Incorporating solid stretch time into the day is one of those things that offers benefits most people don’t know about. There are many general perks, but there are also specific ones to practice based on your lifestyle.
Whether you’re a nine-to-fiver, a frequent jet setter, or a gym rat, our weekly stretch tips will keep you feeling your best. Just remember that any stretch should never be taken to the point of pain.
If you sit at a desk all day….
Tight hips and shoulders, poor(er) posture, and random aches and pains are a few common pitfalls that come with the 9-to-5 lifestyle. Since your boss probably won’t be a fan of hourly stretch breaks, try giving these a shot. You can do most of them right from your desk!
- Seated spinal rotation – while seated, cross your arms over your chest and grab your shoulders. Next, rotate your upper body from the waist, turning from left to right as far as possible. You’ve nailed it if you feel tension on both sides of your lower back as you stretch.
- Neck rotation – keep your head upright and shoulders back. Gently turn your head from side to side, trying to move it past your shoulder. You’re doing it right if you feel the muscles on the outside of your neck stretching.
- Hip flexor stretch – kneel on your right knee with your toes down, and place your left foot flat on the floor in front of you. Place both hands on your left thigh and press your hips forward until you feel a good stretch in your hips. Try to contract your abs and tilt your pelvis back simultaneously while keeping your chin parallel to the floor. Hold this for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
If you’re a frequent traveler…
Jet setters know that fatigue, jet lag, and muscle tightness are no fun, but comes with the territory of traveling. Fortunately a good stretch session will counteract those blah feelings. You can get started right on the plane!
- Ankle stretches – circle your foot clockwise, and then counterclockwise, repeating 10 times per foot.
- Knee hugs – Raise a knee towards your chest, hugging it at the top for at least 15 seconds. Then release, drop your leg, and switch sides. For some smiles and perhaps even some followers, do this one down the plane’s aisle when it’s safe.
- Walking – give those legs a good stretch with a brisk walk when you’ve arrived at your destination. Bonus points for going outside to do it. That’s one of the best ways to combat jet lag.
If the gym is your home-away-from-home…
Gym goers battle lactic acid buildup (a burning sensation in the muscles), muscle imbalances, and spasms. That means that even the fittest athlete needs to stretch often for preventative reasons. Attack these issues head-on by trying these stretches.
- Foam rolling – using a foam roller reduces the buildup of lactic acid by stimulating blood flow and encouraging lymphatic drainage. A fitness professional can teach you proper technique.
- Lateral lunge – start with your feet together and arms straight out in front of you. Next, step out to the left, bending your left knee at a 90 degree angle while pushing your hips back and lower down. Push up to return to the starting position and alternate sides. By shifting your weight from side to side, you’re engaging supporting muscles which help with balance.
- Hamstring stretch – stand with your legs crossed and the outsides of your feet together. Then slowly bend over with your rear knee straight and reach toward your feet or bring your torso toward your legs. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat. (Pro tip: if you’re already cramping when you start this, begin with your cramping leg behind your other leg.)