Wednesday Stretch - Derby Active at Home

Wed 20 May 2020

Dynamic stretching with Keith  
Derby Active Health and Wellbeing Advisor 

Today I wanted to talk a little about dynamic stretching also known as warm up stretches. These are important to help you warm up the body especially if you are about to take part in an activity that involves explosive power.

These will help to warm up the body as well as stretch the muscles that you may be using in the activity that you are about to take part in. You can repeat these as many times as you want until you feel that you have warmed and loosened up the body.

1. Hip stretch with twist
Step forwards with your left leg so that you are in the lunge position. Put your right down on the floor inside of your left knee. Twist your body to the left and reach as high as you can with your left arm straight overhead. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then repeat on the other side. Try and complete 8 to reps on each side.

2. Push up to T
Get into the push up position with the hands shoulder width apart and your body parallel to the ground. try and then take the body down into a full press up and then back up again. Twist the body to raise your left arm straight up into the air directly above the right arm if you can. Twist back into the press up position and repeat but this time raising the right arm. Try and complete 8 to 10 reps on each side.

3. Front kick with hand reach
Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms down by your sides. From this position kick your left leg straight upwards trying to keep the leg as straight as you can and at the same time reach forwards with your right and try and touch your toe. Go back to the start position and repeat on the other side. Try and complete 8 to 10 reps on alternate sides.

4. Lunge with body rotation
As the one above move the left leg forwards and go down into the lunge position and grasp your hands together in front of you. Twist your body as far to the left as you can in a controlled fashion try not to just throw your body in that direction. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds then step back and repeat on the other side. Try and complete 8 to 10 reps on each side.

5. Lateral lunge
Start again standing with the feet shoulder width apart and your hands grasped in front of you. Using your left leg step out to the side and lean into it pressing your left heel through the floor. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds return to the start position and repeat on the other side. Try to complete 8 to 10 reps on each side.

These exercises will help to warm up all the major joints and muscles within the body.

Remember you can repeat these as often as you want until you feel that you have warmed up enough. These stretches are particularly good if you are getting set to go out for a run.

Stay safe and well!


Wed 13 May

Mobility through the hips and knees

It is important to keep joints lubricated and mobile during this time of enforced inaction. When in active for long periods of time the hips and knees can get very tight and can then cause lower back problems. The exercises that follow should be a good way of helping to keep everything mobilised. Try and work within your own range of motion and over time this should improve as long as you are doing these regularly.

1. Lying hip rotations
This is a good warm up stretch as it is not very difficult and will help to warm up the joints for the rest of these exercises. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Cross the left ankle of the right knee so that your shin is horizontal to the floor. You can as a beginner move in and out of the stretch by rotating your left hip. If you find that this is not working for you you can use your hand to press away from your body. Hold this for 20 seconds then rest for 20 seconds. repeat this 10 times alternating the side each time.

2. Butterfly stretch 
This is very good for the groin muscles and improving hip rotation to the side. Sit on the floor making sure that your back stays nice a straight. Sit with your feet together and relax through your hips. Move the knee down towards the floor as much as you can. Use your hands to push down on your knees if you feel that you can do or bring your feet closer to your groin. This will help to stretch through the quadriceps as well. Hold for 20 seconds and rest for 20 seconds a and repeat 5 times

3. Kneeling lunge
This can be a little tricky for balance so be careful whilst doing this. make sure when you lunge forward that your shin is positioned slightly over your front foot and not behind or upright. When lunge forward make sure that your feet are around hip width apart. Lunge forward with your right leg so that your back knee touches the floor. Make sure that your back is straight and that the hips stay square with the body. If you have the balance take hold of your left ankle and bring it towards your glutes. Hold this position for 20 seconds then rest for 20 seconds. repeat 10 times on alternate sides.

4. Squatting internal rotations
This is quite a dynamic movement so you will not be holding the position for to long just keep moving through the movement. Sit in a deep squat with your feet hip width apart. You can use your hands to touch down on the floor if you require to keep your balance. Rotate your left knee inwards as far as it will go ideally to touch the floor. Bring your knee back to the starting position and repeat on the other side. As stated previously we are not holding this for a long count maybe a count of 2 before returning to the start position. Repeat on alternate sides 20 times.

