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Essential Stretches to Start Your Day
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Exercise and diet are the foundation of any healthy routine, but there’s often a vital component to wellness many of us forget: stretching! Start your day off right with these essential stretches. NECK STRETCHES Neck pain or tightness can lead to chronic headaches and even difficulty concentrating, but in just two moves, you can loosen the muscles in your neck. • Neck Pull: Start by raising your right hand above your head. While looking forward, bend your arm down toward your head and place it near your left ear. Then pull your head toward your right shoulder, placing minimal force on your head. Repeat as needed on both sides. • Neck Push: Sit cross-legged on the floor. Place one hand flat on the ground, as if you were pushing the ground away. While looking forward, tilt your head in the opposite direction of that arm. Hold the position for 20 seconds and switch sides, repeating as needed. LEG AND HIP STRETCHES A tight torso can be painful, no matter what your daily activities are. Taking a few moments each morning to loosen your muscles after waking up can combat chronic pain and stiffness.
• Hamstring Hang to Downward Dog: Start with your feet shoulder- width apart and bend forward until you’re folded in half. Grab your elbows and lightly swing side to side. After a few moments, lay your hands on the floor and walk your hands forward until your body is in a triangular shape. Stay there for a few seconds and pedal your feet for a deeper stretch. To end, either lower your knees down or walk your hands back to your feet and stand up. BACK STRETCHES Your spine carries you all day long. Give it the proper foundation to avoid pain throughout the day. Here are two exercises to get you started. • Cat/Cow: Start on your hands and knees. Inhale and arch your back upward (cat) and as you exhale, lower your spine below neutral and look upward (cow). Repeat as necessary. • Child’s Pose: After cat/cow, lower down onto your forearms and keep your neck neutral, staring down at the floor. Sit your butt down onto your ankles and breathe deeply for a few moments. As with any form of exercise or stretching, always consult with a professional before you begin. In fact, a physical therapist can help you develop a routine that targets your troublesome areas!
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