Disclaimer – I am not a yoga instructor and I made up some of these names. These are my favorite poses that feel good and work well for my body. You might need a modification or progression for any of the stretches listed. Take your time and listen to your body. You can try a different version of any stretch at any time. No matter how flexible you are, sometimes it’s just nice to do a gentle stretch and sometimes you’ll want to stretch a little deeper.
There are 2 types of stretches – static (holding the stretch) and dynamic (moving through the stretch) and they both have their place in your daily routines and training programs. Static stretches are best for warm muscles and dynamic stretches are best to help the muscles warm up. Overly tight or sore muscles usually respond better to dynamic stretches that increase blood flow and feel better than holding the stretch through pain. On that note, never stretch through pain – “feeling it” is one thing but wincing in pain isn’t necessary and can cause injury. Static stretches can be held for up to 1 minute each. Dynamic stretches can be performed for as little as 30 seconds each.
The following stretches are a mix of both types and therefore can be done throughout your day.
For example, you might flow through cat cow in the morning but hold the hamstring stretch after a run. Or, you might move side to side on the tabletop side bend in the mornings when you wake up stiff, but hold that same stretch after you lift in the evenings.
I like to stretch for 5 minutes in the morning when I wake up, midday after being at the computer for a few hours, before and after every workout and again, for 5 minutes before bed.
No matter what, always listen to your body.
(Shown in the order above)
Name – Cat Cow
It stretches – the spine, torso, neck and abdominals
How to – Flow gently between the stretches, exhaling on the cat (arched back) and inhaling on the cow (belly dropped)
Name – Seated hamstrings stretch
It stretches – the hamstrings 🙂
How to – You can deepen this stretch by squeezing your thigh muscle as your reach for your foot
Keep your back as straight as possible – lead with your chest
Name – Low lunge with spine twist
It stretches – the hip flexors and spine
You can raise your arm straight over head
Name – Lying leg crossover stretch
It stretches – the hips, outer thighs and glutes
How to – Cross one leg over the other and grab your ankles/feet
Pull your feet/ankles close to your body (grabbing your ankles provides a deeper hip and outer thigh stretch)
Name – Seated cat cow pose
How to – Keep your arms straight as you gently flow through these stretches
Name – Seated torso twist
It stretches – the torso and low back
How to – Cross one leg over the other and twist your torso opposite of that foot
Name – Tabletop side twist
It stretches – the obliques and hips
How to – Start in tabletop position and shift your upper body so you’re looking over your shoulder
*Remember to do both sides for the right and left side stretches
Share this article with a girlfriend who needs to loosen up!