Jill Koegel is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday.Read more from Jill here.
When it comes time to workout, are you feeling good and energized? Or are you tired and stressed, sore and stiff from sitting most of the day?
One reason many people opt out of workouts is pain. It could be stiff joints or sore muscles, or a combination.
Stretching throughout the day can help ease that discomfort and give you a better chance to “feel like” exercising. Since many of our positions during the day close the body off, focus on stretching motions that “open up” the body and allow deep breaths.
Let me start off by saying I am nowhere close to an expert in pain management. I do, however have chronic pain in my back and hips, related to the two long rods and more than 20 screws that fuse together 12 of my vertebrae. Since a back surgery for scoliosis nine years ago, I have relied on activity, core exercises and stretching to ease the constant tension and discomfort. While you might not have the story I do, almost everyone can relate to sitting or standing in one place for too long and feeling stiff because of it.
Here are some simple stretches you can try throughout your day to relieve tension. These stretches can help motivate you to get to the gym, ease pain and give you a boost of energy!
Seated or standing, bring both arms behind your back and clasp your hands. With straight arms, pull your shoulders back, shifting shoulder blades together. To add more intensity, lift your chin toward the ceiling and relax your head back. Take a deep breath slowly, breathe out slowly and release the stretch.
Seated on the edge of a chair/bench, cross one leg over the other, with one ankle on the other thigh. Relax the bent leg and bend forward at the waist. For extra intensity, press gently downward on the thigh of the crossed-over leg. You can also do this stretch lying on the ground.
Standing with straight legs, cross one leg in front of the other, with feet close together. Bend over at the waist and let your head relax down. Dangle your hands downward to the floor. Take a deep breath and release the stretch. Switch legs.
Perform the cat/cow stretch. On your hands and knees with your head in a neutral position and your back flat, slowly lift your head and chest while you sink your belly toward the floor. Let your sitting bones come up as well. This is cow position. Then release this position slowly, coming back to a flat back. Continue to a rounded spine, lowering your head and sit bones as you pull your belly up with a rounded back. This is cat position. Continue this combination of stretches slowly.
Stretch in each position for 10 to 30 seconds, breathing the entire time. Relax and repeat if desired! Perform these stretches at least 1 to 2 times daily, or more for best results.