Woman and child face each other while bending over in a stretch and laughing

Stretches to Get your Mind and Body in Check

Some days are harder to get through than others. Stress from work, study, family, and of course (that big ‘ol the elephant in the room) a global pandemic, can have a huge impact on your mood and productivity.

It’s important to move your body every day to help release any built-up tension, which is why 30 minutes of daily exercise is recommended. But what can you do if you’re in lockdown or having to work from home and are finding it hard to get outside and exercise?

You can stretch of course!

Stretching is usually done before and after exercising, but it also helps to stimulate receptors in the nervous system which help to slow the production of stress hormones. Hence why you feel super zen after a yoga class.

Stretching can not only increase blood flow and improve your posture, but it can help provide an all-important energy lift when you’re feeling tired, stressed, or anxious.

If you’re looking for a way to break up your working day, we recommend including a stretching routine to get your mind and body back into the flow!

Try out these 5 stretches!

Downward facing dog

The bread and butter of yoga poses that helps to stretch your chest, hamstrings, and back.

  • Start on your hands and knees, with your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees under your hips (a bit like a cat pose).
  • Press your hands into your mat.
  • Lift your tailbone imagining there is an invisible string attached to your tailbone that is pulling your hips towards the ceiling. Straighten your legs as best you can and press your heels gently toward the floor.
  • Keep your head relaxed between your arms and facing your knees whilst keeping your back straight.
  • Hold this for 60 seconds (or however long you like) and remember to take nice deep breaths as you hold it.

Woman in grey yoga pants and green top doing downward dog on a pink yoga mat

Elbow Out Rotator Stretch

This one is great for improving hunched backs from sitting at a desk.

  • You can do this one standing or sitting nice and tall.
  • Place your left hand on the middle of you back with your palm and elbow pointing out.
  • Reach your right hand across the front of your body and grab onto your left bicep or elbow and gently pull forward.
  • Hold for 60 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Lady with bright pink hair wearing brightly coloured active wear stand facing away from the camera doing an elbow out rotator stretch

Piriformis Stretch

This stretch is great for releasing any tension in your hips from sitting for extended periods of time.

Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you.

  • Cross your left leg over your right leg, bend your knee and place your left foot flat on the floor.
  • Then place your left hand on the floor behind you and turn your head in the same direction.
  • Place your right hand on your knee and twist your torso in the direction you are facing.
  • Hold for 60 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

There’s plenty of variations you can try for this stretch.

Girl with brown hair wearing grey active wear doing a form of the piriformis stretch

Lower back stretch

A stretch for that aching lower back… need we say more?

  • Lie on your back with your legs stretched out flat.
  • Then bring one knee toward your chest and hold your knee with both hands.
  • Keep the other leg flat to the ground.
  • Hold for 60 seconds and then repeat with the other leg.

Woman Lying And Doing Half Knees To Chest Pose At Home

Puppy Pose

Puppy pose is a modified version of downward facing dog that doesn’t stretch your hamstring. Instead, it works to extend your back and open your chest. We think it’s a great one to finish your stretching routine with.

  • Like Down Dog, start on all fours.
  • Move your hands forward in front of you and slightly straighten your arms, keeping them engaged as your push your palms into the ground.
  • Push your hips up and back and keep your knees on the ground.
  • Hold for 60 seconds.

Woman doing puppy pose on a yoga mat

These five stretches should take about 8-10 minutes to complete, however, you can cut the time in half by holding each stretch for 30 seconds.

We also recommend creating a calendar reminder or note on your phone, so you remember to take your stretch break each day!

If you’re looking to add more stretches to your stretching routine,  our very own High-Performance Manager, Matt Pine did a range of  5 minute work outs on the Wellness Hub last year.

Looking for that extra bit of motivation? SportUNE has a range of weekly group fitness classes on offer, check out our classes here. Or to learn more about fitness and wellbeing and connect with like-minded people, visit the Wellness Hub.