5 Easy, Relaxing Stretches for Stress Relief: Who isn’t feeling more stressed than usual these days? If you want to feel better quickly, all you have to do is stretch! Stretching is a relaxing way to unwind and can also help keep your joints and muscles from getting sore as you get older.
“People don’t stretch enough, but it’s so easy to do,” says Carol Ewing Garber, Ph.D., a professor of movement studies at Teachers College, Columbia University.
5 Easy, Relaxing Stretches for Stress Relief
You don’t have to be in shape or use special gear, and you don’t have to do much to get rewards. When you stretch, you slow down and pay attention to the present moment. It’s like a form of awareness meditation.
Why does stretching help fight stress?
Don’t make it too hard, though! During the stretch, just take deep breaths in and out. Tavel says, “You don’t have to let out air until you get rid of every last drop.” “Allow your lungs to empty on their own.”
The more important thing is to find a way to breathe that feels good to you. If counting helps, you can do that. For example, count to four as you breathe in and out. But you don’t have to. According to Tavel, if you think too much about how you’re breathing, it might stop you from relaxing.
You can relax with any stretch as long as you breathe deeply in and out. According to Tavel, the stretches below are a good practice because they are natural poses that make you feel good and let you forget about the world for a while.
Stretching for relaxation doesn’t have to be a huge commitment.
Garber says that you should stretch at least a few times a week, but it’s best to do it every day. To get the most out of each stretch, hold it for 20 to 30 seconds, or until it feels tight. Stop when it starts to hurt. When we get older, most of us lose our flexibility. If this sounds like you, hold times of up to 60 seconds may help.
Do each move a few times. If you stretch all the major muscle and tendon groups, like the shoulders, chest, neck, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, and feet, it should take you about 10 minutes.
Should you stretch at a certain time of day?
Your range of motion will be better if you warm up your muscles first with exercise, a short walk, or a warm bath or shower. It doesn’t matter when you practice. It’s good for you at any time, though.
Tavel says that stretching first thing in the morning can help you have better balance, mobility, and movement all day. A great way to get out of a posture “slump” in the middle of the day is to stretch.
Also, stretching in the evening can help you relax, find places where worry has built up, and let go of it. You can also stretch here and there during the day, like while you’re waiting for your toast, watching TV, or taking a shower. It all matters!
Here are five moves from Tavel’s book Stretch Yourself Healthy that you can do right away. Tavel says that these easy poses can help you relax at any time of the day. “Don’t force them or push them. Let the weight of the body fall on you, and don’t forget to breathe naturally and rhythmically.
Double Knee to Chest Stretch
This move will loosen up your hips and lower back.
- Lay on your back with your arms at your sides and legs bent. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
- Slowly bring both knees up to your chest with your hands behind your legs or just below your kneecaps. Just hold this for 20 to 30 seconds.
- To rub your lower back, move your hips from side to side. Do this stretch three or four times.
The low back, arms, and shoulders feel better after this stretch.
- You should start on your knees and hands, with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
- Put your hands down on the floor and stretch your arms out in front of you. Slowly move your feet back toward your hips. Lower your head and chest while extending your arms out in front of you.
- Keep it in place for twenty to thirty seconds.
Lower Trunk Rotation
This motion stretches the lower back and hips and opens up and turns the spine.
- Put your hands by your sides or out to the sides in the shape of a “T” and bend your knees. This will help you stay stable.
- Keep your upper back and shoulders on the floor as you slowly move your knees to the right side. Do this until you feel a gentle twist and stretch in your lower back. As you read this, try to keep your knees together.
- Pick up your knees and let them fall to the left after a few seconds. Keep your knees together and your shoulder blades down. Rock slowly from side to side, stopping every few seconds to stretch on each side.
- Do this five times on each side.
Lying-Down Pec Stretch
This move loosens up the pec muscles and makes the spine longer, which helps keep the shoulders and back in the right place.
- As you lie on the mat, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. Place a foam roller so that the back of your head lines up with the bottom of your spine.
- Put your hands together in front of your chest. Slowly spread your arms out to the side in the shape of a “T.” Let your hands fall to the ground. (Let gravity and deep breathing help you stretch more.)
- Hold for three seconds, and then do it three more times.
This move stretches the back from the neck to the hips.
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your back straight. As you breathe in, drop your belly button toward the floor and arch your back. Look up at the sky and hold.
- Lower your head and shoulders, and round your back up toward the sky like a mad cat. Let out a breath.
- Move slowly and gently back and forth between these two positions 5 to 8 times.
Stretching for just a few minutes a day can help loosen up stiff joints, get rid of long-term stress, sleep better, and feel more energized! Getting everything you need to start stretching regularly will help you reach your health goals.
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