Simple Stretching for Wellness (in 5-10 Minutes)!
Yes, it’s really that simple, timely, and effective!
Especially if you spend most of your day sitting, I encourage you to dedicate some time to taking a break from sitting to stretch some muscles that have shortened and feel tight. Commonly tight muscles include the upper and lower back, hamstrings, front of the shoulders and chest, hip flexors, and calves.
How do you know which muscles to stretch and what to do? I have you covered!
(Please note: While these stretches are appropriate for the general population, it is advised to consult with your physician with any concerns before beginning any type of exercise program and listen to your own body to avoid pain and/or injury. If you experience any pain, stop immediately.)
The stretches illustrated and described below that are on one side of the body should be repeated on the other side of the body to promote proper muscle balance.
An appropriate stance for proper form and alignment for the stretches below (unless otherwise indicated) is standing with the feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, neutral neck and spine, gazing forward.
It is generally advised to hold each static (still, non-moving) stretch for 3-5 slow breaths, or 15-30 seconds.
It is also generally advised to stretch to the end of range of motion without inducing pain. Visualize range of motion gently increasing and the muscles letting go a bit more with each breath.
Wrists & Hands
Thumb circles (clockwise and counter clockwise)
Upper Back &
Back of Shoulders
Chest & Front of Shoulders
Quadriceps (Quads)/Front of Thighs
Hamstrings/Back of Thighs
Calves (Back of Lower Legs)
If you would prefer to follow a guided stretching routine, check out my video below! It includes most of the stretches illustrated and described above. 🙂
To add to my descriptions and illustrations above, I came across this Web MD resource of hand and finger exercises to share. Specifically, I recommend considering #1-#3, #6, and #8-#10, particularly for those who work with their hands a lot (e.g. crocheters and knitters, those typing on a computer).
Additionally, for those who want to focus more on opening up their tight hips, check out this resource from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list/library, as there are so many effective stretches out there to choose from that address all sorts of muscle groups of the body. But I hope this gives you some ideas and education surrounding how to stretch properly and is at least a starting point for you in your journey of considering and implementing your own stretching routine, based on your individual interests, needs, and goals.
Cross-training and implementing healthy habits for a balanced, active lifestyle are so important. Check out my Strengthening Exercises for Weak Muscles from Prolonged Sitting blog post to nicely compliment the content in this blog post.
Finally, if you want to work with me personally to help you reach your health, fitness, and wellness goals, I offer online personal training services as well as virtual bootcamp program sessions individually and in small groups. (My next Tabata Bootcamp™ Virtual Bootcamp program session starts in January 2019 and registration is open now!)
Feel free to reach out to me anytime with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My sources: I’ve relied upon my education and experience within the fitness industry to put together this blog post. I hold certifications through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Athletics & Fitness Association of America (AFAA), which are both accredited by the National Commission of Certified Agencies (NCCA). You can learn more about me as a fitness professional here!
I created this blog post as an additional resource that relates to my conversation with Brittany of the BHooked podcast, as she invited me on her show as a featured guest for her 90th episode to talk about Setting Up an Ergonomic and Healthy Lifestyle. I recommend listening to that podcast episode for even more information on workstation ergonomics, stretching and strengthening targeted muscles, and healthy living!