Any exercise program should be customized to meet your needs and introduced gradually. Please consult your physician before beginning any new movement or exercise program.
Stretching is an accessible and easy way to help relieve tension in your body, promote circulation, and maintain a strong connection to your own well-being.
Gentle stretching should not hurt- instead, it allows for a conscious communication with your body that reduces stress. Incorporating a simple, yet efficient, stretching routine a few times a week can have an immense ripple effect on your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Follow along with the steps below for 6 stretches you can do wherever you are!
- Maintain good posture throughout the rest of your body, which will allow you to isolate the intended muscles and do the stretch correctly without compensating by adjusting other areas.
- Make sure your hips are level to or slightly above your knees when seated.
- Remember to keep breathing!
6 Simple Stretches:
1) Neck series: extension, flexion, and rotation
- Keeping your shoulders down and even, look up without crunching the back of your neck.
- Then look down, then to your right and left.
- Next, tilt each ear to its respective shoulder.
- Repeat 5x in each direction.
2) Chin Retraction
- Starting in a neutral position, move your chin back in a straight line (embrace the double chin!).
- Do this move 5 times (up to 10 times each hour)
This exercise allows you to reset your neck posture, which reduces strain. The effective weight of your head on your spine increases from 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position to up to 49 pounds when your head is hunched forward at a 45-degree angle, according to a 2014 study.
3) Scapular Setting or Shoulder Roll
You may have done a “shoulder roll” before- this is very similar, just broken down into 4 specific movements. The intention is to target the shoulder blades (the scapulas) and help your back muscles engage properly with one another.
- For Scapular Setting: maintaining a strong core posture, bring your shoulders forward, then up, then back, then down. This “broken down” version of a shoulder roll will allow you to isolate your full range of motion in your shoulders. You can then reverse this pattern.
- For Shoulder Roll: Move your shoulders fluidly forward, then up toward your ears, then back down into their neutral position. Reverse by push
4) Eagle Arms Pose
- Begin by stacking one elbow on top of the other in front of you. If this is enough of a stretch, feel free to stay here.
- Keeping your shoulders down and away from your ears, move the backs of your hands up and toward each other with your elbows still stacked.
- If your mobility allows, wrap your hands so that your palms touch gently.
- Gently unwrap your arms and repeat on the other side, stacking the other elbow on top (for example, if your right arm was previously under your left arm then this time your right arm will be on top of your left arm).
For this movement, really pay attention to the rest of your body as you progress through the Eagle Arms sequence. Notice if your shoulders try to raise or if your torso moves to overcompensate for the stretch. You want to keep a neutral spine and engaged core as you explore this movement.
5) Seated Cat Cow
6) Seated Hip Stretch
- While seated, set one ankle on your opposite knee. The lifted knee does not have to be perpendicular to the floor, simply stay where it feels comfortable to you while you keep your core engaged and spine elongated.
- As you breathe, rotate your ankle 5x.
Tip: For a deeper stretch, lean forward while keeping your spine straight.
How to Incorporate Stretching Into Your Daily Routine:
- Lead with curiosity 🔎
Each day, ask yourself- how do I feel right now? When you explore how movement makes you feel, you eliminate any overwhelm about “trying” to meet a specific goal that may not reflect what is currently best for you.
- Set a reminder ⏰
Whether it’s a daily alarm on your phone, a post-it note attached to your computer screen, or having a friend text you,
- Start small 🤸
You do not need to stretch for an hour every day or create an intense movement regimen that becomes impossible to maintain. Instead, start with 1 or 2 stretches that feel really good when you do them. Incorporate small movements throughout the day and see how your body responds!