scapula or shoulder blade, and the humerus or upper arm bone.  The stability of the area comes from the many muscles which makes up the shoulder which you can see in the image below:


    If we overuse, or misuse, these muscles in one or more areas, we are left with a soreness and sometimes also a limited range of motion.

    Here are some easy shoulder stretches which you may do anywhere to help keep your shoulder healthy. To get the most benefits, you should do each stretch for about thirty seconds, and repeat the series three times.

    1. Eagle Arms

    Extend your arms straight in front of your body. Drop your left arm under your right.

    Bend your elbows, and then raise your forearms perpendicular to the floor. Wrap your arms and hands, and press your palms together (or as close as you can get them). Lift your elbows and reach your fingertips toward the ceiling. Keep your shoulder blades pressing down your back toward your waist.

    If your palms don’t touch, press the backs of your hands together, instead, or hold onto a strap. Repeat on the other side.

    1. Cow Face

    Reach your left fingers between the shoulder blades, and reach your right hand around the back to grasp the left fingers. Gently pull the arms towards each other. Hold for five breathes and repeat on the other side.

    If your arms don’t reach (which many of us with tight shoulders will experience), use a strap! Hang the strap over your left shoulder, bring your right hand toward the middle of your back. Reach your left hand between your shoulder blades and grab onto the strap with both hands. Repeat on the other side.

     

    1. Wall stretch

    Stand in front of doorframe bend elbow at 90-degree angle and place palm against doorframe. Move forward to stretch rotator cuff.

     

    1. Scapular Setting

    While doing this pose, focus on isolating your shoulder blades and not just moving your shoulders up and down.

    Start in a comfortable standing position with arms at your side. Move your shoulder blades up, then out (pushing away from your body), then down

     

    1. Neck stretch

    Using shoulder position from the scapular setting, lower you chin down toward your chest and feel the stretch throughout the back of your neck. Then lower your right ear to your right shoulder, holding for five breaths. Repeat on the left side.

     

    Doing these stretches once or twice a day will go a long way in keeping your shoulders feeling healthy!

    Seated Calf Stretch

    The strong muscles of the calf can be quite tight, especially after prolonged standing or walking, and for many athletes whose sport of choice involves running or jumping.  To best stretch these muscles, grab a bolster or pillow and have a seat; start with both feet extended out in front of you with the pillow under your knees so that they’re slightly bent.  Flex your ankle back so that your toes are toward the ceiling.  Using your hand — or a belt if you can’t reach — pull back slowly on the arch or ball of your foot until a stretch is felt in the lower calf.  Hold until the stretch sensation diminishes.  Remove the pillow and repeat the stretch; this time the sensation of pull may travel all the way behind the knee.

    For best results, stretch one calf at a time and repeat the stretch two or three times per leg.  Be patient, as the calf muscles can take a while to relax.  Once the initial stretch sensation lessens, you can deepen the stretch by pulling back a little more on the ball of the foot.

    Standing Calf Stretch

    Tight calf muscles are prone to cramping: the dreaded “charlie horse” that wakes you up in the middle of the night or attacks as you move from sitting to standing.  The large muscles in the back of the lower leg are the soleus and gastrocnemius, both of which attach into the Achilles tendon and run vertically along the back of the lower leg. The soleus attaches to the lower leg bones, and the ‘gastrocs’ attach just above the knee on either side of the femur.  Because only one of these two muscles (collectively referred to as the Triceps Surae) passes the knee, to effectively stretch them both, you must stretch twice: with the knee bent to stretch the soleus, and with it flexed to stretch the gastrocs.

    Stand facing a wall, close enough that you can rest the ball of your foot against it while your heel stays on the ground.  Your opposite leg should be a step behind you for balance.  Place your hands against the wall and lean forward toward the wall, keeping your knee straight, until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg.  Hold this position for about 30 seconds or until the stretch sensation lessens.  Slowly bend the knee by lowering your body a bit toward the ground, until a stretch is felt.  This time, the stretch sensation will be closer to the Achilles.  Hold until the sensation lessens, and then repeat on the opposite leg.

    Biceps Floss Stretch

    This stretch targets the biceps muscles of the upper arm that bend the elbow and flex the arm forward at the shoulder joint.  These strong muscles run alongside  nerves that stem from the neck and run into the arm, and when tight or swollen, they can restrict the nerves and cause pain, weakness, or pins and needles.   The biceps also play a strong role in posture; short biceps roll the shoulders forward and down, increasing strain on the triceps and upper back muscles.

