Dr. Kimberly Safman, a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist,
recently sat down to discuss the importance of stretching, and techniques
that she recommends to help with flexibility in order to start the day well.
"Stretching first thing in the morning can be both relaxing and energizing,”
said Dr. Safman. “It’s a great way to increase flexibility,
improve posture, prevent injury and reduce pain."
Dr. Safman explains that neck and upper back stretches help to improve
flexibility, reduce pain and headaches, and improve posture. Back extension
exercises help keep people in proper alignment in a neutral spine position
which improves our posture, flexibility, and is important for injury prevention.
Stretching the piriformis muscles (hamstrings and calves) is important
to maintain good balance, posture, healthy gait pattern and improve flexibility.
By doing so you can reduce the incidence of back pain and sciatica, reduce
knee pain and prevent falls and injury.
Dr. Safman recommends a few daily stretches that are easy to do and very
Side neck stretch: Sit or stand. Drop your right ear to your right shoulder. Use your right
hand and place on the left side of the head. Gently assist the stretch
with mild pressure on the neck. Relax the left arm to the side. Hold 20
seconds. Repeat on other side.
Corner stretch: Stand facing a corner with your arms bent and hands flat against opposing
walls. You should be relaxed upright and straight. Keep feet parallel
to one another. Lean forward until a comfortable stretch is felt across
the chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
Lumbar stretch (prone press up): Lie on your stomach with your elbows bent and palms flat on the ground.
Keep your hips and pelvis touching the surface and use your arms to lift
your upper torso off the mat, keeping your back muscles relaxed. Hold
for up 30-45 seconds.
Piriformis stretch: Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front. Pull one knee up
and across your trunk so you feel a stretch in the buttocks and back.
Hold for 30 sec and repeat on other side.
Hamstring and calf stretch:
Sit on the floor with one knee bent and the bottom for the foot on the
opposite leg. Keep the other leg straight and gently lean your arms and
head toward the outstretched leg while keeping your back straight. Flex
the ankle and foot. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on other leg
About Dr. Safman
Kimberly Safman, M.D. specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
She earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical University of
South Carolina, and completed a Residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
at University of California, Irvine Medical Center and her Fellowship
in Anesthesia Pain Management at the Pain Management Medical Center in
Long Beach. Dr Safman is Board-certified by the American Board of Physical
Medicine & Rehabilitation and the Pain Medicine Subspecialty Board.