Mild temperatures and extended periods of daylight make spring a great time to take your exercise routine outdoors. That often means participating in more rigorous cardiovascular exercise such as running, biking and group sports. These types of high impact workouts put more strain on your joints and can increase your risk of injury.

Before your next outdoor activity, practice the following safe stretching exercises to help lower your risk of damage to bones and joints. Stretching exercises can also help you improve circulation, improve balance and coordination, alleviate lower back pain and improve cardiovascular health.

1.) Neck Stretch

Neck Stretch 2Neck Stretch 1

  • Adjust your body so your back is straight and flat against your chair.
  • Rest your hands on your lap or knees.
  • Relax your muscles one at a time. Begin with your toes, then work your way up to your shoulders, neck and head.
  • Try touching your left ear to your left shoulder without lifting your shoulder to meet it. You should feel a strain on the right side of your neck. Flex your neck as far as is comfortable and hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Repeat up to three repetitions on the left side of your neck and then do the same for the right side.
  • Reduce the number of repetitions, if you start to feel any discomfort or pain.
  • Remain seated in your upright position.
  • Tilt your head all the way down, until your chin touches your chest. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Rotate your head to the left or until your left ear is resting on your left shoulder.
  • Rotate your head back until you have thoroughly stretched your head and neck muscles as far back as you can.
  • When you are done, return your head back to its starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise several times per week to help defend against stiff neck muscles.

2.) Shoulder Stretch

Shoulder Stretch 1Shoulder Stretch 2

  • With feet flat on the ground sit with back straight against the chair.
  • Fully extend your right arm all the way across your chest and hold position with your left arm. Hold for 15 sec.
  • Bring your fully extended left arm all the way across your chest and hold with right arm. Hold for 15 sec.
  • Repeat alternating with each arm 3 times.

3.) Triceps Stretch

Tricep Stretch 2Tricep Stretch 1

  • With feet flat on the ground sit with back straight against the chair.
  • Bring your right arm back so your right hand is touching your upper back.
  • Hold stretch with your left hand pulling/touching your right elbow. You should feel the stretch in the back of your arm. Hold 15 sec.
  • Bring your left arm back so your left hand is touching your upper back.
  • Hold the stretch with your right hand pulling/touching your left elbow. You should feel the stretch in the back of your arm. Hold 15 sec.
  • Repeat the stretches 3 times each.

4.) Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch 1 Hamstring Stretch 2

  • Sitting with bottom half-way on seat:
  • Extend right leg out with heel touching the floor and foot flexed up.
  • Bend left leg about 90 degrees.
  • Flex/Bend at the waist and extend right arm out as far as possible. You should feel the stretch behind your leg. Hold your stretch for 15-30 sec.

5.) Calf StretchCalf Stretch

  • Sitting towards the front of the seat, extend right leg straight out making sure to not bend the knee.
  • With left leg, place heel on top of right foot’s toe and push back until you feel a stretch in the calf muscle. Left leg will be bent about 45 degrees.
  • Hold stretch for 15-30 sec.
  • Repeat same procedure with opposite leg.

Are you experiencing sore muscles and aches?

This can be a result of a hard workout routine, or it could be a sign of a more serious problem such as chronic pain or arthritis. It’s important to know what is affecting you so you can treat it correctly. Find out about your bone, joint, and muscle symptoms by visiting our Health Library.

If you have a stiff or achy joint that is interfering with your daily life, find out if joint replacement surgery may be right for you through the Joint Replacement Center at Washington Adventist Hospital or Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center.