Health

Top five stretches to do every day

31st January 2017

If you’re a busy mum or dad, chances are you spend most of your day rushed off your feet. But there are a few quick and easy ways that you can help your mind and body balance the stress of a busy life.


Whether it’s 30 seconds or 10 minutes, throwing a few stretches into your day can help you feel more energised and improve clarity of mind. Plus, they can help enhance your posture and increase the range of motion in your joints so that you are less likely to injure yourself as you go about your to-do list.

Lunge

If you’ve been sitting at your desk all day, or driving the kids around on a busy afternoon, the muscles on top of your hips can tighten up, pushing your bottom out and increasing the pressure on your lower back. A few lunges on each leg is one way to alleviate this pressure.

  1. From standing, take a large step forward and bend your front knee to 90 degrees.
  2. Bring your back knee down to the floor, with sole of your foot facing up.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and squeeze your glutes to enhance the stretch, maintaining a neutral spine.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds each side.

Supine twist

Back, shoulder and neck pain is often the result of a tightness or lack of flexibility in the middle-region of the back. Again, this is often the result of long bouts of sitting or staying fixed in one position.

The great thing about a supine twist is that it is a stretch that can be done on the floor or in bed, both morning and night - so there’s no excuse!

  1. Lying down, spread both arms out to shoulder level and draw both knees in towards your chest
  2. Drop both knees over to one side.
  3. Turn your head to the opposite arm.
  4. Keep as much of the back connected to the floor as possible and take 10 deep breaths.
  5. Repeat on opposite side.

Side stretch

Most of us live the majority of our life walking, sitting, eating or driving. In other words, our bodies are basically moving and bending forwards and backwards, ignoring the muscles responsible for moving us in other ways. This commonly results in a deep aching in the lower back area.

Whether in a seated or standing position, side-bending lengthens out the fibres of these overlooked muscles and opens up the rib cage, giving you a feeling of ease within your body.

  1. Standing or sitting straight, lift one arm up by your head.
  2. Gently bend to the opposite side keeping your abdomen engaged.
  3. Stay for 30 seconds whilst breathing deeply to facilitate the stretch.
  4. Repeat as needed.

Back scratcher stretch

Another stretch to keep your shoulders limber, especially after some lengthy computer time, is the ‘back scratcher’ stretch. As one of the most complex and mobile joints in the body, the shoulder is vulnerable to injuries. Lack of mobility is often associated with risk of injury and hence the shoulder should not be overlooked in your stretching regime.

  1. Take one arm straight up by your ear and then bend at the elbow to reach the hand to the middle of the upper back.
  2. Take the other arm down by your side and bend the elbow to reach for the other hand behind your back.
  3. It can be difficult to reach when you’re starting out, so use a towel to grab on to with each hand so you can still get into the stretch. As you stretch the surrounding musculature of the shoulder you will be able to clasp the hands over time.
  4. Make sure you keep a neutral spine and look forward - the tendecy is to look down.

Butterfly groin stretch

Chronic tightness in this muscle group may lead to pelvic pain, lack of hip mobility and back pain. Again, our sedentary lifestyles make it easy for our pelvis to ‘freeze up’ or become immobile.

You can help alleviate this tightness with the butterfly groin stretch, which involves sitting with the soles of your feet together and knees out wide. You should feel the stretch in your inner thighs. This stretch may also be done lying down, but if done in seated, make sure you’re sitting up tall, a cushion may be used to prop the pelvis up to safely perform this stretch.

With each of these exercises, breathing deeply will enhance the stretch and provide your body and mind with an overall sense of relaxation. So, whether it’s between emails or while waiting in line at the shops, help your body survive and slip a stretch into your day.

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