Stretches to Balance Daily Tensions
Do you ever stretch and feel like you just pulled your whole life together? There’s no mistaking that our bodies need to be pushed and pulled in different directions sometimes in order to keep everything in balance.
Say you spend 8 hours a day sitting upright at a desk. Your front hip flexors are shortened, shoulders slouching forward, and neck and head drooping downward. Or maybe you spend your work day on your feet - your spine is stacked all day which can put pressure on your low back, only stopping to put your weight on one leg favoring right over the left or vice versa.
Needless to say, no matter what position in which you’re spending the majority of your days, we all deserve the opportunity to stretch, release tension and reset ourselves back to an even playing field.
Not all stretching is created equal. Here are the best stretches to incorporate into your day that will bring you balance, release and reset.
Crescent Moon (Low Lunge)
Never underestimate the power of a lunge. This movement is more commonly known to strengthen and tone the quads and glutes. When we focus on the stretch element we’re getting from Crescent Moon Pose, a whole new world of possibility awaits. Keeping your front knee stacked above your ankle and your back knee down on the ground provides some support while moving through this stretch. Reach your arms up to the sky, and allow the entire front of your quads and psoas (front hip flexor) to lengthen and open up. This pose alone will reverse all the sitting you’re doing when driving, working or relaxing by simply opening up the fronts of your hips and balancing out all the time these muscles are spent shortened.
Standing Forward Fold (Forward Bend)
Commonly and almost instinctively done before and after exercise, a Standing Forward Fold pose offers a juicy stretch to the hamstrings. What is lesser known about the hamstrings is that the tightness in them can directly impact our lower backs; the more we open them up, the more we can release tension in our backs. Keeping your big toes touching (or spacing them out about a foot apart if you run a little more stiff) and folding straight forward is all it takes. Adding a couple tweaks to this pose makes all the difference, such as making sure to release your neck all the way and let your head hang heavy to use gravity as a tool to go deeper. Grab onto your elbows with your hands or the back of your neck for the ultimate release in your low back.
Mountain Pose with Bind Variation
Heart openers can be uncomfortable because they require us to open up in a way that may not always feel natural. Starting in Mountain Pose by standing tall with your feet hip-width distance apart and your arms down by your sides with your palms facing forward, take your hands and interlace your fingers behind your back at your tailbone. Do your best to glue the heels of your hands together, and gently pull your hands downward to lift up your chest and open the fronts of your shoulders. Take this even deeper by gazing up, tilting your head backwards and creating a slight back bend. Many of us, whether we’re sitting or standing, tend to let our shoulders fall forward. Reversing this motion to balance out your day will improve tension levels in your shoulders and back and keep pain at bay.
Child’s Pose (Resting Pose)
End things on a good note with a solid Child’s Pose. From the ground in a kneeling position with your hips resting on your ankles, let your knees separate wider than your hips, big toes stay touching and walk your hands forward in front of you until your forehead can rest on the ground. The benefits of this pose are plentiful, but some good ones to note are the opening of the hips and groin, lengthening of the spine, opening of the inner arms and armpits, and rest for your forehead and browline. Allowing your shoulders to rest heavy on the ground and your forehead to roll side to side create space for rest and deep breathing.
Our bodies are our greatest homes and granting them opportunities to stay balanced and rested are paramount to staying in the best condition possible for as long as possible. Prioritizing maintenance of your body with stretching and breathing are simple tools that go an extremely long way.