Stretching is a great way to warm up before physical activity and also to cool down after exercise.
Fatigue is one side effect of cancer treatments. Even on days when you are not very physically active, taking a quick stretch break may give you a jolt of energy. Some cancer patients who require surgery may feel weakness in certain areas of the body. Proper stretching can feel like you are giving your body a mini massage and may offer some relief in areas where the body feels achy.
Check out some of our favorite moves below to stretch you out from head to toe:
- Head rolls. Roll your head slowly in a circle to the right 3 times. Switch and roll to the left 3 times.
- Shoulder rolls. Roll your shoulders to the front 3 times, then roll to the back 3 times.
- Arm stretch. Cross your right arm across your body and hook it with your left. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Try not to raise your shoulders. Switch and cross your left arm across your body and hook it with your right arm. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
- Side stretch. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Stretch your right arm up and over to the left side. Return to the center and stretch your left arm up and over to the right side.
- Quad stretch. The quadriceps are the tops of the thighs and many people experience tightness in that area. To stretch, stand up and bend your right leg back, grabbing your ankle behind you with the right hand. You can hold onto a wall or table if you feel unstable. Switch sides and repeat on the left.
- Glute stretch. Also known as a “figure four stretch,” this stretch involves standing and crossing the right ankle over the left thigh, creating the shape of the number four with your legs. Sit back and stretch. Switch sides. This stretch can also be done sitting in a sturdy chair or on the floor.
- Calf and hamstring stretch. Bend both legs, stick your right leg forward slightly, flex your toes and reach toward them. Switch legs and repeat on the left side. You should feel a gentle stretch along the back of your legs.
- Ankle rolls. Roll your right ankle clockwise and then counterclockwise 3 to 5 times each directions. Switch and roll the left ankle.
These stretches can all be modified for sitting in a chair or on a mat. Check out our previous blog post on chair-based exercises for more tips.
Be sure to speak with your physician and heath care team before starting any new exercise regimen or making changes to your current routine.