Here are exercises you can do at home to strengthen and stretch muscles as part of your pain treatment regimen. Please see the photos and illustrations to help you find the proper positions.
This muscle extends from your shoulder blade (scapula) to your neck. Pull your neck forward and face opposite the side that is painful. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Stretch this muscle by kneeling in front of a sturdy chair. Keep your back straight while gradually pulling your body backward and downward, away from the chair. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Stretch this muscle by standing in a corner, raising your arms and allowing your body weight to stretch your chest muscles. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
When inflamed, this bursa (fluid-filled sac) causes pain in the outer aspects of the hip. There is a band of tissue called the ilio-tibial band (ITB) that runs directly over the bursa and can cause irritation when it becomes tight. Stretch this band, taking the position as shown below. To stretch the left ITB, pull the left knee to the right side of the body and toward the head. Repeat on the right side. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 10 times
This muscle is notorious for causing back pain that can radiate into the groin and entrap nerves, causing pain in the abdomen and down the leg. To stretch the right side, move into the posture shown below and bend your left knee. Repeat on the right knee. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
When tight, this muscle can squeeze on the sciatic nerve and cause buttocks pain as well as a shooting pain that radiates down the leg. There are two ways to stretch this muscle. Lying on your back, pull your left knee to the right side of your body. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Although this may stretch the muscle, there is a better, but more difficult stretch. First, you get down on your hands and knees. Then stretch your left piriformis muscle by rotating your left inward and crossing your left shin over and in front of your right thigh. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds, then repeat on your right side. Repeat 10 times.
This muscle, when tight, can cause pain in back joints. To stretch this muscle, bend away from the side where you are feeling pain. Hold 10-15 seconds, then repeat 10 times.
A second way to do this stretch is to lie on your side opposite the side to be stretched. Move to the edge of the bed or exercise table. Allow your top leg to hang off the edge by having your knee clear the bed or table. Hold 10-15 seconds, then repeat 10 times.
This muscle, located in the back of the leg, can cause pain in front of the knee (pes anserine bursitis), pain in the buttocks (ischial tuberosity bursitis, also known as Weaver’s Bottom), or pain along the hamstring itself. To stretch, lie on your back. Make a cloth sling from a towel or sheet and hook it under the ball of your foot. Bend your hip and knee 90 degrees. Then, by pulling on the towel or sheet, straighten the leg until the knee is completely straight. Hold for 10-15 seconds, repeat 10 times.
Stand facing a wall, with both feet facing forward. Neither foot should be twisted inward or outward. The ankle to be stretched will be the one moved furthest away from the wall. Bend the knee closest to the wall. Keep the knee farthest from the wall straight and firmly on the floor. Hold 10-15 seconds, then repeat for each ankle 10 times.
Use this exercise to strengthen your quadricep, which is the muscle mass in front of your thigh, as well as to strengthen the psoas muscle. This exercise helps alleviate pain from arthritis of the knee, patella-femoral syndrome, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) irritation, or meniscal tears. Either recline, using your bended arms to support you, or lie down with a pillow supporting your back. Raise your leg while keeping your knee straight to 45 degrees. Hold in place for 5-10 seconds, then slowly drop your leg down to the table or bed surface without your leg back up. Repeat this exercise for 3-5 sets of 10 leg raises each. Expect a burning sensation in front of your knee.
If you should encounter difficulties in doing these exercises, please call the office of Craig Neleson, MD, at (214)618-6852.