This week, I thought I would continue to give advice from the American Chiropractic Association. Last week, I provided a few “passive” stretches from their website. This week, I will provide a few “active” stretches, also from their website. Active stretches facilitate movement and improve strength. Stretches should never cause pain nor should you feel tingling in the extremities. Stop immediately if you experience any discomfort.

1. Bridges

Lie on your back with your knees flexed and your feet flat on the floor. Keep the knees together. Tighten the muscles of the lower abdomen and buttocks; slowly raise your hips up from the floor and then lower them back to the resting position. Repeat this 20 times. This exercise may be performed several times per day.

2. The pointer

Kneel on mat on hands and knees, with palms directly under shoulders and knees hip-width apart. Slowly raise your right arm, and extend it forward parallel to the floor (balance by contracting your abdominal muscles). Keep right palm parallel to the floor, then lift the left leg, and straighten it behind you. Hold opposing limbs off the ground for 30 to 60 seconds without arching your back. Switch sides. Repeat three to six times.

3. Leg raises

Lie on your stomach. Tighten the muscles in one leg and raise it one to two inches from the floor. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat 20 times with each leg. This exercise may be performed several times per day.

Stretching tips

To get the maximum benefit from stretching, proper technique is essential. The American Chiropractic Association offers the following tips to stretch correctly:

Warm up

Warm up your muscles before stretching by walking or doing other gentle movements for 10 to 15 minutes.

Increase slowly

Slowly increase your stretch as you feel your muscles relax. Don’t bounce.

Don’t push it

Stretch slowly and gently only to the point of mild tension, not to the point of pain.

Breathe

Don’t hold your breath. Inhale deeply before each stretch and exhale during the stretch.

Stretch more

As your flexibility increases, consider increasing the number of repetitions.

Don’t hurt yourself

Stop immediately if you feel any severe pain.