After a long day of work, running errands, and traffic jams, your body is likely tense and stiff. That’s why these stretches are the perfect way to end your day!
Stretching improves blood flow and breaks down lactic acid buildup in muscles. It also improves digestion and energy flow, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and aids in overall recovery.
It’s especially good to perform specific movements before you go to sleep, as they’ll help you relax and get into rest-and-digest mode. This can help you sleep deeper and longer.
And hey, don’t limit yourself to just stretching at the end of the day. Good stretching habits can help all day long so be sure to start the day with some stretches and sneak in some stretches at your desk too. For targeting muscles in a deep hurts-so-good kind of way, it’s tough to beat incorporating a foam roller into your routine too!
Stretching the lower back, hamstrings, and calves helps alleviate any tension and stiffness from sitting in a car or at a desk all day. Go easy on this stretch, though; it can be pretty intense, but you can modify by bending your knees, if necessary.
Use inhales to elongate the spine and exhales to go a little bit deeper into the fold. After five breath cycles, allow your upper body to simply hang over your legs. Let gravity do its thing and passively stretch you out for a minute longer.
Use this stretch to focus on one leg at a time and tune into any imbalance. Everyone has one leg that’s more flexible than the other and one hip that’s more open than the other.
Breathe into the stretch and maximize your time in this pose to relax your muscle fibers and increase blood flow. Take your time with each leg, allowing at least five full breath cycles before switching.
Although it might not be evident at first, downward-facing dog is actually a type of inversion which are crucial to unwinding and activating your parasympathetic nervous system. Before going all-in on this pose, stretch out your spine and prepare your neck for a few more inversions.
Use your palms and feet to move around gently, stretching out your hips and hamstrings. Then, “walk your dog” by alternating when bending the knees. Move your hips left and right. Come up high on the balls of your feet and lower your heels toward the floor to stretch the Achilles tendons.
Move as long as you want, but don’t make it too short. A good trick is to put on a good, chill-out song and use half of it to play with this pose.
This is probably the best pose for relaxation and preparing you for dreamland. It’s also the ultimate stretch for lower-back release. It’ll help you with water retention, bloating, digestion, and blood flow, as well. After being on your feet all day this pose relieves fluid pressure in your lower body and is a great, and free, way to pamper your feet.
Support your pelvis and allow it to rest on your arms completely. Breathe into the stretch, and relax your head and neck. Try to stay in this pose for at least a minute or a bit longer.
Many folks absolutely love child’s pose. It releases the hips, sacrum, and entire back without any struggle or discomfort. By widening your knees a bit more, you can bend deeper and allow your upper body to fall between your hips.
If you’re super stiff, you might start your child’s pose with pretty narrow hip spread and knee placement. As you breathe deeper and relax more into the pose, you’ll feel your knees getting wider and your torso sinking farther.
Stretch out your arms in front of you, making sure your shoulders stay away from your ears. Walk your fingers further forward and feel your torso being pulled away from your hips.
A yoga mat isn’t a requirement for the pose, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have one. It can help you grip better (stretching further) in the process. With a mat, you can also skip smooshing your face into your carpet when you get really deep into the stretch.
This is the perfect stretch to do in bed, right before you drift off. Bring your knees to your chest, and then extend one leg while keeping the other tight. Slowly grab your knee and twist it to the side. You can stay here or extend your leg to stretch it fully.
The final expression is bending the lower leg and grabbing your foot. Use your breath to go deeper and twist more, but only to the extent that it feels good—don’t go deeper if you feel any pain or your breathing gets shallow.
Slowly, come back to center the same way you entered the pose and bring both knees to your chest to reset before twisting to the other side.
Twists are fantastic for detoxing your spine and sending fresh blood, oxygen, and energy to every cell. They also help you prepare for rest.
We live in such a crazy, fast-paced world, it’s no wonder so many of us have chronic back pain, headaches, and insomnia. But if you implement a stretching routine before bedtime, you can diminish some of the toll each day takes on your body. It’ll also help you sleep deeply and recharge your batteries so you can do it all over again tomorrow.