Stretching for Joy

By Maria Isabel Cubillo

Photo by

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As the semester progresses, we may be starting to feel the discomfort from long periods of sitting down, whether that be in class or long commutes. Feeling pain at the end of the day is not normal even if it can become a normal part of our sedentary lives.

Though at first we may think we need to exercise intensively to attain strong muscle, Melanie Pacheco, a certified massage therapist, said, “a lot of injuries can be avoided by stretching.” Melanie also shared that strengthening and stretching complement each other.

As we commute to school or sit in class we may hunch our backs, and Abbey Brown, a Master’s student in Exercise Science who is certified to teach the High Fitness class at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, explained that such posture can tighten our muscles and cause pain.

To prevent the tightness around our shoulders and upper back, Abbey has the following advice:

  1. Place your hand with your palm up on a wall facing perpendicular to your body. Turn your body so your chest is facing away from the direction of your hand. Hold for 30 seconds then switch sides.

  2. Reach behind you and hold your hands together behind you with your hands dangling toward the ground. Pull your shoulders back away from your chest and hold for 30 seconds.

  3. Lay your back on an exercise ball and let your arms hang side to side with your palms facing upward. Gravity will pull your arms down and stretch your chest muscles naturally. Hold for 30 seconds.

While in the car or during a long period of sitting, Abbey suggests for you to do some neck stretches and hold each pose for 30 seconds.

You can start by getting your left ear closer to your left shoulder and hold the pose, then do the same on the right side. Next bring your chin to your chest and lift your chin up to the ceiling.

Abbey said that another tip to relaxing your muscles is to “[rotate] your shoulders up and backward in a circular motion 10 times.”

She explained that a strong abdomen will help you have a better posture. To get your abdomen muscles sturdy, Abbey advises to work on “core exercises, like any other strength exercises.” She suggests you do this at least twice a week for 20 minutes.

There is an array of fitness classes available to help guide you through exercises if you feel like you need them. To learn more about stretches go to the Recreation Center’s Beach Balance Office.