Flexibility Exercises to Stay Limber This Winter

Summit physical therapist Cory Absey, PT, DPT, shares some easy flexibility exercises to help you stay limber this winter.

Another Minnesota winter is upon us. Here at Summit, we know that flexibility is an important part of overall fitness. Flexibility can also help relieve problems with joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, keeping you moving throughout the winter. Here are some great flexibility exercises from Summit physical therapist Cory Absey, PT, DPT, to help you stay limber, even when it’s cold and icy.

“The last year has not been kind,” Absey said. “One side effect of many people spending more time at home is that people are typically spending too much time sitting.” Sitting inactivates the body’s largest muscle group — the gluteal muscles, or “glutes.” Then, when it’s time to get up out of the chair, or climb a flight of stairs, the muscles aren’t ready to engage. “As a result, we tend to overuse our thigh muscles and our back muscles to compensate” for weak glutes, Absey said.

Another problem with too much sitting is that over time, we tend to slouch in our chairs. “When we slouch, we don’t activate the core muscles,” Absey said. To avoid all of this inactivity, Absey recommends spending a few minutes each hour doing flexibility exercises that engage those muscles by squeezing your abdominal muscles and clenching your glutes.

“Doing those tightening exercises while you are sitting helps keep your brain and muscles connected, keeping the muscles involved and ready to move,” Absey said.

Flexibility exercises and stretches to stay limber this winter

Stretching is a great way to improve flexibility and help avoid injury. It takes only a few minutes each day. Here are a few ideas:

For your calf muscles: A simple calf stretch helps lengthen and relax calf muscles, which are often tight.

For your thigh muscles: Lie on your bed facing the ceiling, then scoot to the side and let one leg drop off the edge. Next, bend the knee of the leg that is hanging down. This stretches your hip flexors and thigh muscles.

For your back: Sit in a chair, engage your abdominal muscles, and then lean forward, trying to rest your shoulders on your knees. “This gives you a nice back stretch,” Absey said. “Make sure to engage your glutes on the way back up, so that you are not overusing your back to pull yourself up. Squeeze your glute muscles to engage them before sitting up.”

For your core: Seated or lying on your back, do a simple twist. Pull your knees back toward your chest, then rotate to the right and return to center. Repeat on the left side.

Overall flexibility tips

“The best way to avoid getting tight and sore is just to move,” Absey said. Engaging those muscles in your glutes and core is key. “Even getting up and walking around the house can help if it’s too cold outside.”

Summit Orthopedics supports healthy communities

Community health flourishes when specialized orthopedic care is conveniently available close to home. Summit Orthopedics is proud of our fellowship-trained subspecialty teams offering the full spectrum of orthopedic expertise in bone, tendon, ligament, muscle, and joint conditions—in addition to our wellness, prevention, and rehabilitation services. We have the expertise to proactively improve fitness, evaluate discomfort, and deliver personalized treatment to quickly and safely return you to the lifestyle you love.

Start your journey to a healthier, more active self. Visit our Facebook page to learn about our wellness services and schedule a free wellness consultation online. Find your orthopedic expert, schedule an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MNVadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.

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