Some days you want to plop right down on the floor and stay there. With these four moves, you can at least work on your mobility while you're down there. And that just might lift your energy and help you move through your day with ease.
You'll start with crocodile breathing (sounds strange, but wait 'til you try it!) to open your chest and ribs, progress to neck nods and circles (great for relieving tension and "tech neck"), stretch your entire spine with clock stretch, then finish up with the figure 4 stretch for your hips.
Below are instructions to guide you through one rep of each move. Repeat as many times as feels good and at a pace that works with your body.
Start with two to three breath cycles — one inhale and one exhale is one cycle — then see how you feel. Continue for up to 2 minutes. Repeat for up to 3 sets of each move.
If you’re especially tight in a specific area, you may want to slow down or not stretch as deeply. Or if something feels really good, repeat or hold for as long as you’d like. Remember: This is your practice!
1. Crocodile Breathing
- Lie on your stomach, legs extended out straight and arms folded so you can rest your forehead on your hands.
- Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, allowing your rib cage and belly to naturally expand outward as you fill your lungs.
- Breathe out through your nose to empty your lungs as much as you can without straining.
- On your next inhale, focus on completely filling your torso with air.
The yellow ball on McSpadden-Walker's back is there to demonstrate the depth of breath. You don't need to place anything on your back unless you'd like to.
One of the great things about this move is that you can do it in any position — prone, seated, kneeling, standing, in bed, etc. The important part is the breathing and expansion of your lungs and rib cage.
2. Prone Head Nod and Neck Rotation
- Lie on your stomach, legs extended out straight.
- Prop yourself up on your forearms. Your shoulders should be over your elbows.
- Gently drop your head forward.
- Slowly raise your head up and extend your neck as far back as you can without discomfort.
- Repeat for as many cycles as feels good.
- Then, switch to neck rotations: Turn your head to the left as if you were trying to look to the side and slightly behind you.
- Return to center before repeating on the right side.
- Repeat as long as you need.
Again, you can do this move from a variety of positions — standing, seated, kneeling, etc. — the prone position shown above is just a nice way to switch things up if you're able to get down to the floor.
3. Clock Stretch
- Lie on your stomach and imagine you are in the center of a giant clock — hands pointing up at 12 o'clock, feet pointing to 6 o'clock.
- Prop yourself up on your forearms. This is the starting position.
- First, stretch your upper body: Take your left arm and twist back behind you until you touch the 3 o'clock position with your left hand. Bend your left knee as needed to help you twist without pain or discomfort.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat, reaching your left hand to the 2 o'clock position, then returning to the start.
- Next, stretch your lower body: Reach your left foot toward the 3 o'clock position, rotating your torso as needed.
- Return, then bring your left foot to 5 o'clock.
- Next, you'll repeat with your right arm and then your right leg, reaching your arm to 9 and 10 o'clock and your leg to 9 and 7 o'clock.
"Sometimes, I put various objects [around me]... as if I'm in the middle of the clock," McSpadden-Walker says. "I then 'tap' each object with the opposite-side hand and foot."
They add: "You don't need to overthink this, simply get to them in any pain-free way you can. I do this from my back and tummy, then switch sides."
4. Figure 4 With Twist
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can loop a strap or towel around your left thigh if you'd like. Otherwise, grab your left thigh with both hands.
- Cross your right foot over your left thigh, forming a figure 4.
- Draw your left thigh toward your chest, using either your hands or the strap. Press your right knee away from you to open your hips.
- You can choose to stay here or slowly rotate to the left, dropping your left foot to the floor. Focus on controlling the motion with your abdominal muscles.
- Return to the center and switch legs, repeating the movement on the opposite side.
You can also do the figure 4 stretch from standing or while seated.
Join the 4-Week Mobility Challenge!