5. Happy baby
Start by lying flat on your back. Bring your knees up to your chest and take the feet away from the body so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Hold the outside edge of your feet with your hands making sure to keep your arms on the outsides of your legs. Gently pull both knees down towards the floor making sure the knees travel outside of the body. Try and keep the upper body relaxed throughout. Pull as far down as you feel you can. Hold for 20 seconds and rest for 20 seconds. repeat 5 times

Keep safe and well,

Keith - Wellbeing Advisor (Queen's Leisure Centre)


Wed 29 Apr 

‘Mobility for longevity’

In these unprecedented times being mobile has never been more important for us. Being unable to attend the gym and many of us working from home without the use of ergonomic aids is having an effect on our health and wellbeing let alone our mobility. 

Aches and pains in your neck and back are just two of the signs of poor posture and over exerted muscles and strains. Left long enough this will lead to long-term postural issues.

What does the word mobility mean?

  • The ability to be flexible,
  • To be able to move freely,
  • Being pain free.

Being mobile will help prevent injuries, cure muscular in-balances, even build more muscle. It is common misconception that being flexible is the answer to all muscle related issues for range of motion.

Long-term benefits of being mobile in a full range of motion will elevate, bad knees, hip pain and other postural issues. Our lifestyles contribute to the way our postures have become, whether that’s the job we do or the style of training we adopt. Being unable to complete the simplest of tasks from getting up out of a chair to picking something up. Just small changes in the way you move can have great effects on your posture.

We are only strong as our weakest links’ (Mike O’hearn 4x Mr Universe)

Being flexible is only part of the equation, flexibility is how much a muscle is stretched within a given stress or time. Whereas mobility is how much your joint will move through its full range of motion. Having limited range of motion will increase your risk of injury or loss of movement problems later on.

Experts explain muscles can have a good flexibility but can be overactive (hyper-tonic) because they are trying to make up for lack of stability elsewhere. In addition muscles that cross multiple joints are muscles that tend to move us, the stabilising muscles tend to cross only one joint. Stabilising muscles inactively used will lead to persons bad posture, which in turn doesn’t allow them to do their job. Mobility muscles try to stabilise because they are crossing multiple joints, at a cost of limiting the joint mobility.

Common assumption is doing many stretches will sort postural issues, this is incorrect. Understand there is a link between flexibility and mobility it is clear that it’s only part of the equation. Train the body stabilising muscles specifically the core muscles. Perform exercises that take the muscles through the full range of motion consciously trying to improve posture. These are all small steps that will go a long way.

If your unsure if you have a healthy level of mobility, ask one of our health and wellbeing team members spread across our sites. Trained individuals who will personalise a program for you, as we are all specifically unique. Once we are up and running incorporate it into your ‘Member Journey’.

One technique to try and improve your mobility is Myofacial release (foam rolling].

Here are a few that will help.


Foam Rolling for the lower body

Massages are currently not on the menu unless you can persuade a family member to have a go. It is important to work through any tension in the muscles to help free up movement and help with any aches and pains. The best way to do this is to use a foam roller. Now I do have one at home which I use every couple of days to help with tension in the muscles. If you don’t have one you can use a baked bean tin or something similar and if you want something a little softer you can use a 2.5 litre pop bottle filled with water. This will stop the bottle compressing to much but will not be as tough as a tin. These exercises are very good for when you have finished a run or a brisk walk as they will help to dissipate lactic acid and avoid putting knots into the muscles below are 5 exercises to begin with and they should lead to your lower body feeling a lot freer. For all these moves you’ll want to stop when you feel tightness or tenderness. Inhale and then as you exhale slowly roll over the painful area. Try and do it in sections rather than continuously rolling backwards and forwards.

1.       Quads

Start by being in a forearm plank position with the foam roller at the top of the quads. To begin with it is best if possible, to have both legs on there though if it’s not possible you can do them individually as well. Brace yourself through your forearms and keep your core tight and slowly begin to roll down the legs until you reach just above the knees. Then roll back towards your hips nice and slowly. If you find a tender spot in the muscle, try and hold the roller there for 3 deep breaths and then move on. Do this for 30 seconds up and down the thigh. If you are doing each led individually then swap legs after 30 seconds and repeat.

