Stretching is so crucial for anyone participating in regular exercise. I know for me personally, I spend at least 15-20 minutes per day stretching. With holiday travel coming up (and I’ll be sitting in a car multiple times for 6+ hours), it’s so easy to add these into your regiment. It is also such a game changer to practice these on the regular anyway. My rule of thumb is if I’m getting on a plane or into a car, I will do these at the airport in a corner OR at home before I get into the car. Every time I get out of the car for a pit stop, I will do them again (excluding the ground ones). If I can get up on the plane – for longer flights – I will also do them in the back of the cabin. If a flight attendant looks at you funny – just simply say “I have a tight back so I need to stretch.” They won’t think anything of it trust me! I’ve struggled with back issues for years so this has really helped when I travel. I used to get off of airplanes or out of cars and be in so much pain. It’s because my posture was terrible when I was sitting and then tack onto that being in that same position for a long period of time. It lead me to a world of hurt when I did actually stand up and get off the plane or out of the car.
These are some of my favorites for a well rounded full body stretch. For a lot of them I am fully on the ground, but there are standing modifications where you can just lean against something OR put your hand on a wall and sink into that position without fully being on the floor. Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds or longer if it feels good.
Hamstring – from the lunge take it into a hamstring stretch. Back knee on the ground and lean your body over that front leg as much as possible until you feel a stretch. Goal is to get your head as close to your knee as possible for full stretch. My hamstrings are usually very tight so I can’t go down that far and THAT’S OK! Only go as far as you can until you feel that stretch NOT until it hurts.
Down Dog Pedal – Now you can pedal your feet for a deeper calf stretch. Hold each pedal for 15-20 seconds or do a continuous pedal. You should feel it in your calves. Again, breathe into this stretch. The more you breathe in any stretch, the easier it will be to access that stretch further.
Pigeon – This one is a bit harder to access. Use your arms for assistance. You should pull your right leg through from down dog positioning your right butt cheek on the floor. Your right foot should then be positioned as close to in front of your left hip as possible. You should feel a stretch in your glute (aka butt). You may also feel it in your inner thigh/groin area or opposite hip as your leading leg and that is OK. All of these are areas that pigeon stretch accesses. Pigeon Deeper – If you can easily do pigeon in the up position with your arms supporting – drop down to your elbows. For a deeper stretch, you can extend your arms all the way out in front of you and let your head drop to the ground.
Standing Hamstring – Start in standing position and fold over your legs. Try to touch your hands to your toes or as far as you can go until you feel a stretch. If accessible, grab the backs of your ankles and let your head hang. If not, just keep reaching as far as you can until you feel a stretch. Try to relax the neck. If comfortable, you can bend your left knee, then right knee and pedal your feet a few times.
Chest Opener- Start in a standing position and clasp your hands behind you. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale pull your arms up from the small of your back to directly behind you. Pull back as much as you can until you feel that chest open. For advanced, you can combine hamstring stretch with the chest opener and bend all the way over with your hands clasped for deeper access.
Shoulder Stretch – Reach one arm across body and use the other arm to initiate stretch. You can gently wrap that other arm around your wrist or forearm to feel your shoulder stretch. Try to keep the arm being stretched at chest level and not much lower or higher. Chest level is where you will feel the greatest stretch in that particular area.
Supine Twist- Lay on your back and bring your right knee into your chest with the left leg extended on the floor. Take your right arm and extend it straight out with your palm flat on the ground. Take your left hand and place it on the outside of your right knee. Drop the right knee over the left side of your body using your hand to pull ever so slightly until you feel the stretch. Turn your head to the right and gently keep your left hand rested on the right knee.
Groin/Butterfly- Laying on your back, pull both knees to your chest. Let them fall out to the sides like a butterfly stretch. Use your hands on the inside of your knees to push down lightly for a deeper stretch. If you already feel the stretch when you allow the knees to drop, stay there and breathe. Do not put any pressure on the insides of your knees.
So there you have it! These are some of my favorites to really feel open in those areas that can tighten up quickly. Try to practice these daily or add a few into your routine to start. Don’t forget to do one side if you did the other. You always want to make sure to even yourself out. If you tried these or love these, I want to hear! You can tag me on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK. If you haven’t had the chance to check out my new Kick-Ass Treadmill Training Guide, click HERE!