Flexibility exercises can help you fight pain and facilitate blood flow to the muscles. It's important to stretch each major muscle group including the calf, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest, back, abs, shoulders, triceps, biceps and forearms. Here are flexibility exercises for each of these muscle groups. With all of these exercises, only stretch as far as is comfortable.
Stand on a step and put one foot behind you. Try to lower the back heel as far down as it will go. You can also do this on level ground or using a calf stretcher, which you can buy for between $21 and $41.
This is the large muscle group in the front of the leg between the knee and the pelvic area. Lean on the wall from a solid standing position. Grasp the front of your right ankle with your right hand and bend the leg at the knee. Pull the leg back, keeping it bent, and you'll feel the stretch.
This is the large muscle group at the back of the leg. The calf stretch will also address the hamstring muscle, but the legs up the wall stretch really addresses the area. Lie on your side with your buttocks against the wall. Roll onto your back so that your legs are going up the wall. If you flex your feet to try to have the bottom of the feet parallel with the wall, with no twisting of the legs, you'll feel it in the hamstrings.
Lie on a stack of pillows that hit you the long way in the middle of the back. Your chest should be raised and curved around the pillows. Put your arms as close to your hips as you can and feel your shoulder blades moving towards each other.
The legs up the wall also stretches the back. Pulling your knees to your chest while lying down also stretches the lower back. For the upper back, raise your arms straight up over your head with your arms next to your ears. If you imagine being pulled up by a string on each fingertip, you'll stretch the upper back.
Crunches are good, but they only work one set of ab muscles. Raising the legs up while lying down and trying to bring the knees to the chest without the help of the hands will work the lower abs. You can work the side abs by lying on your back and crossing the legs and doing a crunch bringing the elbow to the opposite knee that's crossing the other leg.
Shoulder Circles and Shrugs
Create full circles with both shoulders in the same or opposite directions. You can also do one shoulder at a time and then work on bringing the shoulders to the ears.
You can work many of the arm muscle groups with curls, starting from a straight arm and bending at the elbow. Palms up exercises the biceps. Palms facing behind you works the triceps.
Stretch your arms out in front of you and make fists. Rotate the wrists in full circles to stretch the wrists and work the forearms.