Do you struggle to touch your toes? Are you stiff as a board? You probably know you should stretch more frequently but don’t prioritise it over all of the other tasks that keep you busy. The good news is you don’t have to start doing yoga five times a week to stay mobile. Simple stretches done frequently throughout the day are all you need to feel a little bit looser. If you want to improve your mobility with the least amount of effort possible then read below to learn more.
Cactus On Your Door
Tight in the chest? You can fix this by doing your best cactus impersonation every time you go through a doorway. Shoulder and thoracic spine mobility is a pressing issue for most people in modern society. We spend so much time hunched over our desks, phones and steering wheels that our chest muscles tighten up. This can cause the shoulders to round forward which is why so many of us look like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Reverse your rounded spine by using your door frames to stretch your pectoral muscles and shoulders. Place your hands either side of the frame and puff your chest through the door. If you did this every time you walked into a different room, your hunchy posture would improve drastically. Add a few door cactuses into your daily routine and see for yourself how much better your posture can be. Without tight pecs pulling your shoulders forward, you’ll be able to stand tall, proud and confident.
Use A Bench For A Hammy Stretch
Benches are everywhere. In the street, in your kitchen, in the office. Use their ubiquity to your advantage by stretching your hamstrings every time you see one. Tight hamstrings can cause a whole host of issues including lower back pain. Around 87% of New Zealanders say they have experienced pain in their lumbar region at some point in their lifetime. Lack of mobility is likely to be a factor in the majority of these cases. Make a habit of getting your leg up on chairs and benches to stretch your hamstrings every time you see one. Start by placing your foot on the object. Straighten your leg as much as possible and reach for your toes. It’s a pretty basic stretch but most of us don’t do it enough. Peppering this toe reach into your day will loosen up those hammies in no time.
Silence your inner lazy voice that tells you to take the escalator or lift. There are numerous benefits to taking the stairs instead. Not only will you get the heart rate up, but you can also stretch out your calves and improve strength in your leg muscles. Older people especially are encouraged to use stairs more often in order to reduce the risk of injury after a fall. Research shows that climbing just 55 flights per week can increase your lifespan. If you want to live longer and feel better then the stairs are a must. You can even use the bottom one to lengthen out the achilles and stretch those tight calves. If you’re lucky enough to have a two storey house, make the most of it by going up and down as often as possible. Never skip leg day and never skip an opportunity to conquer the stairs.
Kitchen Bench Stretch While Cooking
Shoulder pain is a common issue that can affect you at any age. Ask yourself how many times a day do you reach your arms up above your head? Probably not as often as you could. In order to prevent shoulder injuries we need to ensure the joint is free from impingements. You don’t need to see a physio in order to improve shoulder health. You can easily stretch it out in the comfort of your own kitchen. Next time you cook dinner, use your bench to get into those shoulders and lats. Place both hands on the kitchen counter and stick your butt back. Drop your head through your arms and take a few deep breaths. You should feel this stretch in your shoulders, lats and back of the legs. Pressing harder into your hands will make it feel more intense. Those who lack shoulder mobility will struggle to get their head between their biceps. But as with anything, the more you do it the better you get.
Have you heard of “Text Neck Syndrome” before? Basically it is a repetitive stress injury resulting from having your neck in a forward position for an excessive length of time. This forward neck position occurs every time you look down at your phone or device. Although the iPhone is an amazing technological innovation, it has led to a plethora of neck injuries and poor posture. Luckily you don’t have to give up your phone in order to save your neck. Instead, you can do chin tucks throughout the day. Start by sitting upright and looking straight ahead. Pull your chin straight back until you feel a stretch at the base of your neck. Hold for five seconds then come back forward. You can place your fingers on your chin if it helps you perform the movement better. This exercise should not be strenuous. Repeat the movement at least 10 times then take a break. Do these while at your desk, when sitting in traffic or right now while reading this article. There is nothing fun about having a stiff neck. If a few chin tucks throughout the day can prevent soreness then it is definitely worth doing.
Compared to indigenous cultures, us Westerners tend to have terrible mobility and frequently experience pain as a result. This is because we tend to live sedentary lives and spend too much time sitting on chairs. We don’t run around and squat like we used to in the hunter gatherer days. Improvements in technology have made our lives easier but our bodies are not as mobile as they used to be. If you want to rid your body of aches and pains, the key is to move more. By using props in your environment like chairs, stairs and door frames, you can put your body into positions it is not accustomed to being in. Motion is lotion and rest is rust. The more movement you can sneak into your day, the better. Don’t worry about completing long, complex mobility routines if you find them too hard-basket. Make your 2023 resolution to be as active as possible and your body will thank you for it later.