Strengthen your muscles and stave off injury with these five easy pain-prevention moves. A wrenched neck can be a huge pain in the you-know-what. To stave off aches in vulnerable areas, such as your neck, knees, and back, you need to strengthen the muscles surrounding them, says Gaelyn Rogers, a physical therapist with ShiftPT, an integrative-health facility in New York City.
Doing so will stabilize your joints so you’re less likely to injure them while performing simple tasks, like lifting a bag of groceries. To protect yourself, try the following routine, created by Rogers, three times through, three times a week. You’ll need a resistance tube, a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell, a stair or a step, and a yoga mat for cushioning.
Move 1: Shoulder Rotations
(A) Standing with feet together, hold the resistance tube in front of you, with your palms up and your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle by your sides. Lengthen your back and tuck in your chin slightly.
(B) Keeping your elbows by your sides, rotate your forearms outward to stretch the tube, drawing your shoulder blades together. Release. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
Move 2: Half-Kneel With Chop
(A) Close one end of the resistance tube in a door. With your left side next to the door, kneel onto your right knee and bend your left knee at a 90-degree angle. Grasp the tube above your left shoulder with both hands.
(B) Keeping your arms straight, pull the tube down and across your body to your right thigh. Return to the starting position. Do 20 on each side.
Move 3: Step-up With Overhead Press
(A) Holding the dumbbell in your right hand, place your left foot on a 4- to 12-inch step or stair. Bend your elbow and bring the weight to shoulder height.
(B) Step up with your left leg and bring your right knee to hip height so that your thigh is parallel to the floor. At the same time, press the weight overhead and balance for 10 seconds. Repeat five times; switch sides.
Move 4: Bird Dog
(A) Begin on all fours, with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Contract your abdominals.
(B) With a neutral spine (avoid arching your back or moving your hips), extend your right arm straight ahead and your left leg back. Hold for 10 seconds.
(C) Bend your knee and elbow as you bring both beneath your body to touch. Return to the extended position. Repeat five times; switch sides.
Move 5: Dying Bug
(A) Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Curl your hands into fists and extend your arms upward.
(B) Tighten your abs and lift your legs so that your knees are over your hips and bent at a 90-degree angle.
(C) Keeping your core engaged, lower your right heel to the floor as you bring your right fist to your left knee. Return to the starting position; switch sides. This is one repetition. Repeat 20 times.
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