1. Do some stretches while you are at work
You shouldn’t let hours pass at the desk before you get up and move. Instead, every half hour you should get up and do just one stretch! Your productivity and energy levels will improve. Some simple stretches you can do without moving too far away from your desk include:
Left picture: Stand with your hands on your lower back. Keep your knees straight and gently lean your shoulders back over your hips. This ‘extension’ movement helps you to stretch in the opposite direction you are slumped in the chair in! Great for preventing and managing low back pain.
Centre picture: Hip flexor stretch. In the above stance, try to tuck your tail bone under. You should feel the stretch at the front of the hip on the back leg.
Right picture: Hamstring stretch. The leg that is up on a stool should be slightly bent. Make sure you feel the stretch in the muscles at the back of the thigh.
2. Stretch before you put your feet up
Just before you collapse on the couch at the end of the day, get down on the floor and hold stretches for a few minutes. Or in the TV ad breaks, you could get up and stretch. Trust me you will feel better for it. Some great floor stretches include:
3. Factor in 10 minutes of stretching AFTER a cardio workout
Yes studies show that stretching AFTER not BEFORE a cardio workout is best. This is when the muscles are warm and you will get more out of the stretch. Make sure you stretch all your major muscle groups.
4. Vary your cardio
Just varying your cardio can help improve your flexibility. For example, if you sit all day for work then cycle as your main choice of exercise, your body has remained in that same bent forwards position. Just changing your body position for different workouts can help to loosen up tight areas. So if you sit all day for work, jump in the pool and do some freestyle or backstroke to help iron you out! See previous post “Is cycling really good for you?”
5. Get your brain in on the action!
Your stretching will be far more effective if you think about the muscle that you are stretching and ACTIVELY RELAX it. Try not to resist the tightness and hold your muscle stiff and rigid. Instead, allow your muscle to relax into the stretch. Breathe as you hold the stretch and just ‘let it go’.
Tell us your favourite stretch in the comments below!