5 Simple Stretches To Keep Your Body Happy and Healthy
Stretching is an important part of any workout routine but sometimes it just feels so boring. When you’re doing the same old stretches for the billionth time, it can be tempting to blow it off, especially when you’re alone and nobody will hold you accountable. Then you pay for it with aches and pains from a body that wasn’t allowed to properly warm up or cool down.
You might be more likely to engage in stretching in an exercise class, but sometimes there’s not enough time to get to one or your favorite one is closed down right now due to the pandemic. Lucky for you, we have found five great stretches you can do at home that will help keep your body healthy and your mind happy.
These stretches were invented by Natasha Nikolaeva and Marina Skladchikova, who co-founded the StretchIt App, These only take a few minutes to do and target multiple muscle groups at once, giving you great value for a small amount of time invested.
Pike, Table Top, & Shoulder Stretch
This exercise improves your flexibility and strengthens your core by targeting the shoulders and hip flexors.
Step 1: Start seated on the floor with your knees bent and your hands planted on the floor under your shoulders.
Step 2: As you exhale, push the floor away and rock back, sinking your belly in to fold your chest toward your thighs, and lifting your hips as high as possible, sending them up and back. Your heels and the palms of your hands should continue to rest on the floor, and your legs should be straight. Inhale.
Step 3: On your exhale, bring your hips forward and through your arms, then lift them high to the ceiling and plant your feet on the floor, coming into a tabletop position. Let your head release back as you inhale.
Step 4: With an exhale, lower your hips to the floor and return to your starting position with knees bent. Hold here for a breath.
This exercise works your arms and targets your lower, middle and upper back.
Step 1: Start in child’s pose, with your big toes together and your knees wide.
Step 2: Bend your elbows and begin diving forward through your arms, starting with your forehead and pulling forward until your hips reach the floor. Press your palms into the floor, straighten your arms, and arch your head and back into a cobra pose.
Step 3: At the top of your cobra, tuck your chin to your chest. Then begin to round your spine, coming onto your knees into cat pose before shifting all the weight back into your child’s pose.
Continue this waving action through the spine 4 to 6 times.
Flunge to Side Bend
This exercise opens your hips, eases muscle tension in your legs, improves flexibility in your spine, and stretches the side of your body.
Step 1: Start in a kneeling position, with your thighs lifted off your calves and your chest held upright. Then step your right leg to the side, toes facing away from you, and bend your right knee, coming into a flunge: half froggie, half lunge. Sink your hips as low as possible. When you find your maximum range of motion, hold there for a breath.
Step 2: With an inhale, extend your right leg, flex your foot and reach your left arm up and overhead, creating a side bend. Take your gaze up towards the ceiling and breathe into your left side. Stay here for a breath and repeat.
Continue moving between a flunge and a side bend four times. Then repeat on the other side.
Lizard Twist & Kicks
This exercise opens your hips, stretches your groin and hip flexors, works your hamstrings, increases the range of motion in your shoulders, and releases tension in your spine.
Step 1: Begin on your hands and knees. Step your left foot forward, letting it land gently on the outside of your left hand. Turn your foot out and allow your thigh to roll open into a lizard pose.
Step 2: Drop your back hip and sink your weight down and forward. Continue to externally rotate your front thigh. With an inhale, circle your left arm forward, up, and back, twisting to the left. Follow your hand with your gaze. Find your maximum twist and, with an exhale, return to your original position.
Step 3: Bend the back leg, flex the foot and kick the heel to your butt three times. Then extend the leg, point the foot, and repeat.
Continue this sequence four times; then switch sides.
Lunge to Standing Split Pulses
This exercise increases flexibility in your hip flexors and hamstrings, improves balance, and increases strength in your legs and glutes.
Step 1: Start in a standing lunge with your right foot forward, directly under your knee. Bring your hands to your hips. Stay here for a breath.
Step 2: With an exhale, push the floor away with your left foot, place your hands on the floor to frame your front foot, and lift your left leg up as high as possible while keeping your balance. Keep your right leg slightly bent.
Step 3: Point your toes and pulse the leg higher three times. Then return to your lunge.
Repeat this sequence four times; then switch sides.
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