2.       Hip flexors

The starting position is the same as the above exercise except this time the roller is resting on your left hip flexor with your right leg bent to the side. Start rolling slowly up and down and roll side to side on the hip flexor. Again if you find any painful spots then hold it there for 3 breaths and continue. Roller for 30 seconds and then swap sides and repeat.

3.       Calves

Tart by sitting on the floor with the legs straight out in front of you with the roller positioned just above your ankle. Try not to put it directly on your Achilles. Lift your body off the floor so that your weight is resting on the foam roller and roll up towards your knee and back down again using your arms to push you backwards and forwards. If you want to add some extra pressure cross over the left leg onto the right so that all the weight is just going through your right calf. If you find any painful points again just breath through as before. This is again for another 30 seconds. if you have just done the one calf swap sides and repeat again.

4.       Hamstrings

This is the same as the calf exercise except you start with the roller above the knee and roll towards your glutes. Repeat as above as needed.

5.       IT band

This is the fun one. For this lie on your right side with the roller just below your hi rest your body weight on your right forearm and keep your right leg straight. You can bend the left knee if you wish but try and keep it as straight as possible. Take the wight through your right forearm and your core and slowly roll down towards your knee on your IT band again breathing though any tender areas do this exercise for 30 seconds then roll over and repeat on the other side.

These exercises should hopefully help to relieve any tender areas that you have within the lower body. Derby Active gyms do have numerous different foam rollers of different densities so once we are back in the gym please speak to a well being advisor about any of these exercises or for help with new ones.


Foam roller image


1. T spine mobilisation

Fully mobile T spine allows better breathing a little power body movement.

Lay on your back, placed the foam roller beneath your shoulder blades so that you do it is perpendicular to your body. Keep your knees bent of the flat on the ground place your hands behind your head and pull your elbows as close as together as they will go. Keep your hips off the ground and slowly extend your thoracic spine back-and-forth over the roller do this for approximately 1 to 3 minutes.

2. Adductor mobilisation

Most neglected but beneficial area of lower body mobilisation release in this area will help ease me back and hip pain

Lay on your stomach with one leg extended slightly to the side knee bent. Support yourself on your forearms. Placed a roller in the groin area of the extended leg and rolled in the side for at least a minute engage your core to stabilise your spine. Repeat on the other side.

3. Latissimus mobilisation

Lat rolling helps shoulders move more freely

Lying on your side and position the centre of the foam roller directly under your armpit perpendicular to your body. Reach your arms straight out thumb up. Bring your other arm in front of you, resting your hand on the roller. Engage your core for stability. Begin rolling from your armpit approximately 4 inches down toward your waist, and back again. Keep this up for at least a minute, then change sides and repeat

4. Heel cord mobilisation

Whether it’s hiking or running the lower leg tissue should remain pain-free and pliable

Lying on your back, left leg outstretched, and place the roller under your left Achilles tendon. You're right leg can either be crossed over your left or on the floor, supporting some of your weight. Ensure your foot is relaxed, and then in small increments slowly roll from the ankle to below the knee for at least a minute rotate the leg inward and outward to ensure you're rolling all sides of each muscle repeat on right leg.

Stay well and safe!

by Abdul - Health and Wellbeing Advisor (Springwood Leisure Centre)

Wed 29 Apr 

Upper Body Stretching Routine

On this addition I wanted to focus a little bit on the upper body. We will be seated a lot more than we are used in the current climate and this should help to relieve any aches and pains that can occur due to this. these stretches will help with most of the muscle groups that become tight whilst being very sedentary.

1. Upper neck stretch
You can do this stood up or sat down as long as you are keeping your back straight and you are sat up. Place your left hand in the small of your back. Place your right hand on the opposite side of your head with your forearm going over the top of your head. Pull your head towards your shoulder until you feel a stretch in your neck. Make sure not to raise your shoulder towards your head or else the stretch will not be as effective. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds then rest for 20 seconds repeat 10 times on alternate sides.

