Stretch and Mobilize Your Fascia

Key Exercises for Fascial Wellness


Diaphragmatic (Belly) Breathing

Why it is important:Learning to breathe with your diaphragm is critical for good health.  It should be your default manner of breathing during all your activities and when resting.  Make this your number one goal!
How to do it: Sit quietly or lie down on your back.
Place your hands on you belly just below your belly button.
As you inhale feel your hands being pushed out or up by your belly.
As you breathe in, feel your belly slowly lower.
Beginner:Find a time to sit quietly and practice for a few minutes each day.
Practice when you are trying to fall asleep each night.
Intermediate:Learn to breathe with your diaphragm while standing.  Practice in line at the grocery store or while you are preparing your evening meal.
Advanced:Practice at all times.  Check yourself regularly to be sure you are using your diaphragm while breathing during all your daily activities.

Legs Up the Wall

Why its important:This stretch has so many great benefits. See my blog post for them all. Many people choose this for a great hamstring stretch but there is soooo much more!
How to do it:Lay on the floor and scoot your bottom as close to the wall as possible. Stretch your legs up the wall keeping them about hip width apart. See the blog post or watch the video for more detail.
Beginner:Use a strap around your calves to keep your legs in alignment and your feet pointing toward your head. Don’t try to get too close to the wall at first.
Intermediate:Keep scooting closer to the wall as your hamstrings soften. Place a small towel under your low back to support the curve and add to your hamstring stretch.
Advanced:Deepen the support under your low back. Try several leg and arm positions or add therapy ball under your back.

Calf Stretches

Why its important:Calf stretches have a multitude of benefits and mimic normal movement of the calves during walking. They can help relax the tension in your feet and hips!
How to do it:Stand with your feet directly below your hips and with your toes pointing straight forward.
Step one foot back and place the balls of the other foot up on a rolled or folded towel, book or half foam roll.
Square up your hips/ point the hips bones forward. Make sure your low back has a nice gentle curve.
Carefully step the back foot straight forward until you feel a stretch in the calf of the leg on the towel.  The stretch should be gentle and not intense.
Hold the stretch until the tension releases.  This can take up to 2-3 minutes. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 1 minute. Then step a little further forward and repeat the stretch.
Keep your head and chest upright.
Repeat the entire process but point the toes of the foot on the towel inward about 45 degrees.
Repeat the entire process again with the toes of the foot on the towel outward about 45 degrees.
Repeat all with the other foot on the towel.
Beginner:Use a rolled-up towel to step on to with your front foot.
Intermediate:Use a more solid object to step on to with your front foot.
Advanced: Use a half foam roller or yoga block to step on to with your front foot.
Add arm stretches while doing your calf stretches.

Basic Squats for Alignment and Strength Building

Why it is important. A well aligned squat exercise helps to retrain your body quickly into better alignment and has a variety of additional benefits including strengthening and stretching the low back, hip and leg muscles, mobilizing the lymph and cardiovascular systems, and retrains your low back curve.
How to do it:Stand with your feet directly below your hips and with your toes pointing straight forward.
Engage your thigh muscles as necessary so your knees also point straight forward.
Start the squat by moving your butt backwards.
Keep the weight in your heels.
Your knees should never go past your toes.  Keep your shins as vertical as possible.
Keep your head and chest upright.
You can use your arms as needed to maintain your balance at first.
Go slow and only go as low as you can comfortably maintain your balance on the way down and the way up.
Beginner:Place your hands on a table, counter or back of a chair for balance.
Place your hands on your thighs and slide them down your legs as you squat slowly and purposefully.  Feel your knees pointing straight forward. Stand in front of a mirror if needed.
Start by dipping down just a few inches trying to go a little bit lower each time.
Sit down onto a chair and stand back up in good alignment and without using your hands.
Intermediate:Place your hands on a table, counter or back of a chair for balance.
Place your hands on your thighs and slide them down your legs as you squat slowly and purposefully.  Feel your knees pointing straight forward. Stand in front of a mirror if needed.
Start by dipping down just a few inches trying to go a little bit lower each time.
Sit down onto a chair and stand back up in good alignment and without using your hands.
Advanced:Spread your arms out wide and turn your thumbs up when you squat. When you stand raise your arms above your head.
Place the balls of your feet on a rolled towel to add a calf stretch and challenge your balance with each squat.
Allow yourself to come into a full squat and hold.  Focus on attempting to maintain your low back curve.  When coming up, begin the movement with your bottom moving back and up to use your gluts to perform the action.

Shoulder Alignment Stretch

Why it is important:A good shoulder stretch will help to counteract the forward reaching we do all day long.
How to do it: Place your legs and low back in good alignment.
Bring your arms out in front of you as if you are going to pick up two imaginary bottles of water on a table.
Move your arms as if you are trying to bring the bottles of water behind you without spilling them.
Keep your shoulders down and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Once your arms are as far behind you as you can move them, slowly turn your hands over moving your thumbs backward as if you are dumping out the water behind you.
Once you are reaching as far as you can, hold the stretch and wait for the muscles in the front of your body and upper arms to soften.  This can take 2-3 minutes.  Hold each time for a minimum of 1 minute.
Beginner:Move very slowly and keep your hands low.
Intermediate:Hold the stretch behind you through several breaths.
With your arms stretched behind you move them up so your hands are higher than your head. Then move them back down again.  Repeat several times slowly.
Advanced:In addition to the movements above move your arms in front of you while keeping your shoulder blades squeezed together.  Keep your thumbs rotated out and the backs of your hands facing the ground.
Try doing this exercise while doing squats.  Be sure your arms are in a low position when squatting and move into a higher position when standing.

Kitchen Sink Stretch

Why it is important:This stretch addresses your whole body and is easy to do. You can increase and decrease the intensity and shift the stretch to different parts of your body. This is wonderful for the shoulders and hips.
How to do it: Stand with your feet directly below your hips and with your toes pointing straight forward.
Stand about an arm’s length from the sink and hold onto the edge of the sink/counter.
Move your butt back as if you were going into a squat.
Let your upper body come forward and down brining your head toward the sink.
Keep a gentle curve in your low back.
Feel the stretch in your arms, ribs, hips and legs.  Focus where you feel the stretch. Keep the stretch gentle and wait for your body to soften.  Hold for 2-3 minutes. Breathe.
Beginner:Use the sink and only stretch as far as comfortable.  Don’t push or force your body.
Step your feet closer to the sink if there is too much stretch on your body.
Intermediate:Bend your knees while dropping your butt back until your arms are parallel with your back. Point the top of your head toward your hands.
Slowly straighten your knees until you feel the stretch.
Advanced:Hold the sink or the door knobs (one hand on each knob on either side of the open door).
Drop your butt back into a full squat.
Lean back gently to stretch your shoulders.
Rock your body gently back and forth shifting your weight from side to side.
Slowly straighten you knees while holding the door knobs until your body is in a 90-degree angle.  Focus on your low back curve.

Reverse Kitchen Sink Stretch

Why it is important:This stretch addresses the front of your shoulders and chest and is easy to do where you can find a door or sink.
How to do it:Stand with the sink or door handles directly behind you. Take a small step forward.  You should be able to reach behind you and feel the door handles or the sink.
Stand with your feet directly below your hips and with your toes pointing straight forward.
Reach back and hold the sink or door handles (each handle on an open door) with your palms facing down and your thumbs facing away from you. If you are using the sink, bring your hands as close together as you can.
Let your upper body come forward.  Take a small step forward with one foot if you need to for balance.
Keep a gentle curve in your low back and your head upright.
Feel the stretch in your arms and ribs.  Focus where you feel the stretch. Keep the stretch gentle and wait for your body to soften.  Hold for 2-3 minutes. Breathe.
Beginner:Use the sink and only stretch as far as comfortable.  Don’t push or force your body.
Step your feet closer to the sink if there is too much stretch on your body.
Intermediate:Bring your hands closer together on the sink or use an open door and hold the handles (one hand on each knob on either side of the open door).
Advanced:Hold the sink or the door knobs (one hand on each knob on either side of the open door).
Slowly bend your knees to add a gentle rotation in the shoulders with the stretch.

Hamstring Stretch


Seated Back of the Leg Stretch


Inner Thigh Stretch


Belly (Psoas) Stretch

Why it is important:The psoas stretch is no one’s favorite but it is so necessary for most of us.  Sitting and standing with a tucked tailbone, which many of us do unconsciously, leads to tight psoas muscles.  It can also tighten up with forward focused activities such as lifting or running.
How to do it:Lay on your tummy on the floor, bed or mat.
Come up on your elbows.
Lift the top of your head straight up (not back).
Hold the stretch for 2-3 minutes or longer.  Feel your body soften.
Beginner:Lay on a bed. The softer surface will make the stretch gentler.
Intermediate:Lay on a harder surface to take the stretch deeper.
Advanced:Once you can easily hold the stretch for a few minutes, try coming up from your elbows to your hands. Keep you shoulders pressed down and away from your ears.    Relax your thigh, hip and butt muscles.
While on your elbows try placing a 3-4-inch ball in your abdominal area. Move the ball and find tender or tight areas. Breathe slowly and deeply waiting for the areas to soften.  Move the ball and find another area.  Repeat.

Paint the Bubble Upper Body Exercise


Three Phase Neck Stretch


Stretch Along with Me