Stretching is key to muscle elongation and injury prevention, but it also just feels amazing to lengthen your body before you hit the hay. We asked Julie Schechter, founder of fitBallet, to show us 5 stretches we can all do to help our bodies and minds wind down at the end of the day.
1. Ragdoll: With a micro-bend in your knees, bend at the hips and let your upper body completely release. Shake your head from side to side, releasing any extra tension you might be carrying in your neck. To increase the stretch, you can grab onto your elbows with the opposite hands.
2. Stacked Glute Stretch: Sit in a butterfly position on the floor, and then stack one leg on top of the other. With a straight spine, walk your fingertips ahead of you on the floor until you can't go any farther. Hold at this edge for a few deep breaths. On the final exhale, round your back and let your head drop forward. Sit in this deeper stretch for another few breaths, and then switch legs.
3. Spinal Twist: Lie on the floor with your right knee pulled into your chest. Push your right knee over to the left, and twist your upper body to the right. Be sure to keep your right shoulder rooted into the ground. Imagine your torso as a washcloth, being wrung out a little further with each breath.
4. Side Stretch: We do so little lateral movement, since we're constantly hunched over our computer screens, that it's nice to move in a different direction once in a while. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in a straddle position. Reach up and over, trying to keep your torso as open as possible (rather than collapsing forward).
5. Splits: The evening, after a day of constantly moving around, is actually a great time to push yourself a bit further in trying to increase your flexibility. Start in a hamstring stretch, with your hips square, and slide your front foot forward incrementally. If you just get yourself into this position every night and sloooowly increase your range of motion, you'll be surprised at how soon you're rocking splits you haven't seen since high school!
p.s. Now, try these 3 stretches to start your day!