After a hard workout or a long day at work our muscles can hold a lot of tension. Constantly tense muscles can lead to fatigue, headache, and even injury if left untreated. Stretching is especially important to do before and after every workout to avoid injury, but what about after a stressful day on the job? The following is a list of 8 full-body stretches that will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed. If you practice yoga, you may already be familiar with some of these techniques.
This stretch releases tension in the shoulders and neck.
- With your fingers interlaced, raise your arms overhead with upward facing palms.
- Your arms should stay aligned with the ears. Look straight ahead, relax the shoulder blades.
- As you exhale, make a conscious effort to release shrugged shoulders and let them fall down your back.
- Hold this stretch for 5 full breaths.
- Release your arms back down to your sides, roll your shoulders frontward and backward, and then repeat the whole stretch again.
Extended Shoulder Stretch
- Sitting or standing up straight, bring one arm across your chest.
- With the other hand, gently put pressure on your straightened arm pushing it further back, as if to help you scratch an itch on your back.
- Hold this for 3 to 5 breaths and do the other side.
- This is a great relaxation stretch if you sit at a computer all day.
- It’s also a good one if you have worked your shoulders and arms the day before.
- Raise your right arm and bend it so your hand falls behind your head.
- With your left hand, grab the right elbow and gently press downward.
- This stretch will feel several kinds of amazing after a hard triceps workout.
- Release the right elbow and repeat on the other side.
Back and Neck Stretch
- With feet hip distance apart, bend forward over your legs.
- If tight hamstrings prevent you from doing this, bend your knees slightly.
- Fold your arms and let your arms and head be pulled down with gravity.
- This is a very gentle stretch so do not force it. Let gravity do the work and relax into the stretch.
- Moving your head in a “yes” and “no” motion further relaxes your neck.
Hip Flexor and Glute Stretch
- Lay on the floor, on your back with your knees bent.
- Place your right foot on your left knee. Now with both hands, grab behind your left leg and gently pull.
- You’re pulling your right foot and left knee toward you.
- You will feel the stretch in your right glute and hip flexor.
- This simple stretch releases so much tension in your butt it will be a new favorite.
- If you are super tight, this stretch may take some practice but truly it is one of the best.
Downward Facing Dog
This is a yoga pose that stretches every muscle in the backs of your legs from your Achilles tendons, calves, and backs of the knees, hamstrings and glutes. This pose even stretches your spine as well as between your shoulder blades. This is one of the best stretches for full body relaxation.
- Bend at the waist and walk your hands out until your body makes an upside down “V” shape.
- Let your head fall and relax the shoulders and neck.
- As you keep your arms straight, press your hands into the floor, raise your sit bones and lower your heels.
- This is where you will get that wonderful stretch in the backs of your legs.
- Don’t force your heels down; with practice they will drop more and more easily.
To further open up tight hips, do a downward facing dog as described above.
- As you’re in the triangle shape, lift one leg up as high as you can, making a straight line from foot to hand on that side.
- Now on the raised leg, bend the knee and let the weight of your foot draw your hip muscles open even more.
- Repeat on both legs.
- From a downward facing dog again, this time step your right foot forward.
- Turn your foot in as you bend the knee, and sink to the floor.
- You’ll want your right leg bent and tucked under you, with your left leg straight out behind you on the floor.
- Now slowly lower your chest to your bent right leg.
- Your glutes and hips will feel amazing with this stretch.
- Only lower your chest as far down as you can, never force it.
- Over time you will be able to lay your chest on your bent leg!
- To come out, raise back up to downward dog and do the other leg.
Stretching is important. It increases blood flow to your muscle groups, increases flexibility and releases lactic acid buildup after workouts. Stretching before you work out warms the muscles up and prevents injury. Stretching after a workout gives your muscles permission to release and relax as well as increases your overall flexibility. Try to get up and stretch periodically throughout your work day also. This will reduce fatigue and give you a much needed mood boost. Happy stretching!