A stretch routine for those suffering with M.E, CFS or fatigue of any kind

UPDATE! Slightly different way of explaining some of the stretches to aid clarity.

What is Pain?
Some find it difficult to understand the difference between pain and comfort with reference to tension. Pain is measured on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is the sensation of someone touching you and 10 is agony. No matter what anyone else can cope with, your sensitivity to pain can alter with all conditions and states of health.
So when stretching allow the stretch to fall within your comfort zone. It is not the intensity of the stretch that is important in this regime but the length of time it is held. The length of time should also fall within your comfort zone. So if 30 seconds makes you feel uncomfortable then stop!

This stretch routine has been designed for those who are suffering from fatigue for any reason.

Essential to read this Important Advice first before attempting these stretches.

I can’t stress enough the importance of reading this Bullet Points advice first before you attempt the stretch programme. Thank you.

See also this praise for this stretch programme from a Praise for the Stretch Routine of this site.

1. Neck and Upper Back stretch

Stretch routine diagram.

Lying on your back in bed when you first wake up: Check that you are lying straight with knees bent and support your head with a pillow.

Stretch routine diagram.

Put your hands behind your head and using your hands pull your head off the pillow and down towards your chest as if you are trying to touch the chest with your chin. You will feel sparky sensations from your head down through your spine to the middle of your back. Release your head and put it gently down on the pillow.

Only pull your head up as far as you can manage.
Repeat for 3 to 5 times. Each time should feel slightly easier.
Stop if it hurts or feels uncomfortable or you simply don’t like the sensation.

This movement will make you feel as if you are choking yourself. Take it as far as you can stand. We will stretch the throat later.

2. Lower Back stretch

Now lying back – remove the pillow so that your head is flat on the bed. This will produce some ‘feelings’ in your upper back. Put the pillow back under your head again if it hurts. If it doesn’t hurt then continue to lie flat on the bed and relax and allow your body to sink into the mattress.

Stretch routine diagram.

Bring both knees one at a time up to your chest. With your arms doing the work pull your knees to your chest and feel the stretch in the lower back. Release your arms and then pull the knees up again. Do not rock the body. Let your arms do the work. It is a pull and release with the arms.

3. Buttock Stretch

Stretch routine diagram.

Put one foot back onto the bed so that leg is bent. With the other leg, cross that leg over the bent leg and pull that knee across your body so that you feel a stretch in your buttock. Hold for 30 seconds.

Repeat this position with the other leg.

4. Hamstring (back of thigh), Calf, Shin stretch

With both legs bent and feet on the bed, bring one leg up to your chest and try and straighten it. You will feel the stretch in the back of the leg, behind the knee and in the buttock.

Stretch routine diagram.

This is a very strong stretch, if you straighten your leg too much it may be painful so reduce the angle of stretch ie bend your knee slightly. When you have found the position that is comfortable and you are still able to feel a comfortable stretch, hold your leg in that position for about 30 seconds, or as long as you can cope.
If you point your toes while holding the stretch (for a count of 10) and pull your toes up towards your shin (for a count of 10) you will stretch the lower leg muscles as well. Return foot to bed keeping legs bent.

Repeat with the other leg.

5. Inside leg (adductor) stretch

Stretch routine diagram.

With both feet on the bed, take one leg out to the side to stretch the inside of the leg. Support the leg with your arm and allow your arm to bring your leg back to centre when you have finished.
Hold for 30 seconds.

Do the same with the other leg.

6. Outside leg ( abductor stretch)

Stretch routine diagram.
This diagram is not quite correct, the hips need to follow as both knees are dropped to one side, keeping both the shoulders on the bed. The stretch is felt in the waist first.

With both feet on the bed and keeping legs bent, drop both knees as if they are glued together down to one side allowing the hips to follow but keeping the shoulders on the bed. Extend the upper leg and keep the foot on the bed. The stretch is now felt down the side of the leg radiating from the buttocks and waist. If this is not too strong, increase the stretch by moving your foot on the bed up to your shoulders. When you feel the intensity of the stretch that is comfortable, stop and hold that stretch for 30 seconds or what you can manage. Don’t let it hurt. This is a strong stretch.
Return legs to the centre and keep them bent and feet on bed.
Push your back into the bed, lift your buttocks and roll back down.
Do the same with the other leg.

