Whether working from home or at a worksite, often during our work hours we are doing our bodies a disservice. For many, like myself, I spend most of my day in front of a computer. This can lead to a very sedentary day with little opportunity for movement. For my husband, who has a very physically-active career, it is quite the opposite. Many times, he comes home sore, tired, and with 20,000 steps accounted for already. For each of us, it is important that we intentionally work in stretches throughout the day. For me, stretches get me up and moving so that I am not in one position for hours. For him, it stretches muscles that are often overworked and get tired and tense easily. It also helps him to focus on moving through his day with good form and relaxed muscles.
I have challenged myself and my husband to take a small break every hour and do a set of stretches. This could take as little as 1 minute per hour to complete and the difference in how we feel is remarkable! So if you’re like me and your FitBit reminds you every hour to move, move! Get those steps! But also, intentionally take a few more minutes to do a set of these stretches.
- Stretch your arms up, grab your right wrist with your left hand, stretch your arm over and back (opening up your chest and right side body). Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
- Princess pose. Okay, my husband doesn’t call it “princess pose” but that is what one of my softball coaches called it growing up, so it will always be “princess pose” in my book. While standing, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Bend your left knee and send your hips back (like you’re trying to sit in a chair behind you). You can bend forward at your waist if that is available to you. You can also hold on to a chair, desk, or wall in front of you. Hold the pose, then switch to the other side. If your ankle isn’t meeting your knee that day, that is okay! Cross your right ankle over your left leg, wherever that might be, send your right knee out to the right and back (opening your hips), and bend your left knee as you are able. You can also do this seated.
- Chest opener: Put your arms out to the side, palms facing up. Roll your shoulders back and down. Stretch your arms back as if someone is pulling your thumbs backward. You can arch your back slightly if that feels good. You can also tilt your head back, bringing your chest forward for a bit of a deeper stretch.
- Forward fold. With your feet slightly apart, bend at your waist and try to touch your toes. Relax your head and shoulders letting them dangle down. Shake your head “yes” and “no” if that helps loosen you up. When you’re ready, slowly roll up.
- The twist. While standing, bend forward hinging at your hips (just as you would in forward fold). Reach your right arm over to your left leg/ankle/foot. Send your left arm up to the sky and palm facing towards your left. Keep reaching your left arm up, up, up! Feel a good twist. Switch and repeat on the other side.
- Eagle arms. This one is harder but worth it! Put your arms straight out in front of you, palms facing each other. Twist so that your right elbow crosses over your left elbow. While keeping your elbows crossed, bend your elbows towards your face at a 90-degree angle. Bring the backs of your palms together so they touch ( or get as close as you can). If you’re feeling flexible, cross your left hand over your right wrist (close to your face) so that your palms touch. Repeat on the other side with your left elbow on top this time.
- ABCs. Take a balance break or do this seated. Draw the alphabet with your big toe. All the way from A-Z. This seems silly but is critical for ankle mobility. Ankle mobility plays a bigger role in overall mobility than you would think!
- Give yourself a hug! You deserve it. So really, give yourself a hug. Reach your hands as far behind you as is comfortable when you give yourself this hug. Hold for a few seconds. Raise your elbows up to the sky for a deeper stretch. Notice which elbow is on top. Now switch and give yourself a second hug with the other elbow on top.
Give yourself 8 minutes a day to get your body better aligned and moving at its best!
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