5 Of My Favorite No-Equipment Stretches

stretching

Everyone needs to stretch every day. You don’t need to stretch everything but you do need to target key areas and move your joints through full ranges of motion regularly to keep your body healthy. Joint heath is vital to leading an independent life. You want to be able to tie you shoes and reach the top shelf in your 80s and maybe even 90s.

This may not happen if you don’t take care of your joints when you’re young, especially if your work is primarily sedentary and/or you spend a lot of time on the computer, phone, or tablet. Stretching your muscles will help your joints function. Stretching also keeps your muscles from getting tight and short, which can alter the way you move in daily life–walking, climbing stairs– and in exercise–running, lifting. And tight muscles can increase your risk for injury.

Here are five of my favorite stretches that can be done without bands or other gadgets. Try integrating them into your day; some can even be done by your desk at work.

  1. World’s Greatest Stretch: This one has to go first. It gets its name because it helps open up your ankles, hips, chest and shoulders. It’s a three-part stretch and can be done stationary, or across a room. Click here for pics that walk you through it, via Men’s Fitness. 
  2. Kneeling Hip-Flexor Stretch: This one is fantastic, especially if you sit a lot. It targets the front, top of your hips (hip flexors), as the name implies. If those guys are tight, it can cause several mobility and posture problems throughout the body (called a kinetic chain for a reason!) Click here for a video demo from the American Council on Exercise.
  3. Top-of-the-Shoulder Stretch: This one is super simple. It targets the top of your shoulders and into your neck. Great for desk jockeys. Yoga Journal has a great walk-through of this one, and a few others you might want to try. 
  4. Wall Shoulder Girdle Stretch: This another great one for those who spend a lot of hours typing, texting, and the like. This helps open up your chest and muscles in your upper back, freeing your shoulders to move properly. EXRX has a solid video demo and more in-depth explanation. 
  5. Pigeon: I love this stretch because it opens up the hips and stretches the Piriformis muscle (one of your external hip rotators that can be a literal pain in the butt.) If you’re hips are tight, you can do a modified pigeon that is elevated (click here). Or you can lay on your back, as seen here

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