When you wake up in the morning, your body does its own involuntary sequence of stretches without even thinking of it. You may point your toes toward the end of the best, arch your back and reach your arms above your head. You may have always thought “this is just the way I wake up,” not that your body has been in the same position for hours so it needs to stretch out to get up.
We aren’t always doing the proper stretching throughout the day as we sit idle at our desks and often neglect to stretch even when doing physical exercise. Studies have shown that proper stretching is important and can improve the range of motion around your joints and improve blood circulation, boost oxygen levels, help deliver nutrients to your muscles as well as relieve stress and tension.
There are some easy stretches you can do every day to help increase your flexibility and your daily quality of life.
- Ground quadricep stretch
If you run daily, you should definitely stretch your quadriceps, but even if you are not a runner, this is a very important part of your body to stretch and it is quite simple. Just lay down on your left side and extend your left arm out for balance. Then take your right arm and grab your right foot, bending your knee and pulling your foot toward your lower glute. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch to your other side.
- Hamstring stretch
Your hamstring is the muscle group responsible for bending and flexing your knee. A simple hamstring stretch can improve your walking and running as well as alleviate lower back pain. For a simple hamstring stretch all you do is sit on the ground with your legs extended and toes pointed up. Bend at the waist, slowly, and as far as possible while keeping your knees straight. Hold that position, as far as you can go with your knees straight, for 15-30 seconds and repeat three times.
- Calf stretches
Your calves are responsible for your speed-up and slow-down muscles. They are called into action when you need to sprint, or slow down and stop and not fall on your face. An important stretch for the calf muscle is a simple calf raise. All you need to do is stand on a flat surface and lift up to your toes. This should be done 15-20 times and repeated three times. If you need more of a challenge, stand on a step to remove the surface below your heel.
- Spinal twists
Your backside is always working hard to keep your body upright. Sitting idle for hours at a time can lead to tightness in your glutes. A spinal twist is a simple and effective way to stretch out your glutes, and you can do it at your desk while sitting. Just extend your legs in front of you while in your chair. Then bend your right knee, hug it with your left arm while pulling your right heel close to you. Do all of this while your right hand is securely on ground behind you to all for the stretch to engage. Again, hold for 15-30 seconds and switch to the other side.
- Hip flexor stretch
Your hips are in a flexed position when you sit, which means their surrounding muscles are in a shortened state for hours at a time. To stretch your hip flexors along with your groin, kneel down with your back straight and your butt off the ground. Keep your right knee on the ground and lift your left knee up and plant your left foot on the ground to create a 90-degree angle. While in this position, squeeze your glutes to engage your hip flexors and groin while driving your hip forward and knee to the ground. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Chest opener
Muscles in your chest and around your heart can tense up so it is important to stretch them up. A simple chest stretch can help deliver air throughout the body as well. All you need to do is stand facing a corner of a room and stagger your feet behind you. Extend your arms out to your side, bend them at the elbow with your forearms pointing up and your palms facing out, pressing against each wall. Just lean inward and push your chest toward the wall and feel it stretch. Again, hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat three times.