Let’s face it: almost all of us put a ton of stress on our bodies. Between sitting at a desk all day, squeezing in a workout class and many of the other activities and chores we complete on an everyday basis, our muscles and joints put up with a lot to keep us on the go. And while we feel nothing but grateful to be able to have a body that can help us do all these things, once in a while we start to really feel it.
Luckily, a few simple stretches can easily (and quickly) relieve some undesirable tension from our bodies. Try incorporating these into your daily routine or simply keep them on hand for next time you feel particularly achy. Our favorites are below:
In your back
1. Knees into Chest: Lay on your back. Pull your knees into your chest until you are curled up like a ball. Feel free to rock back and forth to release extra tension in your lower back.
2. Child’s Pose: Position yourself on your hands and knees, then slowly push your hips back until you are sitting on your heels. Keep about a bit of space between your knees, about two fists worth. Stretch your hands out in front of you and lay your head down.
In your neck and shoulders
3. Seated Neck Stretch: Sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair. Place one hand on the top of your head and slowly pull in the opposite direction, tilting your head. Repeat on the other side.
4. Heart Opener Stretch: Sit on the backs of your heels. Place your hands on the floor behind you, then slowly bend your head, neck and shoulders backward to feel the stretch.
In your hands and wrists
5. Wrist Stretch: Hold your arm out in front of you and bend your hand and fingers down, gently applying pressure with your opposite hand. Repeat on the other side.
6. Prayer Stretch: With your arms by your sides, slowly place the palms of your hands together and bend your elbows in a prayer position. Gently push your hands down in front of you until you feel the stretch.
In your legs
7. Forward Fold: Stand up and bend at the waist, reaching your fingers to the floor, your toes or your ankles. Try bending one knee at a time to deepen the stretch. If this is too tough on your hamstrings, sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you instead.
8. Half Split: Position yourself on your hands and knees, then slowly straighten one leg at a time out in front of you. Bend at the waist and reach out towards your foot or leg.
In your hips
9. Figure Four Stretch: Lay on your back and grab your hands behind your knees. While keeping one leg on the ground, slowly cross the other ankle over it making a figure 4 shape. You can stay here, or pull your arms behind your standing leg to deepen the stretch.
10. Supta Baddha Konasana: In this yoga pose, lay on your back and bend your knees. Pull your feet towards each other until they are touching, opening your hips. Place your hands on your stomach or stretched behind you.