Here's a guest post from our Team Beachbody Expert Steve Edwards, who's on the scientific advisory board for all of the TBB workouts. So go get your stretch on!
Most of us are aware of what we can do, but dedicating your life to exercise and healthy eating is easier said than done. Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. Here's a quick way to feel great that's so easy you won't even know you're exercising.
Before we get started, let's talk a bit about "stretching." Generally, you hear that you need to warm up first. This is true. So, in theory, these are not stretches but exercises that help stretch you out. You don't need to warm up first. In fact, they are a warm-up themselves, as they'll prep your body for the rigors of each day. Enjoy!
1. Foot manipulations
This one won't even feel like an exercise, but can help you walk pain free and, if you spend a lot of time on your feet, it will decrease your chances of developing plantar fasciitis. Each morning, before you get out of bed, rotate your feet in a circle 10 times in each direction. Then flex your foot up and down, pointing your toes and pulling them up. The first step of your morning can be the most damaging to your feet. If you've done this exercise first, you're ready to start the day.
2. Cat stretch
Don't confuse this one with the yoga pose; it's much more basic than that. This is the stretch your cat does after it's been napping. You can do this in bed, while standing, or both. Simply extend your arms over your head and stretch your body as far as possible, pointing your toes and straightening your fingers. It feels good any time during the day, too, especially if you've been sitting around.
3. Dog stretch
This one is exactly like the yoga pose. A quick Sun Salutation or two, or at least the Downward and Upward Dog parts, are a great way to begin your day. Hey, it works for Fido. If you don't know this move, here it is:
o Downward Dog. Place your hands and feet on the ground as if you're doing a push-up, but with your feet a bit closer to your hands. Now raise your body into an upside down V. Keep your hands flat and your heels as low to the ground as you can. Flatten your back and push your hips to the sky.
o Upward Dog. Copy your dog's morning routine. From the Downward Dog position, drop your hips toward the floor, arch your back, and lift your head to the sky. You can also move slightly forward, moving off of your toes and onto the tops of your feet.
You can hold these positions as long as you're comfortable and move back and forth between the two. One repetition of each is much better than nothing. It will help your body loosen up, regulate your breathing, and invigorate you.
4. Calf stretch
From the Downward Dog position, move one knee forward and push the opposite heel toward the ground. Switch your legs back and forth a few times. These foot manipulations help reduce your chances of ever walking in pain again.
A client friend of mine came up with this move's name. I have no idea why. For this "exercise," simply open your hand as wide as possible (so it looks like a star, maybe) and close it into a fist. Concentrate on fully extending the fingers. You can do these any time during the day, as many repetitions as you have time for. It may not seem like much, but this exercise will greatly reduce your chance of developling carpal tunnel syndrome.
6. Finger/forearm stretch
Extend your arm straight in front of you. With the other arm, grab your fingers and stretch them back toward your body. Do this with your arm facing up, down, and inward. This completes your "no carpal tunnel for me" daily session. For an added stretch, interlock your fingers and push your hands away from your body. This also stretches the shoulders and back.
7. Quad stretch
Here's one you can do anytime you're standing around. Lift one foot and grab it behind you, pulling it up behind your butt. Now stand straight and tall and arch your back. This mainly stretches your quad (front of your leg), but also stretches your shoulders, chest, back and arms, especially if you move around to specifically address these areas. You can lean forward, pull your other arm behind you, and pull your shoulder blades together. There are more intense stretches for your quads, but this is one you can do pretty much anywhere and without warming up.
This is generally called a "forward hamstring stretch," but in this version you don't concentrate on the "stretch" aspect, just the hang. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, then bend forward at the waist and hang down. Once you're hanging, you may fold your arms over your head and straighten and/or widen your legs for a greater range of motion, but if you aren't warmed up, just let gravity provide all of the force. Hang and breathe calmly for as long as you like.
The leg-up is more than a popular blocking technique for male actors in films of the '40s and '50s; it's also the easiest way to loosen up the muscles in your waist region. To begin, pretend you're Tyrone Power discussing his case with the boys in Witness for the Prosecution (but feel free to lose the cigarette), and prop your leg up on anything convenient. To turn this simple act into a stretch, simply lower your torso (it helps to start in an exaggerated wide leg-up) by bending the knee. You can add more elements by twisting at your waist. To add a hamstring element, straighten the bent leg and continue to lean forward.
10. Side stretch
This is like the cat stretch, only done standing and bending sideways, making somewhat of a bow out of your body. Begin standing tall with your arms overhead. Drop one arm down along your side and bend in that direction, stretching with the upper arm. Keep your head looking up toward the upper arm. Repeat, stretching your other side.
what are your favorite stretches? leave a comment below and please share on Facebook if you've found this helpful! thanks!