“If you’re not failing once in a while, it probably means you’re not stretching yourself”— Lewis Pugh
The known benefits of stretching are vast! Increase your flexibility and reduce your risk of injuries with our 30-minute daily stretching routine.
Devoting half an hour every day and making this a habit will do you wonders. This series of 20 stretches exercises will cover most of your muscles.
I recommend holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds to optimize the muscle fibre elongation.
Sit in a cross-legged position or stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place your right hand on top of your head and gently tilt your head to the right. Apply some pressure on your head with your hand if you want to increase the stretch. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bring your right arm, straight, across your upper body. With your left arm, gently pull your right elbow towards your chest. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your left arm towards your back and put your left hand between your shoulder plates. With your right hand, grasp your left elbow and pull gently. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Clasp your hands behind your back and rotate them so that your palms face the floor. Slowly bend over and raise your arms. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
(5/20) Wrists, Fingers, and Forearms
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your right arm straight forward at shoulder’s height with your palm facing up. With your left hand, gently pull the fingers of your right hand towards you. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
(6/20) Back and Obliques
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise both arms and clasp your fingers together. Lean your upper torso to the left until you feel the stretch in your obliques. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Stand, this time, with your feet wide apart. Place your left hand on your left thigh. Raise your right arm then lean your torso to the left until you feel the stretch in your obliques. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
(8/20) Neck and Back Torso – Cat-Cow pose
This exercise also reinforces your abs. Start with all fours (knees and hands) on the ground. Keep your hands in parallel with your shoulders and your knees in parallel with your hips. Inhale as you drop your belly towards the ground. Slowly, lookup by lifting your chest and chin upwards. This is the cow pose. To move into cat pose, exhale and draw your belly to your spine, rounding your back toward the ceiling. Slowly lower your head to look down without forcing your chin to your chest. Repeat this 10 times.
(9/20) Lower Back – Child’s pose
Kneel with your knees wide apart and your feet together behind you. Bend your torso forward and extend your arms in front of you. Rest your forehead on the ground. Hold for one minute.
(10/20) Lower Back and Hips
Lay flat on your back and bring your right knee to your chest. Grasp your knee with both hands and pull gently. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Once you’ve done both sides, bring both knees to your chest. With both hands around both knees, pull gently. Hold the pose for another 20-30 seconds and release.
(11/20) Abs – Cobra pose
This exercise also reinforces your back, shoulders, arms and wrists. Lie face-down on the floor. Place both hands on the ground parallel to your shoulders. Keep your elbows close to your body. Lift your chest, making sure your low ribs remain on the floor. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds.
(12/20) Hamstrings, Calves and Arches – Downward-Facing Dog
The downward-facing dog pose also strengthens your quadriceps and ankles. Start with all fours (knees and hands) on the ground. Keep your hands in parallel with your shoulders but slightly forward. Keep your knees in parallel with your hips. Tuck your toes. As you exhale, lift your knees away from the ground while keeping your arms straight. Your knees will slightly be bent and your heels off the ground. Push your thighs back and flatten your heels to the ground. Straighten your knees without locking them. Keep your back straight and your head between your upper arms. Hold the pose for 30 seconds.
(13/20) Hips & Glutes – Reclined Pigeon pose
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet off the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee. With both hands, grasp your left hamstring and gently pull toward you. While doing this, make sure that your upper body remains flat on the ground. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Sit with your legs straight. Bend your right knee and bring it toward your chest, placing your right foot outside of your left thigh. Then, bend your left leg so that your left foot rests under your right glute. Hold your right knee with your left hand and keep your right arm on the floor next to your hip. Turn your torso to the right and look over your right shoulder. Make sure that your buttocks remain flat on the floor. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
(15/20) Lower Back, Hamstrings and Calves – Legs-up-the-wall pose
Besides being very relaxing, this pose is great for your blood circulation. Find a nice space around a wall (it can be the headboard of your bed) and bring your hips as close to the wall as possible (in the picture, just imagine that the white line is a wall!). Bring your feet up the wall until your body is in a reversed L-shaped position. Place your arms out to the sides or on your belly whichever way is most comfortable for you. Hold the pose for 2-3 minutes. You can also then spread your legs to the sides for another minute. This will stretch your adductors.
(16/20) Adductors – Butterfly pose
Sit with your knees dropped to the sides and the soles of your feet pressed together. Drop your knees as far as they will comfortably go, slightly lean forward and grasp your ankles with your hands to slowly pull yourself a little bit further forward. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
This exercise is usually done standing but I find it nice and comfortable lying prone. Lie face-down and bring your right heel to your butt. Grasp your foot with your right hand and pull slightly. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lean a little forward and slightly bend both knees. Straighten your left leg in front of you, with your heel on the ground and your toes up. Place your right hand on your hips and grasp your left toes with your left hand. Make sure you keep your hips straight. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
(19/20) Hamstrings – Hurdler Hamstring stretch
Sit with both legs out straight. Bend your left leg with your knee on the side and the sole of your foot against your right inner thigh. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, extend your arms and bend forward to reach as far as you can. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Once you’ve done both sides, repeat the exercise, this time keeping both legs out straight.
Stand in front of a wall with one foot in front of the other (again, imagine that the white line on the picture is a wall!). Slightly bend your front knee. Keep your back leg straight with your heel on the ground and lean toward the wall. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
And that’s it! I hope you feel amazing, like I do, after doing these stretches every day. You can, of course, add many other stretches but these basic poses will cover most parts of your body. Remember to make stretching a daily habit.
If you are looking for other habits to add to your routine, you can read our article about the opportunities provided by the coronavirus situation.