Whether you spend each day at a desk or on your feet, your commute is a quick walk or a long drive, you did a 20-minute HIIT workout or an hour of Pilates, your body gets put through its paces on a daily basis. So it's important to give it a little TLC at the end of the day with a good stretch.
Stretching not only relaxes you, but it also keeps your muscles flexible so you're less likely to experience discomfort during everyday activities, and doing it before bed can greatly impact and benefit the sleep your body gets throughout the night. It allows you to release some of the tension you've built up during the day so you can prepare both your body and mind for a good night's sleep.
Try these bedtime stretches and be ready for a great night sleep so you can wake up ready for your brisk morning walk (link) before work.
Standing Forward Fold
Stand with feet about six inches apart and from the hips, fold torso over, reaching towards the ground or bending arms and grabbing opposite elbows above the head. Exhale and lengthen down through the crown of your head. Hang and hold for 15 seconds.
This stretch increases blood flow back to the head, and by swaying back and forth gently, you can also release tension in the hips and legs.
Stand tall and inhale as you open your arms out wide. Exhale as you cross your arms, placing your right arm over your left and your left over your right to give yourself a hug. Breathe deeply as you use your hands to draw your shoulders forward. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. To release, inhale to open your arms back open wide. Exhale and repeat with your left arm on top.
This stretch works the rhomboids and trapezius muscles of your upper back. It helps to alleviate shoulder blade discomfort or pain that’s caused by poor posture, bursitis, or frozen shoulder.
Kneeling Lat Stretch
Come into a kneeling position in front of a chair, couch, or low table. Check that your knees are directly under your hips. You can rest on a blanket or cushion for extra support. Lengthen your spine as you hinge at the hips to fold forward, resting your forearms on the surface with your palms facing together. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat 1 to 3 times.
This stretch helps to loosen up the muscles in your back and shoulders, relieving pain and discomfort.
Come down on your knees, sitting back on your heels. Hinge at your hips to fold forward and rest your forehead on the floor. Extend your arms in front of you to support your neck or bring your arms alongside your body. You can use a pillow or cushion under your thighs or forehead for extra support. Breathe deeply in while holding the pose, bringing your awareness to any areas of discomfort or tightness in your back. Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes. You can also come into this pose between other stretches to give your body a rest.
Child’s pose is a resting stretch that’s similar to a kneeling lat stretch, but more relaxed. It’s perfect for tuning into your breath, relaxing your body, and reducing stress. It also helps to relieve pain and tension in your back, shoulders, and neck.
Up the Wall
Sit facing the wall and lie onto your back. Moving buttocks as close to the wall as possible, lift legs and rest the back of legs against the wall, legs perpendicular to the ground. Rest with your arms out to sides, palms up. Hold for 15 seconds.
Anyone who spends the day on their feet can benefit from this stretch. Elevating the legs allows blood flow to travel back towards the heart, reducing inflammation.
Seated Forward Fold
Sit on the ground, back straight, legs together and stretched out in front of you. Flex feet (keeping them active) and bend forward from hips, reaching for toes (or as far as feels comfortable) with hands. Hold for 15 seconds.
Leg day? Your hamstrings and calves are probably sore if you were doing exercises like good mornings and box jumps. The farther you stretch here, the more you'll feel it in the back of your legs.
Lie on your back, lift legs and bend knees, feet flexed towards the ceiling. Grab big toe of each foot with respective hand and further bend knees towards armpits. If able, rock left to right, gently massaging the spine. Hold for 15 seconds.
Happy baby lengthens and realigns the spine, stretches the inner groin, and can help release your hips. After a long day in the office, this stretch can be a lifesaver, helping to rid you of stress.
Climb into bed and lie down, legs slightly apart and stretched out in front of you, arms long by your sides with palms up. Close your eyes and bring focus to your breathing. Hold for 15 seconds or until you fall asleep.
The best way to end the day is to let go of everything you're holding onto, especially stress. By focusing the mind on stillness and bringing awareness to the breath, the body begins to naturally relax, preparing you for a great night's rest.