MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Missouri S&T     ●    St. Louis - Food and Fitness


Feature Articles: Exercise


Time For Spring Training  

Linda Rellergert, Nutrition Specialist in St. Charles County
University of Missouri Extension




Just as baseball players need spring training to get in shape for the upcoming baseball season, this is a great time to start preparing our bodies for warm weather activities like gardening and yard work. A little time each day doing a few stretching and strengthening exercises will help prepare muscles that have been resting since last fall. The payoff will be reduced risk of injury and fewer sore muscles.

Before starting, be sure to warm up muscles by doing a little bit of easy walking and arm-pumping first. Pain, especially joint pain should not be part of the spring training experience. Reduce the stretch to a more comfortable level, or reduce the intensity of strengthening exercises. Mild discomfort or a mild pulling sensation during stretches is normal.

Calf Stretch
Stretches lower leg muscles in two ways: with knee straight and knee bent. While standing, place your hands on a wall, with arms outstretched, elbows straight. Keeping your left knee slightly bent, toes of right foot slightly turned inward, move your right foot back one or two feet, with your right heel and foot flat on the floor. You should feel a stretch in your right calf muscle, but you shouldn't feel uncomfortable. If you don't feel a stretch, move your right foot farther back until you do. Keep your right knee straight and hold that position for 10 to 30 seconds. Continuing to keep your right heel and foot on the floor, bend your right knee and hold for another 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat with opposite leg. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

Hamstring Stretch
Stretches muscles in the back of the thigh. Stand behind a chair, with your legs straight. Hold the back of the chair with both hands. Bend forward from your hips (not your waist), keeping your entire back and shoulders straight the whole time, until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Don't "hump" any part of your back or shoulders at any time. Hold position for 10 to 30 seconds. You should feel a stretch in the backs of your thighs. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Quadriceps Stretch
Stretches muscles in front of thighs. Lie on your left side, on the floor. Your hips should be lined up so that the right one is directly above the left one. Rest your head on a pillow or your left hand. Bend your right knee, reach back with your right hand, and hold onto your right heel. If you can't reach your heel with your hand, loop a belt over your right foot. Pull slightly (with your hand or with the belt) until the front of your right thigh feels stretched. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds. Reverse position and repeat with other leg. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side. If the back of your thigh cramps during this exercise, stretch your leg and try again, more slowly.



Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








University of Missouri logo links to

Site Administrator:
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity

MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri