5 Easy Stretches Your Body Will Thank You for

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When we were kids we knew that stretching was important because they told us so, we avoided it if it meant we skipped right to recess. Now that we’ve grown up a bit, we wouldn’t step out the door in our running shoes without first warming up and stretching. We know it’s good for us so we do it.

In this day and age where we’re frequently sitting for 12-15 hours a day, we’re not moving as much as we should or would like to. Does that mean that stretching is no longer beneficial to our bodies? Absolutely not! Even if the most you can manage some days is the walk to and from your car (all while deliberately avoiding eye contact with your running shoes), stretching will help maintain your flexibility and mobility, strengthen your muscles, and can even provide neck and back pain relief that are symptoms of our common daily activities.

Poor posture, cell phone use, sitting, and overall lack of movement are common neck and back pain causes. I know you’re doing your very best to keep your body moving, sit up straight, and maintain an overall healthy lifestyle, but when it’s just one of those days, here are 5 easy stretches your body will thank you for no matter what…

Cobra

The Cobra stretches your abdominal muscles and opens up the chest. It also strengthens your arms and helps to relieve tension in the lower back.

How To

  1.     Lay flat on your stomach on a solid surface with your legs straight out behind you and parallel to each other.
  2.     Place your palms on the floor under your shoulders with your fingers spread wide, facing forward.
  3.     Keep the tops of your feet and thighs pressed into the floor.
  4.     Keeping your elbows close to your body, push your shoulders up off the floor.
  5.     Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds before slowly lowering yourself back to the floor.

Tips and Tricks

  •      Avoid tension in the shoulder by keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
  •      Increase muscle involvement by straightening arms and

Downward dog

Downward dog is excellent. Not only does it stretch your wrists to your shoulders, and your back, hamstrings, and calves, but it also helps to build muscle strength and bone density due to its weight bearing nature.

How To

  1.     Begin by lowering yourself to the floor into a kneeling position. Alternatively, start flat on the floor and push yourself up with your hands into a kneeling position.
  2.     Adjust your hands and wrists so that they are directly below your shoulders with your fingers spread wide and your knees so that they are directly below your hips.
  3.     Place your feet so that your soles of your feet are facing directly behind you and your toes are supporting the weight of your foot.
  4.     Lift your knees off the ground and straighten your legs.
  5.     Straighten your arms and push your chest in the direction of your toes.
  6.     Focus on engaging the muscles in your legs to keep them straight by trying to reach the floor with your heels and continue to bring your chest towards your toes and the floor.
  7.     Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds.
  8.     Release by dropping slowly to your knees.

Tips and Tricks

  • Increase the stretch by bending one knee and then the other (similar to a pedaling motion with your toes stationary) every five seconds. This places more weight on one leg and allows a deeper stretch for your calves and ankles.
  • Increase strength by starting in a plank position and “pushing up” into the downward dog. Release by pushing back into the plank. Repeat.

Cat Cow

Cat Cow is a combination of two stretches (the cat and the cow.) The Cat Cow stretches your hips, abdomen, and spine. It also moves your spine and body in a way that’s great as a warm up to further activity.

How To

  1.     Begin by lowering yourself to the floor into a kneeling position. Alternatively, start flat on the floor and push yourself up with your hands into a kneeling position.
  2.     Adjust your hands and wrists so that they are directly below your shoulders with your fingers spread wide and your knees so that they are directly below your hips.
  3.     Place your feet so that your soles of your feet are facing upwards and the top of your foot is on the floor.
  4.     Inhale as you drop/dip your navel towards the ground and turn your chest and face upwards.
  5.     Exhale as you release this position and curve your spine in the opposite direction. Curl your neck so that you are now looking towards your navel.
  6.     Repeat, ensuring that you are breathing deeply with each movement.

Tips and Tricks

Increase abdominal muscle involvement by completing this stretch with this variation.

  1.     Lift the top of your feet and shins off the ground
  2.     Support your weight with the tips of your toes.
  3.     Be careful to keep your hovering shins parallel to the ground and knees directly below your hips.

Seated Spiral Twist

The Seated Spiral Twist is particularly useful in stretching the back and glutes. In addition to stretching your muscles, it helps to decompress pressure on the spine, redirect and increase blood flow, as well as massage organs responsible for digestion which encourages everything to move where it’s supposed to!

How To

  1.     Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you
  2.     Take your right leg and cross it over to the other side of your left leg.
  3.     Place your right foot by your left knee.
  4.     Turn your torso to the right and place your left elbow slightly in front of/against the outside of your right leg.
  5.     Sit up straight with your shoulders relaxed. You should be looking straight ahead of you (in relation to the position of your torso.)
  6.     Breathe in and out deeply and hold the pose for 15-20 seconds.
  7.     Repeat with other side.

Tips and Tricks

Ways to deepen this stretch

  •      Bring your foot higher up your thigh and as close to your glutes a possible.
  •      After crossing your right foot over, curl your left leg in so that your left foot is resting near your right buttock.
  •      Turn your head so that your chin is hovering over your right shoulder. With each exhale stretch a little further so that you are eventually looking directly behind you (do not stretch more than is comfortable, build up to this slowly.)

You can even modify this stretch to be done sitting in an office chair! Simply place your feet firmly on the ground in front of you, reach your left arm straight across your body and brace it against your desk. Turn your chest to your right while keeping your hips stationary.

Related: 11 Easy Office Stretches to Reduce Back and Neck Pain

Legs up the wall

Putting your legs up the wall is great for stretching the lower back as well as the back of your legs. However, this pose packs a bigger punch than just some stretching. This inverted position helps to regulate blood flow, aids in relieving cramps and headaches, as well as provides relief to tired legs and feet. You can spend 30 seconds or minutes in this pose and you will reap these benefits and feel more energized!

Related: 5 Ways to Boost Energy Without Caffeine       

How To

  •      Find a wall clear of photographs, protrusions, etc., that has enough floor space in front of it.
  •      Sit on the floor close to and parallel with the wall.
  •      Lay on your back and keep your legs together and swing them up against the wall.
  •      Scoot so that your butt is right up against the wall.
  •      Straighten your legs as much as you can. It’s okay to have a bend, over time you will be able to rest the entire surface of the back of your legs against the wall.
  •      You can spread your arms out to the side, above your head, or rst them on your stomach, whatever is most comfortable.
  •      Hold this position for a minimum of 30 seconds and then as long as you desire.

Tips and Tricks

  •      Alleviate pressure on lower back by propping the natural space between your back and the floor with pillows, blankets, bolster, etc.
  •      Alternatively, lift your hips further of the floor for a deeper inversion.
  •      Alter the stretch in your legs by spreading them wide or bringing them into a butterfly position.

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Melissa

About Melissa

Melissa is the Community and Content Marketing Manager at Lumo Bodytech. She spends her free time reading, doing karaoke, and training for her next triathlon.

1 Comment

  • Christopher T. Cory
    Christopher T. Cory
    09.06.2017

    Nice format. useful though I do yoga.

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