2. Upper back stretch
Take the right arm across the body at just below shoulder hight and take hold of the elbow with the opposite hand. Pull the elbow across the body until you feel a stretch in your back underneath your shoulder blade. Hold for 20 seconds and then rest for 20 seconds. Repeat 10 times alternating the arm you are using for stretching

3. Chest stretch
For this one you will need to be stood up with your back straight. Interlock your fingers behind your back near your glutes. Keep your back straight and retract through your shoulder blades pushing your hands up until you feel the stretch through your chest. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds and rest for 20 seconds repeat 5 times hopefully each time the arms coming further up your back.

4. Bicep and shoulder stretch
Or this one you will need to be sat on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Put hands on the floor behind you with your fingers pointing away from your body. Keep your hands in place and slowly slide your glutes away from your hands. You should start to feel a stretch in your biceps. Depending on your range of movement you may also feel a stretch in your shoulders and chest. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds then rest for 20 seconds. repeat 5 times.

5. Overhead triceps stretch
This another one that you can do stood or sat down again making sure the back is kept nice and straight. Bring your right arm over your head and drop your forearm behind you. You should be able to rest it on your back between your shoulder blades. With the left hand take hold above your right elbow and pull gently until you feel a stretch in your triceps and a little bit in the shoulder also. Try not to pull on your elbow but just above it. Try and keep your bicep close to your ear and do not force it past it. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and rest for 20 seconds and repeat 10 times alternating the side.

Have a go and see what you think.

Try and do these once a day if you can especially if you have spent some time at behind a desk hunched over your computer. Next time we will look a little more in depth at stretches for the quadriceps and the hamstrings. I will also touch on a little mobility work through the hips and knees to help any tightness through these important joints.

Keep safe and well,

Keith - Wellbeing Advisor (Queen's Leisure Centre)


Wed 22 Apr 

Improving posture through stretch

There is no doubt that given the current situation, we're all doing our fair share of sitting. Working from home, not being able to get out and exercise as much as we like will undoubtedly be having a negative effect on our posture and general wellbeing. There is a phrase that I heard once that has stuck with me, "sitting is the new smoking". This resonated with me as I believe the health risk of just sitting is far greater than people recognize.

There are an increased number of studies that indicate that sitting for eight hours a day, or more, can inflict as much toll on the body as manual labour. You have probably noticed when you sit in a slouched position for prolonged periods, getting out of this position can be 'testing' to say the least. There is a term called "muscle creep", which occurs when a muscles mechanical length gradually increases in response to a constant stretching force.

In other words, if we're constantly putting ourselves in to these "bad posture" positions, it won't take long for this to set in, and that is not what we want. They do say you can always tell when someone has an office job, so you can imagine the postural traits we're talking about. When a muscle is stretched out too much as a result of bad posture, the muscle is effectively living at tearing point, which it doesn't want. So your body's natural response to this is to tense up and send the muscle into spasm, therefore limiting any further stretch. We've all had these lower back twinges and tweaks, well a lot of the time, this is what is happening. 

To complement the below stretches, a simple tip to keep yourself from slouching is to put a lumbar support or a small pillow in the small of your low back. This additional pressure will keep you in a more upright position, and will continue this good form up into your upper back. Also, make sure you have regular breaks.

I know it is easy to work through them, but just a quick stretch of the legs to put the kettle on every half an hour will help you reset your posture. Ok, maybe don't put the kettle on every half an hour, maybe alternate with getting a glass of water and going to the toilet :) The key is regularity, so you'll find even just standing for a few seconds is beneficial.

Below I have written a few stretches to help reset after a long day of sitting. I recommend taking a little bit of time out each day, and hopefully we'll fight off the "creep".

Shrugs – Lower your ear to your shoulder so you can feel a stretch without pain on the opposite side of your neck. If this position is painful, release the stretch slightly. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat two times on each side.

Neck stretch part 1 (posterior, back) – Lower your chin to you chest, then from this position tilt your head to your left or right shoulder, keeping your chin in this lowered position (If tilting to right hand side, you should feel the stretch in the back of you neck on the left). When tilting your head to the side, you should tilt as far as you can before you feel pain. If it is too painful, release the stretch slightly. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat two times on each side.

