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How to Prevent Injuries Before Working Out: Stretching Exercises with The Manor’s Fitness Director to Help You Get Back in Shape!

May 23, 2021

Exercise benefits our overall health and well-being at every age. As we live our retired years to the fullest, maintaining our strength and flexibility to prevent injuries becomes all the more important. Stretching, while often forgotten, can be a wonderful way to not only improve your flexibility and balance, but to begin your workout and prepare your body for more advanced exercises.

The Manor at York Town’s Fitness Director, John Miller, has been helping residents improve their fitness and nutrition for 15 years. With a variety of classes like advanced cardio, personal training sessions, and water aerobics, what John enjoys most about his job is helping residents reach their fitness goals and live well each day. Today, John demonstrates simple stretches to help prevent injuries as we ease back into our regular workout routines.

John’s Stretching and Warm-Up Exercises

1. Knee Ups

Knee ups help strengthen muscles around your core, pelvis, lower back, hips, and abs. This exercise can help improve your strength and flexibility to assist with everyday movements like bending, reaching, pulling and pushing, which become increasingly important to maintain as you age.

  • Stand with feet hip width apart.
  • Tighten your core muscles including your abdomen, sides, and lower back
  • Raise right knee until the back of your thigh is parallel to the floor. (Use chair for balance if needed)
  • Keep your back straight and tall as you lift your knee.
  • Hold for 1 to 2 seconds before returning to standing position.
  • Switch to other leg and repeat.
  • Start with 3 sets of 8 reps and continue to increase reps as you get stronger.

2. Hip Extension

This exercise helps improve posture and your ability to stand up straight. The hip extension strengthens your glutes and hamstrings, which can help improve agility and strengthen the muscles used to climb stairs.

  • Stand with feet hip width apart behind a chair.
  • With your hands placed on the chair for stability, extend your right leg back behind you, keeping your leg straight with your foot flexed.
  • Repeat with left leg. Complete 3 sets of 7 reps. Continue to increase reps as strength improves.

3. Seated Twist

The seated twist stretches your hip flexors and lower back. These muscles allow your hips to twist and help with walking, bending, and raising your legs.

  • Sit in armless with feet hip width apart.
  • Bend your arms at the elbow and lift them parallel to your shoulders.
  • With your arms bent at shoulder height, take a deep breath in. As you exhale, twist gently toward the right, twisting from your rib cage.
  • When you have twisted comfortably, inhale and release a little. Exhale and twist more deeply. Inhale back to center.
  • Repeat on other side.

4. Cat Cow Neck Stretch

Similar to the yoga pose, this neck stretch works to support your cervical spine. This can help maintain your range of motion and prevent injuries while working out.

  • Seated on a chair, tilt head gently backward.
  • You should feel a comfortable stretch in your neck.
  • Hold pose for 20 seconds and practice deep breathing.
  • Staying seated, tilt head gently forward.
    Hold pose for 20 seconds.

Get to know John! He shares his 20+ year journey with fitness!

With a passion for fitness since childhood, John’s love for elementary school gym class and all things nutrition was a clear indicator of a future in exercise. Shortly after his high school graduation, John became a black belt Karate instructor for six years. Simultaneously working as a fitness trainer at local gyms, John easily found his way into the world of power lifting.

In fact, he placed second in the AAU Nationals for power lifting and eventually made it to the AAU World Championships. Unfortauntely, at this competition John injured himself quite badly. Out of work for nearly a year, John decided this was the perfect time to get his certification in fitness and nutrition. After obtaining his certification from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), he worked in different hospitals and was fascinated with the inner workings of the human-body.

After studying anatomy and physiology at Bucks County Community College for two years, in 2004, John began his career as Wellness Director at The Manor. Now the Fitness Director, John enjoys improving residents’ fitness skills and helping them lead happier and healthier lives. “I enjoy everything about my job. I really need to be safe and creative with everything I do because the residents trust me, and I value that very much.”