Total body stretches are stretches that engage the body’s major muscle groups, including the back, shoulders, chest, arms, hips, and legs.
While stretching won’t shed thousands of calories or lead to rapid weight-loss, it’s an integral part of any health routine. Stretching is especially helpful if you suffer from chronic stress and anxiety because it relieves muscle tension and promotes relaxation.
During the holiday season and especially in this year’s Coronavirus pandemic, stress levels are reaching a peak across the country. With more time spent at home than ever before, many people are also struggling to stay active and keep moving.
Here is a short list of total body stretches that will help foster improved well-being and relieve chronic tension in your body.
1 – Seated Spinal Twist
- Sit down on the floor or on a chair with your body held straight and your legs crossed.
- Place your left arm on your right knee with your right arm behind you. Keep your fingers on the ground, facing away from your body.
- Inhale and elongate your spine, then exhale and rotate to the right. Stay looking over your right shoulder while also keeping both shoulders relaxed.
- Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
2 – Basic Quad Stretch
- Start by standing and holding onto a wall or the back of a chair.
- Grab the top of your left foot with your left hand and slightly bend your knee, bringing your foot toward the glutes. Your knee should be pointing straight at the floor.
- You should feel the stretch down the front of your leg. Squeeze your hips forward for a deeper stretch.
- Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times per leg.
3 – Neck Circles
- You can do this stretch standing or while sitting down.
- Drop your chin toward your chest, looking down beneath your shoulders.
- Slowly tilt your head to the left until you feel a long stretch along the right side of your neck.
- Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, slowly rotating your head from side to side.
4 – Hamstring Stretch
- Sit on a soft surface with one leg out in front of you. Place your opposite foot against the inner thigh of your straight leg.
- Lean forward and reach for your toes on the leg that is elongated, keeping your back straight. You should feel this stretch in the back of your extended leg.
- Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
5 – Shoulder Stretch
- Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and raise one arm out in front of you.
- Bring that arm straight across your chest, curling your other hand around the elbow. Your hand should gently push on the extended arm to deepen the stretch in your shoulders.
- If you’re not feeling an effective stretch, try dropping your shoulders.
- Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times.
6 – Butterfly Stretch
- Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet pressing into each other.
- Move your feet closer toward your hips to deepen the intensity of the stretch.
- Elongate and straighten your spine, tucking your chin in toward your chest.
- Slowly lean forward with your back straight. You can use your elbows to push gently on your thighs for a deeper stretch.
- Hold this post for about 30 seconds, then repeat two to four times.
For more information on total body stretches and making them a part of your normal fitness routine, click here for an article by the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).