Loosen up tight muscles with this easy routine
Whether it’s at a desk or on the couch, too much sitting can leave your body tense. That’s because sitting for extended periods of time shortens the connective tissues that link your muscles to your bones. The result? An achy back, stiff hips, and creaky knees.
Fortunately, stretching can loosen you up by lengthening those connective tissues, says Robert Forster, a physical therapist in Santa Monica, CA. “Stretching is something to do every day,” he says. It eases pain caused by tight muscles and helps you maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints. Walk in place for 5 minutes to warm up your muscles, then try this simple stretching routine.
How to Do It
Start with 10 deep breaths, and make sure to breathe slowly from your belly throughout the stretches. Hold each stretch 10 to 30 seconds, and do the whole routine 2 to 3 times. Stretch only as far as you comfortably can. For the floor portion of the routine, use a mat or towel if you wish.
1. Arm Stretch
Cross your right arm in front of your chest. Hold the back of your right arm with your left hand, and gently pull your right arm toward your chest. Keep your shoulders down and facing forward, and don’t pull too hard on your arm. Switch arms, crossing left arm in front.
2. Chest Stretch
Reach your arms behind your back. Hold your right wrist with your left hand, and gently pull your right arm down and to the left. Bring your chin to your chest, and look down toward your left shoulder. Keep your shoulders down and facing forward, and don’t pull too hard on your arm. Switch arms, holding left wrist with right hand.
3. Knee-to-Shoulder Stretch
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on floor, hip-width apart. Cross your right leg over your left leg, knee over knee. Place your right hand on your right knee and your left hand on your right shin. Gently pull your right knee toward your left shoulder. Keep your shoulders and back on floor. Switch legs, with left leg over right leg.
4. Thigh Stretch
Lie on your left side with your head resting on your left arm and your right hip toward ceiling. Bend your right leg behind you. Hold the top of your right foot with your right hand, and gently pull your heel toward your rear. You should feel a stretch in your right thigh, but don’t pull too hard. Switch sides, lying on your right side.
5. Back Stretch
Come to all fours with shoulders over wrists and knees hip-width apart. Arch the middle of your back up toward the ceiling, and gently let your head and neck hang down toward the floor. Keep your arms and thighs straight.
6. Forward Fold
From all fours, sit back on your heels as you reach your hands out in front of you.
Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.