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5 daily stretches to keep you moving


28th June 2020


As the years pass, do you notice new aches and pains when you crawl out of bed in the morning? You’re not alone. Feeling stiff and sore becomes more common as you get older.

 

The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to alleviate these uncomfortable feelings. You don’t need to spend two hours a day in a pilates studio (although, wouldn’t that be nice). Rather, by spending 15 to 20 minutes each morning literally limbering up, you’ll bounce through each day feeling much better.

 

First, get to know your body

 

Every body is unique. Some people have stiff backs; other people hobble out of bed with sore calves or hamstrings. Others still – perhaps by stint of sitting at a computer all day – have a pain in the neck.

 

If your aches and pains are getting in the way of daily life, the first thing you should do is see a doctor or physiotherapist. They will be able to identify if there are any underlying issues that can be treated to eliminate the problem. They may also give you some specific stretches and exercises to strengthen and lengthen the muscles in the affected area.

 

But if your aches and pains feel more like general stiffness, then a morning stretching routine could work wonders.

 

Then, start stretching

 

Grab yourself a yoga mat or a spare stretch of carpet, take a few restorative breaths, and give these wonderful stretches a go.

 

Child’s pose

 

A classic yoga pose, this is a gentle stretch to loosen up your hips, pelvis, spine and thighs. And the best bit? It’s oh-so-relaxing. Here’s how to do it:

 

  1. Kneel on the floor, toes together and knees about hip-width apart
  2. Sit back so that your bottom rests on your heels
  3. Lean your torso right forward so that your forehead touches the mat
  4. Stretch your arms out in front or back alongside your legs, whatever is comfortable for you
  5. Take five deep breaths in this position

Cat and cow

 

This stretch will loosen up your spine and wake yourself up for the day. Here’s how:

 

  1. Start on all fours – that is, on your hands and knees (place your hands directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips)
  2. As you breathe in, move into ‘cow’ – that is, arch your back and raise your head
  3. As you breathe out, move into ‘cat’ – that is, round your back and lower your head
  4. Repeat this cycle for five breaths

Spinal twist

 

Keep the focus on your back for one more stretch, the spinal twist. Here’s how to do it:

 

  1. Lie on your back with your arms out wide
  2. Bend your left leg at the knee (foot on floor), and then let the bent knee gently fall over the right leg
  3. Place your right hand on your left knee to gently pull it towards the floor, and turn your head towards the left
  4. Take five deep breaths in this position
  5. Repeat on the other side

The hurdler

 

Now it’s time to give your legs some love. The hurdler focuses on your hamstrings, with a gentle stretch that can be done sitting down. Here’s how:

 

  1. Sit with both legs stretched out in front of you
  2. Bend the left leg, bringing the left foot to the inside of your right knee, and letting the left knee drop to the side
  3. Keeping your hips square, lean forward and reach with both hands towards your right ankle
  4. Take five deep breaths in this position
  5. Repeat on the other side

Shoulder stretch

 

Finally, sitting back on your knees (or, you can do this one standing up), enjoy this shoulder stretch to open up your chest and get you ready for the day:

 

  1. Reach your arms behind your back and interlace your hands
  2. With straight arms, slowly lift your hands behind your back
  3. As you lift, squeeze your shoulder blades together
  4. Take five deep breaths in this position

Remember, listen to your body

 

You know your body better than anyone. If the stretches above feel uncomfortable – or perhaps not challenging enough – then it may be time to call in the experts.

 

Meantime, happy stretching and may the flexible force be with you.

 


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