When you're glued to your desk all day, a quick stretching session might be just what you need to shake off the stiffness and help you refocus.
This at-home stretching routine, created by Autumn Calabrese, NASM- and ACE-certified personal trainer, will help you release your muscles in just 10 minutes. Or if you really want to take your full-body stretching to the next level, go through these stretches twice.
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Before you begin, Calabrese recommends a quick breathing exercise to help your relax and take control of any anxiety you might be feeling. "You might not think of this when it comes stretching, but if you're gripping your muscles, you wont be able to relax and stretch," she says. "Deep breathing can help with this."
4, 7, 8 Breathing
- Sit cross-legged on the ground. Begin by emptying your lungs completely.
- Keeping your lips sealed, breathe in through your nose for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale forcefully through your mouth, pursing your lips and making a "whoosh" sound a count of 8.
- Repeat this cycle 4 times.
1. Neck Stretch Series
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, tilt your chin forward to the chest.
- Reach up with both hands and gently place them behind your head.
- Every so slightly, apply pressure downward to get a stretch in the back of the neck.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly release.
- Now tilt your right ear to your right shoulder and reach your right hand up above your head, resting it just above your left ear.
- Again, apply a light amount of pressure pressing your right ear a little closer to the right shoulder.
- As you do this reach the left hand toward the ground this will help deepen the stretch.
- Hold for 15 seconds and release slowly.
- Repeat twice on each side.
2. Open Your Heart
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Reach your hands behind your back clasping them together in a fist at the base of your back.
- Lift your clasped hands as high as you can behind you, gently pulling your shoulder blades together and pressing your chest forward.
- Hold for 15 seconds, then release. Repeat 3 times.
3. Lateral Bend
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
- Reach your right arm straight up in the air.
- Bend your torso to the left, reaching your right hand to the left while keeping it over your head.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Return to the top and repeat on the other side.
- Repeat this move twice on each side.
You should feel this stretch alongside the side of your body, Calabrese says. Keep your heels planted in the ground the whole time, too.
4. Forward Fold
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Fold forward letting your neck relax. Keep your back natural, without forcing it to flatten.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat twice. Try to relax into the stretch, going a little deeper with each breath.
"Only go as far forward as you can while keeping your legs straight to maintain the stretch on your hamstrings," Calabrese says. "If you want a little help from gravity, grab opposite elbows and continue to let your head hang down."
5. Twisting Runners Lunge
- Begin in a high plank with your hands directly below your shoulders, back in a straight line from head to hips to toes.
- Step your right foot forward next to your right pinky finger, relaxing through your hips and back.
- Move your left hand toward the midline of your body as you twist your torso toward your right knee.
- Lift your right hand to the sky as you twist into the right leg.
- Hold for 30 seconds on the right side.
- Reverse out of the pose and repeat on the left side.
- Do two rounds total.
"The twisting runners lunge will help open your hips and relieve tension in your low back," Calabrese says. "Focus on engaging the core and twisting out the negative while breathing in the positive."
6. Child's Pose
- Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart.
- Lower your torso between your knees.
- Extend your arms alongside your torso with your palms facing down.
- Relax your shoulders toward the ground and rest in the pose for as long as you need.