We all love to lounge on the couch during a baseball game — especially during the World Series when the stakes are the highest — but the seventh inning stretch is the perfect opportunity to, well, stretch! Instead of sitting through the commercial break, channel your inner baseball player with these mobility drills and stretches.
All you need is a few feet of space and perhaps a mat to give your muscles the release they need, especially after sitting through a few hours of game time. Perform these moves slowly and only stretch as far as your flexibility allows.
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Warm Up: Run the Bases
Alright, so you probably don't have a baseball diamond in your living room. But you can still either run in place or jog around your living room like you've just hit a grand slam. (Raising your hands overhead in victory is optional.) A quick 30 to 60 seconds ought to get your muscles warm and your heart rate up.
Move 1: Shoulder Roll
- Begin standing (you've been sitting long enough).
- Lift or shrug your shoulders up and then roll them back.
- After you've pulled your shoulder blades back, bring them down.
- Repeat this rolling motion slowly about 10 to 15 times and then repeat in the reverse direction.
"You are trying to create a circular effect with your shoulder blades moving up, back, down and forward," says Sam Becourtney, physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments in New York City. "Think about 'greasing the grooves' as you move through this motion."
Move 2: Standing Spinal Rotation
- Remain standing and hold your arms out, bent at the elbows, forearms parallel to the floor.
- Rotate to your left side as far as you comfortably can, twisting you back and bringing your arms along.
- Twist back through center and then to the right side.
- Continue for 10 twists to each side, being careful not to force your back too far into a twist.
Chances are, if you're watching the big game, you've seen batters warm up with this stretch. That's because it helps warm up and stretch their entire back so they're ready to hit it out of the park. It can do the same for you.
Move 3: Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch
- Bring one arm across your chest and hold the back of your elbow with the opposite hand.
- Give it a gentle pull until you feel a stretch in your shoulder.
- Hold the stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds before you release.
- Repeat this stretch two to three times on each arm.
Move 4: Overhead Triceps Stretch
- Extend one arm up over your head and bend at the elbow. Imagine you're reaching for the top of your opposite shoulder with that hand.
- Grab the back of the elbow with your free hand and give it a gentle pull until you feel a stretch in the shoulder and back of the arm.
- Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Release and repeat the stretch two to three times on each arm.
Move 5: Upper Trap Stretch
- Stand with your left hand behind your back.
- With your right hand, reach over your head and hold your head just above the left ear.
- From here, gently pull your head toward the right side, trying to bring your ear to your shoulder. You should feel a stretch through the upper trap on the opposite (left) side as you pull the head to the right.
- Hold here for about 30 seconds before you release.
- Repeat this exercise two to three times before switching sides.
Move 6: Front to Side Lunge
- Stand up tall, then take a large step forward into a lunge. Both knees should be at 90-degree angles.
- Step back to the start, then take a large step out to the side with that same leg.
- Step back in.
- Do 10 sets on one leg before switching to the other side.
You might not be leading off to steal bases any time soon, but your hip flexors are likely tight from sitting for so much of the day. Open them back up with this dynamic lunge duo.
Move 7: Chest Openers
- Lie on your side with your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees, stacked on top of each other.
- Extend both hands out at shoulder height on the same side of your bent knees.
- From this position, glide your top arm across your chest, rotating your spine and chest toward the ceiling. Try to flatten your opposite shoulder and upper back agains the floor as your arm opens.
- Hold here for three to five seconds before bringing your arm back across your body and rotating your torso back to the side.
- Repeat this movement for 10 to 15 reps and repeat on the other side.
This mobility exercise will work on your upper back mobility, decreasing tightness in your chest, which contributes to the feeling of tight shoulders, Becourtney says. "The key is to make sure you keep the knees/hips stacked. As you rotate and try to bring your opposite shoulder to the floor, your knees will want to follow your arm [but] you will feel a greater stretch if you are able to dissociate your upper and lower body."
Move 8: Thread the Needle
- Start on your hands and knees with a flat back.
- Reach your right arm through the space between your left arm and knee, palm facing up.
- Follow the arm with your upper back and bend your straight arm slightly at the elbow to allow greater mobility.
- Once your shoulder reaches the ground (or as close as it can get), hold the stretch for three to five seconds.
- Bring your arm back out and repeat 10 to 15 times before switching to the other arm.
Move 9: Child's Pose
- Begin on your hands and knees, feet together.
- Sit you butt back toward your heels as far as you can go and allow your chest to lower toward the floor. You can even rest your chest on your thighs if your mobility allows.
- Extend your arms straight out in front of you, palms down.
- Hold here if you feel a deep shoulder stretch. Or move your hands forward while keeping your butt on your heels to increase the depth of the stretch.
Common in yoga, Child's pose is great for shoulder mobility, Becourtney says. Not to mention a relaxing way to end the seventh inning stretch before your team raises it again by winning the game.