After a long day of work, running errands, jumping from one place to another, traffic jams, and other daily activities, our body is tense, stiff, and in desperate need of some serious stretching.
Stretching improves our blood flow, breaks down lactic acid building up in our muscles, improves our digestion and energy flow, activates our parasympathetic nervous system, and aids in overall recovery. It’s especially recommended to perform specific movements before going to sleep as they help us relax and get into a rest-and-digest mode. This, in turn, can make our sleep deeper, longer, and of much better quality. Check out these six stretches everyone should end their day with!
Stretching out the lower back, hamstrings, and calves helps alleviate the tension and stiffness from sitting in our car and at the office all day long. Go easy on this stretch as it can be pretty intense, and modify by bending the knees if necessary.
Use inhales to elongate the spine and exhales to go a little bit deeper into the fold. After five breath cycles, let your upper body simply hang over your legs, allowing gravity do its thing and passively stretch you out for a minute longer.
Seated Forward Fold
Using this stretch to focus on one leg at-a-time lets us tune in to our own imbalance. Everyone has one leg that’s more flexible than the other and one hip that’s more open than the other, and that’s totally fine!
Breathing into the stretch and making sure we’re maximizing our time in this pose will help us relax the muscle fibers and increase blood flow. Take your time with each side, allowing at least five full breath cycles before switching over.
Downward Facing Dog
Although it doesn’t seem evident at first, downward-facing dog is actually an inversion, and inversions are crucial to unwinding and activating our parasympathetic nervous system. Before going “all in,” stretching out the spine and preparing the neck for a couple more inversions is the way to go.
Use your palms and feet to move around gently, stretching out the hips and hamstrings. “Walk your dog” by alternating when bending the knees, move the hips left and right, come high on the balls of the feet and lower the heels towards the floor stretching out 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 helps with water retention, bloating, digestion, and blood flow. Supporting the pelvis and allowing it to rest in your arms completely is the ultimate lower back release. Breathe into the stretch and relax your head and neck. Try staying in this pose for at least one minute, if not a bit longer.
One of everyone’s absolute favorite stretches, child’s pose releases the hips, sacrum, and the entire back without any struggle or discomfort. By widening the knees a bit more, we’re able to go deeper and let our upper body fall in between our hips.
Usually, being super stiff after the whole day, we get into child’s pose with pretty narrow hip width, and as we breathe deeper and deeper, and relax more and more into the stretch, we can feel our knees getting wider and our torso sinking in. Stretch out your arms in front of you, making sure your shoulders stay away from your ears. Walk your fingers further and further, and feel your torso being pulled away from your hips.
This is a perfect stretch to do in bed, right before you drift off. Bring your knees to your chest and extend one leg while keeping the other tight. Slowly grab the knee and twist it to the side. Stay here or extend the leg, stretching it fully. The final expression is bending the lower leg and grabbing the foot. Make sure to use your breath to go deeper and twist more, but only to the extent of feeling 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, bring both knees to your chest to reset before twisting to the other side.
Twists are fantastic because they detox our spines, rinsing them out from the day we had and sending fresh blood, oxygen, and energy into our every cell, preparing us to rest and refuel for the following day.
We live in a crazy-paced world where we’re always doing something, going somewhere, sitting too much, and we’re not even aware of how much our bodies have to go through. Everything we do is really taxing on our muscles, skeletal system, and our nerves. It’s no wonder that so many of us have chronic back pains, headaches, and difficulties sleeping. By implementing these stretching routines before bed, we’re able to diminish a bit of our day’s hard impacts on our bodies and recharge our batteries to do everything all over again the following day.