Happy Friday, Everyone! Today’s Fitness Friday post is a quick stretching routine you can do every day in under three minutes. It consists of three stretches that will help correct the postural deficiencies that result from sitting at a desk for hours every day. Remember that it’s never a good idea to stretch a cold muscle, so don’t do these stretches first thing in the morning or after you’ve been sitting idly for a long time. Any normal activity should sufficiently warm the muscles up for these gentle stretches, so doing them after you’ve showered and dressed for the day or following any light activity is fine. Here’s the sequence:
Doorway Reach and Lunge
Stand in an open doorway and reach one arm overhead, grasping the top of the doorway. Take a step forward with the opposite leg, bending the knee of the forward leg and keeping the knee of the rear leg straight. This should gently stretch the hip flexors (front of the pelvis area) of the rear leg while also gently stretching the muscles surrounding the shoulder of the raised arm. Hold this position for about 15 seconds, then switch sides. If you’re fairly flexible in the shoulder and have never had a shoulder injury, you can intensify the stretch there by inching slightly forward so that your hand is a few inches behind your shoulder. You can also move your hand laterally along the door jamb to stretch different areas of the shoulder joint. To gently intensify the stretch in your hip flexor, lean your body slightly sideways in the direction of the forward (bent) leg. You should feel a slight stretch along the rib cage of the raised arm as you do this.
Take a Bow
This stretch is a little awkward to learn, but it’s so effective once you get it. Cross one leg in front of the other, bending the front knee slightly and keeping the back leg straight. Now lean in the direction of the bent leg, sliding your hand down as far as you can comfortably reach. Reach toward the ceiling with your other arm, opening your chest nice and wide. You should also be slightly hinged forward at the hips as you do this. You’ll feel a great stretch all along the ribcage and down the entire length of the hip and outer thigh of the straight (rear) leg. If balance is an issue, do the modified pose shown below by touching or grasping the door jamb. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds, then switch sides.
Easy Volcano Pose
This final stretch really helps to counteract the caved chest and rounded shoulders we get from slouching when we sit. Move out of the doorway and clasp your fingers behind your back with arms relaxed and straight down behind you. As you take a deep breath in, slowly straighten your elbows and raise your arms as far back and up as feels comfortable. You should not feel any pain in your shoulders at all. Try to gently arch your back in a long, constant curve from your lumbar spine up to your neck, tilting your head slightly back to look up and forward. Pay attention to your lower back. Make it long and don’t let your lumbar vertebrae collapse in – this will happen if you let your pelvis dip too far forward. Instead, keep your hips square and positioned directly above your heels. If you can’t clasp your hands together behind you, simply extend your arms straight back, as pictured below. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.