Whether your a star athlete, or working out just isn’t your thing, being flexible has many health benefits. It can help reduce stress and tension, increase circulation, help improve your posture, and reduce your risk for injury.
While I workout everyday, I don’t consider myself super flexible and by all means, can’t do the splits. If you’re in the same boat, here are eight stretches I do each day to help fight aches, pains, and increase my range of motion.
1. Chest and Upper Back Stretches
Stand up straight with feet hip-width distance apart. Keeping your arms straight, raise your arms up high and back over your shoulders, while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
2. Upper Shoulder Stretch
This stretch is great for those that sit hunched over at a desk all day. Grab a towel, and place it over your left shoulder. Grab the towel behind your back with your right hand and then gently pull up with your left hand. Hold for 10-15 seconds the release, switch hands, and repeat. This move can be down either sitting or standing.
3. Supine Hamstring Stretch
Lie flat on your back and then lift your left leg into the air, so it is 90 degrees to the floor. Keeping your knee slightly bent, put your hand around your hamstring or calf and pull your leg towards your chest.
Hold for 10-15 seconds then lower leg back to the floor. Repeat with your right leg. Not even close to reaching your leg with your hands? Use a towel or yoga strap around your foot to help with the flexion.
4. Windshield Wiper Twist
This exercise is good for your hips. Lay on your back on the floor and spread your feet slightly wider than hip-distance width apart. Outstretch your arms so your torso forms a “T.” Gently lower your left knee to your right ankle. Return to center, then gently lower your right knee to your left ankle. Repeat 5 times.
5. Spinal Twist
This exercise is good for your torso, spine and neck. Start by laying on the floor. While keeping your left leg straight, bring your right knee into your chest. On the exhale, drop your right knee across your body. Then extend your right arm and look out over your right shoulder. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Then do the other side.
6. Standing Wall Calf Stretch
Stand about two feet away from a wall or step. Step forward with your right foot and place the ball of your right foot on the wall (keep your heel on the ground). Softly lean forward while keeping your knee straight. Hold for 10-15 seconds then step back and repeat with your right leg.
7. Foot & Arch Stretch
This is by far, my favorite stretch. Grab a golf ball, tennis ball, or lacrosse ball, baseball. Place it under the arch of your foot, apply light to moderate pressure, and roll the ball around under your arch. Ahh it feels so good!
8. Standing Side Stretch
This move looks simple, but does require some balance and coordination. Stand with your feet together, ankles lightly touching. Raise your hands above your head, clasp your palms together, and pint your pinter fingers straight up. Slowly bend to the left, exhaling through the bend. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Inhale as you straighten back up. Repeat on the right side. On this stretch, it’s important to not allow your opposite hip to pop out or bulge as you bend.