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Springtime stretches

By Scott Scanlon / Refresh Editor

Stretch for spring success. Fred Duncan, of New York Sports Center in Clarence, recommends the following exercises to help you gear up for outdoor activity.

• Quadraped thoracic extension and rotation

On all fours, knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Bring elbow to elbow and then extend and rotate. Hips should be mobile, lower back, or lumbar, should be stable. The thoracic, or upper back, also should be mobile. The hips are in flexion to minimize movement from the lumbar spine as we are looking for movement through the thoracic spine. Lack of thoracic mobility can be associated with neck pain, shoulder pain and upper back pain, and this exercise helps people who spend lots of time sitting.

• Side lying adduction

Should be done on left and right side. Lay on left side, pull right leg up with right hand and hold right ankle. Stretch out left leg and put left hand under your head. Straightened leg should have toe pointed toward knee. Lift left leg off the ground several inches, several times.

• McGill crunch

Put hands behind lower back, lift one leg up by bending at the knee. The other leg should be outstretched with the heel dug into the ground. This teaches you to brace your core and prevents excessive spinal flexion while fully activating your abdominal muscles. Lift your chest as you brace your abs. Only go 30 degrees off the floor. This works abs and helps stabilize the pelvis, neck and glutes.

• Pushup to elbow touch

Do a wide stance pushup for greater stability. After you push away from ground, lift one hand off the floor and touch the opposite elbow. At top of next pushup, lift the opposite hand and touch the opposite elbow. Go slow and controlled.

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