If you ever experience an afternoon slump, there is an easy way to revive your energy. Follow this simple series of twenty stretches and you’ll feel like a completely new person. Why does this work?
There are three reasons. Stretching causes you to breathe deeply bringing oxygen to your brain, in effect waking you up. Secondly, stretching releases the physical form of stress that is stored in your muscles. Storing that tension takes constant work by your muscles. Relieving that work frees up energy. Lastly, stretching helps your body remove toxins from your tissues. When you breathe deeply and move your body your lymph system is activated, cleansing the body of pollutants. The end result. You feel great!
Stretching Tips to Keep in Mind (Printable Version)
On each step in the series remember to:
- Breathe deeply and slowly
- Stretch to the point of feeling a “release,” but not to the point of feeling pain
- Hold each stretch for 10–30 seconds, or more if it feels good
- Go slow and be gentle. Over time you’ll actually feel greater benefits every day
- If someone laughs, invite them to join you
Twenty Stretches That Energize (See some visuals here)
1. Touch the Sky. Reach your arms up to the sky and as far back as you can safely go. You can try grasping like you’re trying to reach the stars.
2. Side Stretch. While standing reach your one arm over your head and to the opposite side. You can keep the other hand on your hip or in the air.
3. Touch Your Toes. Take off your shoes if you can. Wiggle your toes. Now bend at the hip and reach for your toes. Bending your knees is okay.
4. Shoulder Opener. Lean your palms against the wall above your head and bending at the hip to stretch out your shoulders and back.
5. Twirl ’Em. Make circles with your wrists and ankles. Rotate in both directions. Also with each hand, alternate making fists and opening your hand wide. Do this back and forth a few times. If you work at a keyboard, you’ll be love how this feels!
6. Loosen Your Neck. Go slow and gentle with neck stretching. Slowly stretch forward and back, side to side, round in circles, and twist to look over each shoulder. Remember slow and gentle. Only do what feels good.
7. Arm Stretch. Straighten one arm out in front of you. Now with the other arm pull the straight arm toward your opposite shoulder. Go slowly. If you use a computer mouse a lot during the day, this should feel really good. Keep your hands open wide to make this even better.
8. Arm Circles. While standing rotate each arm around in big circles both forward and backward. Do one arm at a time. Do this slowly.
9. Seated Twist. First sit up straight. Twist in your chair keeping your hips stationary. Twist all the way from lower back all the way up to your head looking over your shoulder.
10. Quad Stretch and Balance. Stand on one leg and stretch out your quadricep muscle by bending your knee and pulling your foot to your buttocks. If you’d like to advance this a bit, bend at the hip to touch your toes while doing this.
11. Hip Opener. Sitting in your chair cross one leg over the other so that ankle rests just above the knee. While doing this lean forward to feel a nice stretch in your hip and buttocks. Over time this one exercise can help with lower back problems and sciatica. It’s pretty amazing. Repeat with the other leg.
12. Seated Back Bend. Sitting in your chair you can do this a few different ways. Each of these will give a nice stretch to your stomach and chest muscles:
- Sitting on the edge of your chair with arms in the air, simply reach up and back.
- Sitting on the edge, clasp your hands behind your back with arms pointing down. Roll your shoulders in towards each other in the back and lean your head back.
- If you have a lean back chair, lift your arms in the air and lean back for a nice stretch.
By K. Stone of DumbLittleMan