With everything becoming remote due to the pandemic, we have been spending an enormous amount of time hunched over our desks and computer screens. We can not neglect the importance of good posture as it plays an integral role in our health, ensuring that our spine is well aligned with the rest of our body and tension within muscles and ligaments are properly distributed. Further, bad posture can lead to back pain and spinal dysfunction. Here are five simple everyday stretches to help improve and promote good posture and good health:
1. Child’s Pose
This pose works to release tension in your neck and lower back while stretching your spine, glutes and legs muscles.
How to do the child’s pose stretch:
- Sit on your shins with your knees together or open whichever is most comfortable, big toes touching, and your heels out to the side.
- Fold forward at your hips and place your hands out in front of you.
- Sink your hips back down toward your feet.
- Gently place your forehead on the floor or turn your head to one side.
- Relax in this pose for up to 5 minutes while taking deep breaths.
2. Side Tilt
This stretch works to release tension in your neck, shoulders and upper back. This exercise works to loosen tight muscles and relieve pain which can cause headaches.
How to do the side tilt stretch:
- Gently tilt your head toward your right shoulder, trying to touch it with your ear. Stop when you feel the stretch. (Don’t raise your shoulder.)
- Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds, then return to the start position repeat 2-3 times.
- Repeat on your left side. Repeat this stretch daily throughout the day .
- For extra stretch, place your hand on top of your head, and gently pull ear to shoulder..
3. Downward-facing Dog
This pose helps to relieve back pain, while also strengthening and aligning your back muscles. Regular practice of this pose helps to improve posture.
How to do the downward-facing dog stretch:
- Lying with your stomach on the floor, press into your hands and toes, lifting your heels.
- Lift your knees and hips to bring your tail bone up toward the ceiling.
- Bend your knees slightly and lengthen your spine.
- Tuck your chin all the way into your chest.
- Press firmly into your hands and keep your heels slightly lifted.
- Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.
4. Seated Side Bend
This pose stretches and strengthens the muscles between your ribs, ultimately helping support the ribs. Additionally, this pose lengthens the abdominal muscles, hips, and thigh muscles, while improving flexibility in the spine.
How to do the seated side bend stretch:
- Start by sitting cross-legged on the floor, and straight back.
- Place your left hand on the floor with your elbow slightly bent.
2. Reach your right arm up and over your head and lean to the left side.
3. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, switch sides, and repeat.
5. Spine Stretch
This pose works to stretch your abdomen, chest, shoulders and low. Practicing this pose regularly strengthens your spine and relieve stress in your back.
How to do the spine stretch stretch:
- Sit down on the floor with your legs straight out, knees slightly bent, toes pointed towards the ceiling.
- Sit up with your back straight.
- Take a deep breath in and while you are exhaling reach out straight in front of you. (Make sure you are not reaching for your toes but straight out in front of you.)
The best time to stretch is in the morning when you wake up and again in the evening before bed. This prepares the body for the day as well as unwinds the body from everything it has done all day. However, stretching throughout the day, taking time to breath and move is key for optimal health.