I was once told that we (humans) are the only mammals that don’t stretch first thing in the morning.  I’m not sure if that’s 100% true, but I think there is some truth to it.

I’m constantly amazed at the amount of people that do not stretch.  It’s crazy! 

If you exercise, you should stretch afterward.  It relieve aches and pains and it also helps prevent injuries.

If you sit down for an extended period of time, you should stretch every once in a while.  It improves blood flow and circulation to the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

You should also stretch before you go to bed, and after you wake up.  It helps you relax and reduce stress.

Below are 5 stretches that you can (and should) do 2-3 times per day.  I want you to hold each for 30 seconds.  It will take you 5 minutes total to complete them all.  I promise, it’s a great investment of 5 minutes.

Lying Piriformis Stretch

This stretch improves your hip and glute flexibility, which helps keep your joints aligned during activity.

Instructions: Lie on your back,  bend both knees and bring your right ankle over your left thigh.  Lift your left foot off the ground, bringing your leg up to 90 degree angle.  Grab your left leg and slowly starting pulling your left knee to your chest.  Keep you head and neck relaxed (and on the ground).  Be sure to do both sides.

Lying Twist Stretch

This stretch lengthens and realigns the spine, which helps keep your lower back and hips flexible.

Instructions: Lie on your back (with your arms extended out) and bring both knees to your chest.  Slowly let your knees fall to one side, being sure to keep your shoulders on the ground.  Keep your head and neck relaxed.  Be sure to do both sides.

Posterior Shoulder Stretch

This stretch improves the flexibility in the rotator cuff and posterior capsule, which helps your shoulder range of motion.

Instructions: Lie on your left side with knees bent.  Make a 90 degree angle with your left arm.  Using your right arm, gently push your left hand down to the floor. Do not force it to go past a comfortable point.  Be sure to stay directly on your shoulder so that your shoulder blade doesn’t roll backwards.  Be sure to do both sides.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

This stretch improves flexibility in the hip flexors and quads.

Instructions: Kneel down with your right leg up front.  Make sure both knees form a 90 degree angle.  Keep both hips facing the same direction and engage your left (back) glute.  Slowly raise your left arm toward the ceiling.

Take slow deep breaths throughout the entire stretch.

Be sure to do both sides.  

Downward Dog Stretch

This stretch improves flexibility in calves, hamstrings and shoulders.

Instructions: Kneel down on both knees with hands directly under your shoulders and directly under your hips. Spread your fingers wide and tuck your toes under.  Slowly lift your knees off the floor while pressing your hips up.  Drive your heels to the floor (you can modify it by keeping your knees slightly bent).  Pushing your hands into the floor, pull your shoulder blades down.  Be sure to keep your head between the arms (not hanging).

There you have it. Implement these 5 stretches daily…and I’m confident you will start moving and feeling better!

If you need help coming up with a personalized stretching routine…I’d love to help you!  CLICK HERE to learn about me and how I can help you.

Sean Millhouse is the owner of Fitness 101.  He has been an Ace-Certified Personal Trainer for over 20 years…and has helped thousands of Spring/Klein residents achieve their health and fitness goals.