We know that stretching after a workout can relieve soreness and stiffness(1), but it’s also important to keep your body stretched when you’re not working out!
Whether you’re cramped in an airplane seat all day or sitting in a cubicle, some simple stretches can make all the difference when it comes to promoting good circulation and keeping your body in great working order even when you’re sedentary.
Based in Pilates, these strength-promoting exercises will help you keep your body limber and ready to go.
1. The Reclined Twist
Lying on your back, draw your knees into your chest and spread out your arms in a T shape. Keep your shoulders flat on the ground and take a deep breath as you twist your hips and lower your knees to the side, stopping before they touch the ground. Hold this pose briefly and then bring your legs back into the starting position, exhaling as you do so.
This stretch is designed to release tension in your lower back after an extended period of time spent sitting down.
2. The Single Leg Stretch
Begin this stretch by lying flat on your back with your knees drawn up towards your chest. Slowly extend your left leg until it hovers just above the ground, then bring your right leg up towards the ceiling. Lift your arms and grab the back of your lower right leg, drawing your chin towards your chest and lifting your shoulders off the ground. Hold this pose for a count of two, then switch legs and repeat this activity for two minutes.
This stretch is designed to lengthen your hamstrings and help prevent tightness in your legs.
3. The Corkscrew
Lying flat on your back, lift both your legs until they are pointing straight up at the ceiling, then rotate your toes open and, keeping your heels together, flex your feet outwards. Breathe in deeply and slowly drop your legs to the right as you inhale, then lift them up again and drop them to your left as you exhale.
This stretch is designed to protect your lower back and strengthen your core muscles so that sitting for extended periods of time doesn’t cause as much strain on your body.
4. The Saw
Sit on the floor with your legs spread about two feet apart and flex your feet, then shimmy your hips backwards to help stretch your legs and lengthen your spine. Inhaling deeply, spread your arms out to form a T shape and exhale, twisting to the right so that your left hand reaches across your right foot. Inhale as you twist back to the centre, exhaling as you repeat the stretch in the opposite direction.
This stretch is designed to lengthen your neck muscles and loosen up your back muscles after being stuck in one position for an extended period of time.
5. The Plank Leg Lift
Position yourself into a plank. Support your weight with your arms and draw your belly button up, bringing it into alignment with your spine. Hold this position for one minute while squeezing your quads, then release. Come slowly back into your starting position, then lift your right leg straight back, until your food is at hip height. Hold this for about 30 seconds, then switch legs.
This stretch is designed to tone your muscles and help you regain your balance.
The Importance Of Stretching
Not only is stretching vital in preventing sports and activity-related injuries(2), it’s also important in your day to day life.
If you’re recovering from an injury, studies have shown that frequent stretching can help improve your rehabilitation time(3); especially when it comes to hamstring injuries and other strain- related injuries.
Stretching regularly can also prevent connective tissue accumulation in muscle(4), helping you stay mobile and active even when you’re spending plenty of time in a stationary position.