Life's day-to-day can involve a lot of sitting. Is it time to stretch the scope?
These simple exercises are beneficial as a gentle way to support and ease out various muscle groups. They take just five to 10 minutes and are a wonderful way to stretch out the body and start the day feeling refreshed. You can do them all, or select a couple of exercises and repeat during the day.
- Lying on your back, gently draw your knees towards the chest, ankles crossed, with knees opened out either side of the chest and hands resting on top of the knees. Ease your knees towards you, either side of the chest, leaning towards the right side. Your buttocks will lift slightly off the floor. Breathe out as you do this. Ease your buttocks back to the floor and repeat the motion, this time leaning towards the left, breathing out as you do so. This is a gentle swaying/rocking motion. It’s a safe way to stretch out the hips and lower back.
- Stand with your feet apart, in parallel, slightly wider than the hip line. Place your hands on your thighs, bend the knees and ease the spine forward to a 90-degree angle. As you breathe out, arch your back so your head is facing the wall in front. Keeping the knees bent, round your back and breathe in. Repeat this sequence two more times. Then turn out your feet to roughly a 45-degree angle from the parallel position, bend your knees with your hands resting on the thighs, and breathe out. This will allow the back to ease out further (by arching and rounding) and ease out the pelvis, gluteal muscles, inner thighs and hamstrings.
- Sitting on the floor, extend your legs straight out in front of you, with your hands resting on the floor behind you, palms down. Have the heels as wide apart as possible with the big toes touching. Keeping the heels on the floor, lift your toes and ease the feet round in a circular motion and back to touch the toes together, exhaling as you go. Repeat three times, then reverse the circular motion. This stretch will ease out the feet, Achilles, calves, knees and hip area, and aid circulation in the lower legs.
- Stand in a lunge position, with your right knee bent, right foot on the floor and your left leg extended behind you, the left knee resting on the floor or on a cushion. Rest your hands on the floor, either side of the right leg, with your chest as upright as possible, and breathe out. Then place your right forearm on the right thigh, with the left hand on the floor. Imagine someone is pushing down on your left buttock. Keep your chest lifted and breathe out. Repeat with the other leg. This will ease out the thighs and hip flexors.
- Sitting on a chair with your back straight, slowly ease your head downwards and breathe out. Bring your head back to an upright position. Then turn your head to the right and breathe out, then bring the head back to the centre. Repeat to the left side. Then repeat the sequence. Gently lift your right shoulder. Bring it forward, lift it up and ease it back. Breathe out as you do so. Repeat two or three times. Then reverse the motion (back, up and forwards) and repeat the whole sequence with the left shoulder. This will ease out the neck area and shoulders.
REGULAR STRETCHING CAN:
- Increase mobility and range of movement
- Reduce muscular tension
- Enhance muscular coordination
- Improve posture and balance
- Reduce stress
- Improve energy levels
- Stabilise joints
- Increase circulation
- Increase pace and agility
- Alleviate lower back pain
- Prevent arterial stiffness
- Reduce the risk of injury
- Reduce recovery time from an injury
As with all physical activities, do not attempt these stretches if you have any medical conditions that may be aggravated. If in doubt, talk to your GP.
Illustration by Sarah Thielker