Stealthily Sneak Stretching Into Your Day
Every activity program should include the three pillars of fitness: cardiovascular fitness, strength, and mobility.
Many of us — myself included — prioritize the cardiovascular and/or strength pillars. I prioritize running — mostly because it makes me feel like a million bucks — and too often I sacrifice stretching, mobility, and foam rolling. Recently I decided that pattern has to be rectified.
My solution? Stealthily sneaking mobility and stretching into my day.
Now, that doesn’t mean I am “giving up” on stretching and rolling after workouts. What it means is that I am “doing me” while recognizing my shortcomings and finding solutions. Stretching will never be my exercise “bliss.” Thus, making a goal of stretching and rolling for an extended time post-workout is unrealistic. Instead, I found an alternate solution: I pepper exercises into my day which ensures I stretch and roll, but respects my realities. (As my mother always said, “Find solutions, not excuses.”)
If you also shortchange your stretching, try stealthily sneaking stretching, rolling, and mobility exercises into your daily life!
In front of the TV
Foam roller soldier arms: Lie lengthwise on a roller. Extend your right arm backwards to beside your ear and gently rotate your head left. Switch and repeat with your left arm and right rotation. Alternate for 10 repsSeated twist: Sit tall on the sofa. Reach your left hand across your body so it sits on the outside of your right knee. Use your left hand to pull GENTLY on your right knee so you rotate to the right. Hold for 15 seconds and then switch sides.
Upper back massage with a tennis ball: Stand with your upper back against the ball and the ball against a wall. Press your body into the ball so you feel a gentle massage. Move your body up and down so that the ball massages your entire back. When you feel a tender spot, hold and breathe into it for 10 seconds. Enjoy!
Stretch before you get out of bed
Single-leg knee hug: On your back with your knees bent and feet on the bed, bring one knee into your chest. Breathe. Hold the knee in as you straighten the opposite leg. Breathe. Bend your knees and repeat on the opposite side. Alternate for roughly 90 seconds.
Knee rock: On your back, with knees bent and feet on the bed, gently rock both knees from one side to the other. Make the motion small to start. Increase the range slightly as your body loosens. To increase the stretch, rotate your head in the opposite direction to your knees.
Hip stretch: Lie on your right side. Bend your right leg for support. Hug your left knee into your chest for five seconds. Grab your left ankle behind you. Hold as you push your top hip forward and pull your left heel toward your bum. Engage your core slightly; don't arch your lower back. Concentrate on opening up your front hip by pushing your pelvis forward rather than getting the foot to your bum.
Spine twist: Stay on your right side with your left hand at your temple. Keeping your pelvis stable, rotate your chest slightly backward. Think about your spine moving, not your elbow. Repeat both on the other side.
Hamstring stretch: Have a towel, belt, or strap beside the bed. Lie on your back with your left leg bent. Loop the towel around your right foot. Straighten your right leg. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
Tick tock: Keep the strap around your right foot. Keep your pelvis stable as you bring your right leg slightly back and forth horizontally across your body.
Do both exercises on the left leg.
At the office
Door frame chest stretch: Place the forearm of one arm on the edge of a door frame at roughly chest height. Your arm should be bent at a 90̊ angle. Turn your body gently away from the arm so you feel a slight stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch and repeat on the opposite arm.
Wall Y to Ws: Stand with your bum and back against a wall. Core engaged, legs shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and feet roughly half a foot in front of the wall. Your lower back should be neutral, which means you should be able to fit your fingers, but not your entire hand, between your lower spine and the wall.
Form a W with your arms against the wall. Keep your arms as close to the wall as you can as you straighten them until they form a Y with your body. Make sure your spine stays neutral. It shouldn't arch as you move your arms, even if that means the back of your hands move away from the wall. Return your arms back to the W position and repeat five to 10 times.
If you’re stiff, instead of being frustrated and disheartened by aches and pains, think of kinesthetic feelings as "information" — motivational "feed-forward" commentary from your body instructing you on how best to move and behave. Being stiff is your body telling you that you need to move more, sit less, and stretch daily. So listen.