Safe Conditioning Exercises and Stretches

By: Lynn Norris Mountain View Alternative High School Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia

There are many safe exercises and stretches. I have included one safe alternative exercise for each of the dangerous exercises. These safe exercises will work or stretch the same muscles. Stretching is actually a gentle thing, which should not be painful. If it is painful, you may be stretching too far. Try to hold each stretch for about thirteen seconds.

 | Risky Exercises |

 Safe Stretches

1. Pelvic Tilt - Lying on the back feet flat on the floor knees bent, push the lower back into the floor, pulling the abdominals tight.

2. Standing Pelvic Tilt - Stand with knees slightly bent, pull abdominals in, tucking buttocks under.

3. Lower Back Stretch - Lying on the floor bring both knees up to the chest and hold.

4. Standing Lower Back Stretch - Round the lower back by using the abdominal muscles to produce an extreme posterior pelvic tilt.

5. Hamstring Stretch - Lying on back with opposite leg bent, grasp leg above and below the back of the knee and pull the straight leg toward chest.

6. Standing Hamstring Stretch - With one leg straight and the other bent lean forward at the waist, using the hands on the floor or on thighs for support.

7. Standing Quad Stretch - While standing, grab ankle and point knee straight down. This can also be done lying on the side.

8. Hip Flexor Stretch - Take a deep lunge position with knee directly over ankle and hands on the floor.

9. Hip Adductor Stretch - Butterfly stretch sitting on the floor with feet together gently press elbows on knees, hands on ankles.

10. Hip Abductor Stretch - Sitting with bottom leg straight and the other bent over it, turn the chest toward the knee and hold.

11. Calf Stretch - Lunge position, front leg slightly bent has knee directly over ankle, back leg straight with heel down on floor, both toes are facing forward. Shift body weight forward over the front foot.

12. Soleus Stretch - Same position as calf stretch, stand up, shift weight slightly to the back and bend the back knee.

13. Hurdler’s Stretch -Sitting with one leg straight forward and the other leg bent with foot toward midline of body.

14. Sitting Hamstring Stretch - Sitting with legs in a pike or V seat position lean forward with a straight back and hold towards feet.

15. Neck Stretches - Right ear to right shoulder circle front until left ear touches left shoulder.

16. Neck Stretches -Look to the right moving chin in line with right shoulder then look to the left moving chin in line with the left shoulder.

17. Neck Stretches -Touch right ear to right shoulder and left ear to left shoulder.

18. Neck Stretches - Gently pull head down in front using the hand and gently pull neck to the side.

19. Arm Stretch - Left hand across front of body on upper back, gently pull back on upper arm using the right hand.



The following are muscular endurance exercises. Start with two sets of twenty each. Most exercises can be made safer by using correct form. Remember to bend the knees, pelvic tilt, and keep the head and back in alignment during exercise.

1. Quadriceps and Hamstrings Strengthening - Sitting with one leg outstretched in front and the other leg bent, with foot flat on the floor, lift the straight leg, slowly and hold, keeping back straight.

2. Back Strengthening - Lying on the stomach lift the left arm out straight and the right leg out straight together, then lower. Now lift the right arm and the left leg, trying to keep the back as straight as possible.

3. Neck Strengthening - Lying on the floor, knees bent, lift the head forward, chin toward the chest and hold.

4. Neck Strengthening - With both hands clasped behind head push head against hands and provide resistance by pushing hands against head. Do the same on both sides of the head and on the forehead.

5. Curl - ups - (Upper Abdominal work ) With knees bent and feet flat on floor, lift the upper body towards the ceiling.

6. Lateral Abdominal Work - (Obliques) Lying on the floor with knees in toward chest lift the right elbow toward the left knee and the left elbow lifts across to the right knee.

7. Reverse Curls - (Lower Abdominal work) Lying on back with knees bent toward chest lift knees in to touch chest and down again.

 8. Strengthening Hip Abductor - Lying on the side with the bottom leg bent, top leg straight, lift the top leg toward the ceiling and lower slowly.

9. Strengthening Hip Adductor - With the top leg bent over and the bottom leg straight lift the bottom leg and lower slowly to the floor.

10. Arm Strengthening - Arms extended on each side press down and lift up. This can also be done with light hand weights.

11. Triceps - Arms extended straight, bring fists under and out. This can also be done with light hand weights.

12. Bicep Curls - Arms at side, one arm at a time, bend elbow bringing forearm toward upper arm. This can also be done using light hand weights.

 13. Push-ups -

  • Elbows should not be locked when arms are fully extended or overbent when at the lowest part of the pushup.
  • The buttocks should be a little up, out of line with the rest of you body, in order to protect the low back.
  • Stomach muscles must be held in.
  • Head should be aligned not raised or dropped.
  • The goal should be to increase the number of repetitions, the speed should remain slow and constant.
  • Start with a certain number of bent knee push-ups, then increase the number gradually. Increase the intensity by increasing the level of difficulty, by using straddle push-ups, then progress to straight leg push-ups.