Stretching every day is important; it can help with flexibility, clear the mind and improve balance. In my opinion, the most critical “every day stretches” are those that involve the spine. The spine moves 6 ways, and if you think about the daily activities you do, they all involve the spine moving in those different directions. The six spinal movements, and some of my favorite yoga poses that involve moving the spine are below.
Every Day Stretches For Runners
Forward Fold (Flexion)
What is flexion? Flexion is rounding through the spine. Have you ever reached down to tie your shoe, or grab something off the floor? These movements involve flexion of the spine.
My favorite stretch for this is a standing forward fold. While doing a standing forward fold, you get the benefits of flexion, but also stretch your hamstrings, release tension in your shoulders and your neck. The pull of gravity elongates the spine, creating space.
To do a fold, hinge at the hips, connect the torso to the thighs, and feel a great stretch in the hamstrings, spine, and shoulders. Allow gravity to pull tension from your body.
Standing Backbend (Extension)
Extension is the counterpart to flexion. Instead of rounding the spine, arch through the spine. When you reach into a high cabinet, or an absurdly high grocery store shelf, that is extension of the spine.
My favorite extension pose is a standing back bend in mountain pose. This stretches the spine, the chest, the abdomen and the shoulders. In this pose you are also creating space, and if you sit a lot, this is a great way to stretch areas of your body that are compressed while sitting.
To do this, place your palms together in a prayer position, and reach towards the sky. Then slowly reach behind you, creating a small bend in the back, stretching further as your body warms up and you gain flexibility.
Side-Bending Are The Next Two Movements Of The Spine
Our spines move side to side, and although you might not do this movement as often as the others, it’s important to incorporate to keep your spine healthy. You never know when you’ll need to reach over and turn on a lamp next to your couch!
My favorite way to bend sideways also incorporates a standing pose. The benefit of a standing side bend is that you also get a great stretch through your hips, and if you are a runner, any time you can get a bonus hip stretch is great!
To do this pose, start in mountain pose, and put your hands together in prayer position just like you did in standing backbend. Reach to the side, while trying not to push your hip to the side.
The Final Two Movements Of The Spine Are Twists.
We twist a lot as humans. Have you ever tried to find something in the backseat of your car while in the driver’s seat, or turned to talk to someone who has come to your desk? If you have, then you have done a spinal twist!
Twisting is my favorite way to move the spine, and my favorite twist is a seated pretzel twist. This twists the spine, while again getting a bonus hip stretch, and a bonus quad stretch.
To do this pose, come to a seat, and bend one leg as if you were going to sit criss-cross applesauce. Take the other leg and bring your foot to the outside of the criss-crossed thigh, with the sole of the foot planted on the ground. Take the opposite arm, and give your raised leg a hug. Then twist, looking over your shoulder. Make sure you are sitting nice and tall. If you aren’t able to wrap your legs into a pretzel pose, you can keep them straight instead.
These stretches can be done every day, and they only take a few minutes. A few ideas to incorporate these into your day are to try them during the day as a break from your desk, in the morning after you’ve warmed up, or at night before you go to bed.
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