Whether you are getting out of bed, sitting at a computer desk all day, or out playing basketball, everyone can benefit from this simple practice. If you have aspirations of going from the couch to a 5k these stretches will serve you well.
You don't need any apparatus, special clothing or equipment per se, just a willingness to put in a few minutes a day in an effort to keep the doctor away. Here goes.
1. REACH: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and reach upwards with both arms as high as is comfortable. Take 3- 5 breaths and as you do, try and reach a little further each time. Now slowly bend from the hips and reach your hands down as far as you can. Try and touch your knees, ankles, toes, or floor. Keep a slight bend in the knees and don't strain. Go as far as is comfortable. With time you will be able to reach further. Remember to breathe and try and reach a little further down towards the floor with each breath.
2. SIDE BEND: Feet shoulder width or a little wider, hands down along your side with palms facing in, slowly lean the top half of your body to one side and hold for 3-5 breaths. Meet back into the center and go to the other side. You can rest your hands at the side of your body OR if you are going to the left, raise your right hand up and over your head as you bend. Repeat on the opposite side.
3. UPPER BODY TWIST: Feet shoulder width or more apart, hands out to the side and shoulder height, palms facing forward and elbows bent. Rotate from the waist side to side as far as you can. Arms are pushing back to also stretch the chest area forward at the same time. Do not hold on each side, just twist back and forth 5-10 times.
4. CALF RAISES: If you need a little support, stand facing a wall with hands resting on the wall. Lift up unto the ball of your feet, and then release back down. Slow and steady 10 times.
5. BACKSTRETCH: Lie on your back on a mat or carpet to form a little cushion. Take one leg at a time, and bring your bent knee into your chest. Hold in place with both hands on the shin, for 3-5 breaths, making sure to keep your lower back engaged and on the floor. Repeat with the other leg.
6. CORE CRUNCH: While on your back, with knees bent and feet on the floor, place your hands on your thighs. Slowly lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor as your hands slide up towards the knees. Feel the crunch on your core, while keeping your lower back engaged on the floor. Hold in place for a few seconds and then lower down. Try to complete 5-10 times.
7. ARM AND LEG BALANCE: Come unto all fours on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Hands positioned in line under your shoulders, and knees under your hips. Lift your right knee off the floor and push your leg straight out behind you. Then lift your left hand off the floor and point it forward from the shoulder. If this is too much, try one of these moves at a time. Hold for 3-5 breaths engaging your core. Repeat on the other side.
The secret is to be consistent and take your time. Breathing is also a key element, so that oxygen reaches to the extremities of the body. Try and get into a rhythm with your movement.
If any part of this routine is too difficult or uncomfortable, modify the move to fit your level.
Happy Stretching, Happy Days, and Happy Training!