Stretching is a great low-impact exercise you can do virtually anywhere, with no need for costly gym equipment. A regular stretching routine can improve your flexibility and posture, while working to alleviate daily aches and pains. And then there’s the added mental benefit—the meditative quality of stretching can reduce stress and help you start your day on a more peaceful, calming note.
Back in November, we shared the five stretches you should do every day to keep your body strong and limber, especially during the cold winter months. Hundreds of you read that post, and hopefully you’ve been working those stretches into your daily routine.
If you want to continue to challenge yourself, we have five more stretches you should try in your quest to stay fit and active.
Lie flat on your back, making sure your abdominal muscles are drawn in and your lower back is pressed firmly to the floor. Slowly, bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground, bringing both of your knees as close to your chest as you can. Encircle or “hug” your knees with your arms until you feel a stretch in your upper, middle and lower back muscles.
Finally, lift your head off the ground and bring it toward your knees, tucking your chin. Hold this for at least 20 seconds and repeat up to five times.
Once you finish your knee huggers, you can easily transition into a hamstring stretch. Lie flat on your back and lift one leg straight up into the air. Wrap your hands around the calf of your raised leg and bring it as close to your chest and face as you can. You should feel a stretch along the backside of your leg.
Hold, and then repeat with the other leg.
Butterfly Groin Stretch
This stretch works your inner thighs and groin – two areas often neglected in a daily stretching routine. Sit down with your legs in front of you and your back straight. Bring the bottoms of your feet together in front of you so they are touching, allowing your knees to bow out to the side like butterfly wings.
Hold your ankles and lean forward so your forearms rest lightly on your knees. Press down on your knees until you feel a gentle stretch, but be careful not to force your knees to the floor. Hold and repeat. Confused? Check out this video for a quick tutorial.
This stretch is simple enough that you can do it while standing in line at the grocery store or in your kitchen while making breakfast. Simple stand up straight and take a step backwards with one leg, then press the heel of your back leg to the floor. Hold, and then repeat with the other leg. If you have something stable to hold onto, such as your kitchen counter, you can also do this stretch by raising both toes off the floor, shifting your weight to your calves, and repeating 5-10 times.
Tricep Reach Stretch
This stretch can be performed while standing up straight or sitting cross-legged on the floor with a straight back. Bring one arm over your head and reach down your back, so your elbow is pointed at the ceiling. Grab your elbow with your other arm and apply gentle pressure until you feel a stretch along the back of your arm. Hold, and then repeat with the other arm.
You can find a video tutorial for this stretch here.
For more tips on getting fit and active in 2015, download our free guide here.