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5 Effective Full-Body Stretches for When You’re Short on Time

Woman doing a yoga twist in a yoga studio.
Karla Tafra / LifeSavvy

You’ve finished your workout and you have to run to your next appointment, leaving you basically no time to stretch. Luckily, there are some easy, yet effective, full-body stretches you can perform in less than five minutes and still get all the benefits.

Stretching is important, especially after a tough workout. It helps improve blood circulation, and also enhances recovery and reduces soreness. When you’re crunched for time, it’s important to learn which stretches are actually safe instead of just rushing through your regular routine and risking injury. Here are five amazing stretches to try out after your next workout.

Downward Dog Walk-Outs

One of the best full-body stretches you can do after any type of workout is a downward dog walk-
out. Start in a plank position, palms under your shoulders, and push your hips diagonally back and up. Extend your legs and feel your heels reaching toward the floor.

Push the ground away from you and bring your shoulders down, creating space for your neck. Shake your head yes and no to make sure there’s no tension. Then, slowly start bending one leg, and then the other, alternating with each in- and exhale. Keep your spine straight throughout each move and follow your breath, as you move in sync. Try to get 10-20 steps with each leg before exiting the pose.

Runner’s Lunge in Two Levels

This dynamic stretch is amazing for your legs and back, but also improves hip mobility, and opens your chest and shoulders. Place your palms on the mat underneath your shoulders, and step your right foot in-between. Stretch your left leg behind you, coming up high on the ball of your left foot.

Push the ground away from you and roll your shoulders up and back. Feel the space between your shoulder blades expand. You can use a yoga block if your hands don’t easily touch the floor. Activate your back leg by squeezing your quadriceps, and you’ll simultaneously feel the stretch in your right hip, hamstring, and left calf.

Stay here for three to five long breaths before dropping your left knee down to the floor to perform a deeper stretch. Push your right knee away from you. If you want to take it a step further, bring your right foot slightly to the side, allowing your hip to open up and stretch even more. Stay here for three to five in- and exhales before repeating it all on the other side.

REEHUT Yoga Block

For more stability in poses you find challenging.

Upward Dog to Downward Dog

Yoga sun salutations work the entire body, focusing on your spine but stretching, basically, every muscle along the way.

Start in a plank position, activate your core, and then push the mat away from you. Make sure to keep your hips aligned, not allowing them to drop or pike up. Activate your quadriceps and feel the balls of your feet digging into the ground.

From here, take an in- and exhale as you bend your elbows and come into a push-up position. On your next inhale, push your hips forward and let your torso thread through your arms. Gaze upward, as you open your shoulders and chest.

On your exhale, come out of your backbend, and lift your hips up to go into a downward dog. This is an excellent stretch for your spine, as it moves in all planes, creating space between each vertebra.

Resistance bands

Side Body Stretch

Just like any other muscle group, those in your sides need good stretching, too. This exercise can help you use the power of your legs to stretch your upper body.

Start in a kneeling position and stretch out your left leg to the side. Lift your arms and grab your right wrist with your left palm. Take an inhale and pull your right arm, as you bend toward your left leg.

You’ll feel the stretch on the entire right side of your body, from the iliotibial (IT) band, that runs from the outside of your hip to the outside of your thigh and knee down to the top of your shinbone, to your obliques and chest. Stay here for a few full breaths, and then come back to the center. Then, repeat on the other side.

Seated Twists

Twists are a powerful recovery move because they send new blood rushing through the body, which delivers oxygen to your cells. The seated version is usually the most effective, as it gives you more control, regardless of how flexible your spine might be.

Start in a seated position, with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and grab it with your left hand, crossing it over your body. Place your foot right next to your outer thigh.

Then, place your right hand behind your sit bones. Inhale and slowly turn your head toward the wall behind you. Push the floor away from you and use it as leverage to straighten your spine.

With every inhale, try to grow taller from your sit bones to the crown of your head. With every exhale, try to go a bit deeper into the twist. Hold for three to five long in- and exhales before repeating it all on the other side.

Stretching is one of those things people tend to skip if they’re in a rush. However, it aids your muscle recovery after a workout so they remain optimized and healthy. It also strengthens your joints and tendons. If you add these five stretches to the end of your routine, you can be confident your muscles will always be getting a good cooldown.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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