Want to ward off winter aches and pains? Learn some of the best preventive stretches from Save!
Stretching is important all year long. But winter weather can cause your muscles to tighten up, making it even more crucial to keep them warm and well stretched. Whether you're planning to go skiing or kick back in front of the fireplace, you need to be ready! A good daily stretching program can ward off aches and pains, reduce your risk of injury, and even help you feel calmer and more relaxed. And if you do experience muscle spasms (like the shoulder cramps you get from too much gift wrapping!), a good, targeted stretch can often help soothe them. Here are some of the best preventive stretches for your entire body.
Downward dog is one of the best stretches for flexibility. You'll feel it primarily in your hamstrings, shoulders, and calves. Don't do it if you have glaucoma, though, as it raises the pressure in your eyes and head. But for most people, this is an excellent daily stretch.
Start on your hands and knees, with your body weight evenly distributed. Then tuck your toes under and use your abs to raise your body off the mat. Push your rear end up and back, pressing deeply through your hands and feet.
If you're less flexible or have mobility challenges, you can do a modified downward dog using a chair. Stand facing the seat of the chair, feet hip-width apart. Bend over and place your palms on the seat. Gently walk your feet backward, pushing up and back with your hips and keeping your arms straight. Lower your upper body as much as possible.
This is an excellent restorative stretch that can quickly ease pain in the lower back while gently stretching the shoulders. It's gentle and relaxing, making a great choice to do periodically throughout the day or even just before you go to sleep.
Kneel on all fours, with your knees slightly wider than your hips. Then gently push your rear end back and down over your heels. Let your arms straighten out in front of you, keeping your head down. You can sit in this position for as long as you like, allowing your body to stretch naturally.
If you have pain anywhere along your spine or the attached muscles, cat-cow can help release it. This stretch boosts spinal flexibility while relaxing the muscles along the entire upper and lower back. You can do this as part of a full stretching routine or whenever you feel your back starting to tense up.
Kneel on all fours (sensing a trend here? Many of the best stretches start on all fours!) with your hands directly under your shoulders. As you deeply inhale, gently arch your back, letting your belly drop as you look straight ahead. Then exhale, rounding your spine and pulling your belly muscles in as you look down to the floor.
You can also do a modified version of this stretch while sitting in a chair. Sit forward toward the edge of the chair. As you inhale, place your palms on the seat behind you and arch into a mild backbend. Then, round your spine on the exhale and bring your arms forward into a circle as if you were hugging someone. Repeat a few times.
This is a great stretch to do at the office, as you can remain seated in your chair. If your lower back or hips feel tight or painful, this one can provide significant relief. It also strengthens your hamstrings, making them less likely to spasm in the future.
Scoot up to the front edge of your chair and extend one leg straight in front of you, pushing your heel into the floor with your toes slightly flexed. Keep the other leg comfortably bent in a sitting position. Clasp your hands and place them just above the knee of your bent leg. Gently fold forward from the hips, keeping your spine long. Hold for several seconds and then switch legs.
If your shoulders and chest feel tight, try this stretch to loosen them. All you need is an open doorway of normal size. (Hint: the bathroom door works great, so you can catch this one during your binge-watching break!)
Stand just in front of the doorway. Extend your arms sideways at shoulder height. Bend them 90 degrees, palms facing forward, and gently press them into the front of the door frame. With one foot, take a step forward into the doorway. Keep your back straight and your arms pressing into the frame. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
This is an excellent stretch for those who work at a desk all day. It loosens the shoulders and related muscles that can tighten up during the workday. You can do it sitting in a chair, on the floor, or while standing. Try it while you're waiting for water to boil or after folding a load of laundry.
Extend your right arm across your body, keeping it as straight as possible. Bend your left arm in front of your body, creating a cradle for your right forearm. Use that cradle to support your right arm and gently pull it closer to your body. Extend fully through your right fingertips as you hold for 30 seconds. Then release and switch sides.
It's very common for the neck muscles to get tight from working at a computer or using your smartphone. Relax them with this easy, gentle stretch.
While sitting or standing up straight, let your left arm hang down and extend it fully at a slight angle away from your body. Gently tilt your head to the right, letting your right ear drop to your right shoulder while maintaining light tension in your left arm. Bring your right arm up and cross it over your head to deepen the stretch. Hold as you breathe in and out five times, then slowly release and switch sides.
Staying healthy this winter doesn't have to be expensive. With the Save mailer, you'll receive weekly coupons on health and wellness items, as well as all the everyday essentials you love. Be sure to check your weekly Save mailer for savings on some of the best health products.