7. Stomach, throat stretch
(Image waiting for publication)

Turn over onto your stomach.

If you have lower back problems then keep your elbows on the bed as you stretch your head and chin upwards.

Stomach and throat stretch
Put both arms bent with your elbows in line with your shoulders and your hands on the bed for support and push up and feel the stretch in your stomach.
Do not let your back hurt.
If you feel you are able , then allow the arms to straighten taking the elbows off the bed, so that you achieve a bigger stretch of the stomach.
Allow your arms to bring you gently down on to the bed again and relax. Do this 3 – 5 times.
This movement stretches the stomach muscles.

While at the point of stretch tilt your head back and keep your mouth closed and feel also the stretch under your chin. This is a strong stretch from your stomach to your mouth – do not let anything hurt and stop if it does.

Keep your feet firmly on the bed and do NOT lift the feet up while lifting your shoulders off the bed. Very important with this stretch to STOP if anything hurts or feels uncomfortable.

8. Quad Stretch (front of thigh)
If you have a pronounced arch in your back or lower back problems put a cushion under your stomach and then try the front of thigh stretch. This front of thigh stretch (Quad stretch) can be achieved standing up but because of fatigue, it is tiring to do in the standing position.

Stretch routine diagram.

Lying back on the bed on your stomach pull one leg up behind you and grab with hand and pull foot slightly to one side of buttock, you will feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. If you are able to tilt your pelvis up towards your stomach you will also feel the stretch in your groin. Hold for 30 seconds if you can.
Repeat with the other leg.

9. Spine Stretch

Stretch routine diagram.

Now sit on the edge of the bed. Allow your head to drop forward into your lap. This will stretch the neck and the upper back down to the base of your spine. Allow your head to dangle for as long as is comfortable. This may only be 5 seconds to start with. As the weight of your head pulls you down towards the floor support yourself by putting your chest on your legs and your hands dangle to the floor.

10. Neck Muscle stretches

Stretch routine diagram.
(Images awaiting publication for all of these movements)

1. Sitting back up again and looking straight ahead, allow one ear to drop towards your shoulder as if you are trying to put the back of the ear onto the shoulder of the same side as your ear. Feel the stretch on the other side of your neck. Rather than pull to feel the stretch – allow the weight of the head to pull itself towards your shoulder. Allow it to hang like that for 30 seconds. Return head to centre and look straight ahead.
Repeat with the other side.

2. Return your head to face the front, turn to look over one shoulder, as if you are bringing your chin around to look behind you. Hold for a short while (5 Seconds) or for as long as you can cope with.
Repeat with the other side.

3. Return your head to face the front. Bring your chin down onto your chest to stretch your neck as before. Return head to centre.
4. Looking straight ahead, tilt your chin up to feel a stretch under your chin, keep your mouth closed. Bring your head to face the front and look straight ahead. Now bring your chin down towards your chest again to stretch the neck.

5. Bring the head back to face directly in front of you. Turn your head a quarter turn sideways. Now tilt the head back. You should feel a stretch from your clavicle (bony protuberance at the base of your throat) up to the base of and behind your ear. This is a strong stretch.
Bring your head back to centre so that you are facing in front of you, and repeat with the other side of your head.

11. Shoulder stretch and upper back
(Image awaiting publication)

Bring your shoulders together in front of you as if you are trying to separate your shoulder blades. In this position feel as if you are trying to push your spine out from in between the shoulder blades. Push for about 5 seconds.

12. Chest and upper arm stretch
(Image awaiting publication)
Put your hands behind your back, palms up. Straighten your arms. Lift arms up to increase the stretch across the chest. Now with arms still straight try to touch your thumbs together. (impossible to do with arms straight, it increases the stretch to the upper arm and chest)

This is a great stretch for opening up the chest and stretching the pecs as well as the muscles in the upper arms.
Try not to stick your chin out as you do this and try not to arch your back. Push the arms towards each other and release. Slow push and release for about 3 – 5 times. Do not bounce or you will turn this from a stretch to an exercise and you may find your arms will ache the next day.

The stretches are now complete.

Lie back on the bed with knees bent and relax. Breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly once or twice and then allow your breathing to do what it wants. Some of those reading this may be breathing hard, others may be breathing gently. Breathe as your body wants. Relax. Sleep if you want.

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