    Stand with one arm against a wall, extending it back behind you at shoulder height, fingers spread wide.  Maintaining contact with the your hand and the wall, turn your body away until a gentle stretch is felt along the upper arm or inside surface of the elbow.  Slowly side-bend your neck away from the side you’re stretching to increase the stretch further.  Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly relax your neck back to neutral and release your arm. Repeat on the opposite side.

    Banded Tricep & Shoulder Stretch

    This is an advanced mobility technique that uses an exercise band to increase the intensity of the triceps stretch, and helps release restrictions in the shoulder capsule – a collection of fibrous ligaments, tendons and connective tissues that form the shoulder joint.  This stretch is excellent to increase or regain range of motion following a shoulder injury, and can help combat the internal (forward) rotation of the shoulders that often accompanies a rounded upper back (hyperkyphotic) posture.

    To stretch the right side: attach one end of a heavyweight exercise band to the door knob of a closed door.  Take the other end in your right hand, wrapping the band around your hand/wrist as need to avoid slipping and increase the resistance.  Turn your body 180′ COUNTER-clockwise, fully bending your elbow so that it points toward the ceiling.  Your wrist should be behind your right ear and your back  facing the door, as if you were dragging it behind you.    To increase the stretch, take a lunge step forward, allowing the band to pull your arm back a little bit.  Keep your elbow pointed straight to the ceiling and tucked as close to your head as possible. To increase the stretch in the shoulder capsule, gently turn your palm up toward the ceiling.  Hold for 1 minute before releasing.

    To stretch the left side: Wrap the free end of the band around your left hand/wrist, turn your body 180′  CLOCKWISE and repeat as above.

    Advanced Lunging Hip Stretch

    Chronic tension in the muscles at the front and sides of the hips can contribute to low back pain and poor posture.  This stretch is particularly helpful for hip flexor contracture and ITB syndrome when combined with glute strengthening exercises.  Changing toe positions of the back foot helps target different muscle fibers for a more complete stretch!

    Stand in front of a chair, take a small step back with the leg you want to stretch, then place the opposite foot onto the chair so that you are standing in a lunge position with the forward leg elevated.  The toes of both feet should be facing forward.  Press your hips forward and tuck your tailbone under, increasing the stretch felt in the front of the hip of the back leg.  Hold for thirty seconds, then return to standing.

    Repeat the stretch again, this time with the toes of the back foot pointed out away from your midline. The stretch should be felt along the bikini line and into the inner thigh.  After 30 seconds, return to standing again and reposition the toes of the back foot pointing in toward your midline . Being careful not to lock the knee, once again place the opposite foot on the chair in front of you and press your hips forward, tucking the tailbone.  This time the stretch will be felt along the front and outside of the hip.  Release after 30 seconds and repeat all three stages on the opposite hip.

    Forearm Flexor Stretch

    If you spend long hours at a computer, this stretch is for you! The muscles in the forearm cross the wrist via the carpal tunnel; when tight, they can cause pain in the wrist and hand.  Stretch them by holding your arm out in front of you, palm facing up.  Keeping your elbow straight, bend your wrist back so that your fingers point toward the floor.  Use your other hand to increase the stretch by pulling back on your palm.  Hold the stretch for at 30 seconds or until a release is felt, then repeat on the other side.

    Nose-to-Armpit Levator Stretch

    This stretch targets the muscle that shrugs your shoulders, the Levator Scapulae.  It attaches to the top of your shoulder-blade, and to the sides of the uppermost bones of the neck.  To stretch, first side-bend your head away from the side you want to stretch, and hold for a couple of breaths.  Secure the arm on the stretching side behind your back to keep your shoulder down.  Next, gently rotate and nod your head so that your nose is pointing into your armpit.  Increase the stretch if desired by gently pulling your head farther into the stretch with your opposite hand.  Hold for 30 seconds or until a release is felt.

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    Alycia Duff-Bergeron, Founder and Clinic Director

    When I opened Anatomica in 2013 as my private practice, I was committed to offering an unsurpassed level of service and care to every client.  Today I have the pleasure of working with a skillful team of therapists and administrative staff that are equally committed to raising the bar in their fields and providing exceptional treatment. Our therapists are dedicated, professional, and focused on your health. Anatomica proudly offers some of the most effective manual therapy and functional assessment techniques, performed by therapists with several years of practical experience, all of whom demonstrate a considerable effort to further their educations and understanding of current treatment protocols. We invite you to visit Anatomica to experience effective, personalized healthcare in an inclusive space, staffed by practitioners that are setting a new standard of professionalism. We are Anatomica. Welcome.