Stretch It Out

Below are a few recommended morning or evening stretches. They take less than 7 minutes to complete. Remember to stop when you feel pain, and modify as needed. Feel free to add more to your routine.

Upper Back Release
Targets the upper back and back of shoulders. Standing with feet hip-distance apart, clasp hands and round upper back keeping arms straight and active. Think about the shoulder blades spreading wide across your back. Hold stretch for 2-3 deep breaths.

Chest Releasedreamstime_s_32517098-2
Targets the chest, front of shoulders and biceps. Holding a wall, door frame or window ledge with left arm, step forward with left leg and turn entire body to the right especially at the hips.  Hold stretch for 4-6 deep breaths increasing stretch with the pivot at the hips.  Repeat on the other side.

Side Stretch
Targets the IT band (outer thigh), obliques and shoulders. Standing with right hand on bed or wall, cross left leg in front of right leg, feet pointing forward. Shift onto the left hip and reach left arm up and over head, creating a long line from the left ankle to the left fingertips.  Hold and take 2-3 deep inhales and exhales.  Repeat on right.

Seated Spinal Twist
Targets the spine, neck and shoulders. Sitting on a chair or edge of bed with legs together, lengthen spine and rotate from the waist, placing one hand behind you and the other hand on your outer thigh for support. For a deeper stretch for the neck, turn your gaze to look over your shoulder as well. Hold 2-3 deep breaths.  Repeat other side.

Standing Hamstring Stretch
Targets hamstrings. Supporting yourself for balance as needed, bring right leg up onto a step or bench, increasing height as flexibility increases.  Keep legs hip-distance and parallel and keep back leg straight (if possible) and front foot flexed.  If you need to increase stretch, hinge at the hips (not the waist or back), keeping the spine completely straight.  Don’t round the spine. Take 4-6 deep breaths. Repeat other side.

Standing Quad Stretch
Targets quadriceps. Holding a chair, wall or bed for support, stand with feet hip-distance apart. Soften left knee and reach for your right foot or ankle, bending the right knee to point straight down to the floor. Keep pelvis neutral and spine tall with the crown of your head reaching to the ceiling.  Hold for 4-6 deep breaths.  Repeat other side.

Outer Hip Stretch
Targets hips and outer thighs. Lift left leg, knee bent, onto bed. Square off hips and make sure front knee is outside of front shoulder. Keeping tailbone untucked and spine straight, bend forward at the hips, placing hands on the bed for support. Hold for 4-6 deep breaths then change sides.

Standing Forward Bend
Targets hamstrings and lower back. Standing with feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent, bend forward at the hips.  Allow your upper body to hang over your legs and clasp elbows. Hold for 2-3 deep breaths while you gently shake your head no and even more gently nod your head yes.   To come up, pull in abs and gently round up one vertebra at a time.


Bedtime Yoga

These stretches can also be done before bed to relax and release tension. Or, follow a bedtime yoga routine such as this one here: