You might be tempted to skip the stretches due to your hectic schedule, but doing so can cost you in other ways. Taking five to 10 minutes to stretch each day can spare you muscle soreness after a vigorous workout, improve your posture after hunching over a computer all day and ease back pain from carrying the kids. Look and feel better no matter how crazy your day is by incorporating some low-impact stretches into your busy routine.
Warm up for five to 10 minutes before doing your low-impact stretches to loosen your muscles and avoid injury. Take a short walk, pedal your stationary bike at a leisurely pace or march in place.
Enjoy the benefits of head-to-toe low-impact stretches, starting with the neck. Stand straight with your arms by your sides. Look to your left by turning your head, aiming to have your chin over your shoulder. Slowly turn your head back to center, and then toward the right. Hold each turn for 10 seconds; repeat three times.
Stretch your shoulders and arms by reaching overhead. Clasp your fingers together, and stretch 2 to 3 inches higher. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
Do the cat and cow pose to relax and stretch the muscles of your back and chest. Get down on all fours. Round your back while tucking your pelvis toward your belly. Hold the cat pose for 10 to 20 seconds. Perform the opposite stretch by transitioning into an arched-back position while looking up toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, and then release.
Lengthen and loosen the abs and oblique muscles by extending your arms overhead. Intertwine your fingers, reaching them upward even more, if possible. Stand tall as you lean over toward your left until you feel the stretch along your right side. Hold the position for 20 seconds. Straighten up slowly, and then repeat it on the other side.
Stretch the hips and quads with side and forward lunges, holding each position for 20 seconds. Loosen the opposite thigh muscles -- the hamstrings -- by sitting with your legs extended in front of you. Rest your hands on your legs while folding at the waist. Let your upper body come down toward your legs as far as comfortably possible. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds.
Complete your head-to-toe low-impact stretching series with a relaxing knee-to-chest stretch. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Draw your right knee up toward your chest, wrap your hands around your knee and gently pull it toward you. Hold the position for 20 seconds. Lower your right leg slowly, and then repeat on the other side.
- Talk with your doctor before you start any new physical fitness activity.
- Stretching shouldn't be painful. If it is, stop the exercise and see your doctor before you proceed any further.
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.