Neck stretch part 2 (anterior, front) – Tilt your head backwards raising your chin, then look over your shoulder as far as you can (if looking over your right shoulder, you should feel a stretch in the front of your neck on the left hand side). Rotate your head to the side as far as you can before pain. If it is too painful, release the stretch slightly. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat two times on each side.

Sitting upper back stretch - While sitting in a chair, move to the edge of the seat. Spread your legs to approximately shoulder width and place your feet flat on the floor. Take your right hand and grab your left ankle. Take your left hand and press down in the elbow crease of your right arm. You should feel this stretch in your rhomboid muscle in your mid/upper back, between your spine and shoulder blade on the right side. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds and repeat for 2 repetitions on each side.

 Shoulder blade retraction - Stand in a door frame with the back of your head against the frame itself. Relax your arms at your sides and pinch your shoulder blades down and back against the door frame. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat for 10 repetitions.

 Standing chest stretch - Stand in a corner of a room, put your forearms flat on the adjoining walls with your upper arms parallel with the floor. Lean into the corner further so you can feel a stretch in your pectoral muscles across the front of your chest. Hold this position for 15 seconds, then raise your arms up 45 degrees and lean into the stretch again. Hold this position for a further 15 seconds, then fully extend your arms overhead and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat this circuit for 2 repetitions.

If you are struggling with any for of postural discomfort, I hope these stretches help you release a little bit of the pain.

Stay safe all!

Health and Fitness Manager - Queen's Leisure Centre

Wed 8 Apr

Stretch with Keith 

During this time where we are spending a lot more time sitting down and maybe not as active as we want to be. It is important to make sure that we keep our lower body stretched and mobilised.

To this end, it is important to add a daily stretch routine into your program. I myself set the goal of being able to touch my toes comfortably by the end of the quarantine period.

To achieve this goal, I have set myself the target of completing all the below stretches daily. These stretches are very good if you have this goal yourself or you just want to add a little flexibility into your session. This is a beginner program and will be updated weekly to add some progressions on stretches that may feel too easy.

Lower body stretching routine

1. Knee rolls

Lie on your back with your knees bent and together. Keep your upper body relaxed with the arms out to the side around shoulder height. Roll your knees to one side keeping them together. Try to keep both shoulders on the floor. Hold for a count of 20 then return to the starting position. Repeat this 8 – 10 times alternating the sides. The main thing to remember with this stretch is to only as far as feels comfortable the range of motion will increase in time.

2. Kneeling stretch

Start by standing on your knees on a softer surface. Bring your right leg forward and straighten it. Flex your foot towards your body keeping the left led bent at 90 degrees. Slowly begin to walk your hands forward keeping your core engaged. Once you feel the stretch hold that position for a count of 20 then slowly walk your hands back and repeat with the other leg. Repeat for 8 – 10 times alternating the leg.

3. Lying quadriceps stretch

Lie on your side with your lower extended and your head resting on it. Make sure that your thighs are side by side. Keep the core tight to help stabilise the pelvis, bring the uppermost ankle back towards your glutes. Reach back with your free hand and take hold of your ankle, try to keep the leg parallel to the ground. If you cannot reach your ankle you can wrap a towel around the ankle and use that to pull your foot towards your glutes. Press your hip forward and slightly extend the hip. Once you feel the stretch hold for a count of 20 then relax for a count of 20. Once you have repeated this 5 times on one side turn over and repeat with the other leg.

4. Japanese ham sandwich

Sit on the floor with both legs forward and feet together. Bend your knees and take hold of your big toe with thumb and forefinger. Keep your core tight and slowly extend your legs forward as much as possible. If you can straighten them then slowly start to pull your chest forwards.

5. Ragdoll

Stand with your feet hip-width apart pointing straight forwards. Keeping the legs straight bend forwards and just let the body hang as far as it will go. Hold for a count of 20 then rest for a count of 20. Repeat 5 times

Doing these stretches once a day for a week should help to alleviate any pain and tightness in the lower body and eventually help you to be able to touch your toes.

Keep safe and well,

Keith - Wellbeing Advisor (Queen's Leisure Centre)

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