As we get back into routine following a long hot summer, it is more important than ever to take a breather and check in on our physical health. Incorporating full body stretches into your day promotes blood circulation, helps relieve tension and gives you a boost in endorphins, which helps you to sleep better and reduce stress.
Cristina Chan, face of F45 Recovery, shares her top tips to stretch your muscles so that your body feels relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep.
Target areas: Shoulders, Core, Hamstrings
Give your body time to wind down and prepare for bed with this full body stretch that works to lessen lower back stress.
Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Hinging from your hips, reach down and place your hands flat on the floor in front of your feet. Next, shift your weight onto your hands and begin walking yourself forward into a high plank position. Engage your core and keep your hands directly under your shoulders. Walk hands backwards and return to the starting position. Repeat two or three rounds of 45 seconds.
Standing Alternating Figure Four Stretch
Target areas: glutes, hips, quad, back, shoulders
Try this figure four stretch to promote blood circulation, whilst relieving tension before bed.
Stand at arms’ length in front of a chair, table, railing, banister, or similarly sturdy object. Cross your right foot over your left thigh, slightly above the knee. Hinge at your hip and bend your left knee into a single-leg squat position. You’ll feel a stretch in your right glute and your left ankle. Extend your arms straight out in front of you and hold onto the chair. Let your chest drop as you look down at the floor. You’ll feel a stretch along your shoulders and upper back. Hold for at least 5 seconds and then alternate to the opposite leg, repeat for time.
Target areas: Shoulders, Chest, Back
Give your arms and back a break from typing and scrolling with some arm circles.
To relax your upper body, simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms out to the side, parallel with the floor. Circle your arms forward using small, controlled movements. Gradually increase the size of the circles until you feel a stretch. Then, reverse the direction of your circles for an equal count.
Standing Windmill Toe Touch Stretch
Target areas: Hamstrings, Back
Put a spin on the classic standing toe-touch and rotate your torso for extra core strengthening and spinal decompression.
Stand shoulder-width apart with arms extended at shoulder-height. Twist your body and touch your opposite toes with your opposite hand. Alternate both sides for an equal count.
This dynamic stretch introduces active movements to maintain smooth joint motions while working on total-body stability.
Standing Alternating Quad Stretch
Target areas: Quads, Hips
Great for grounding yourself, this simple stretch can be done standing or lying sideways. The latter is recommended for individuals facing knee pain as it reduces the weight placed on the other knee.
To carry out this stretch, stand on your left leg, one knee touching the other. You can hold a chair or the wall to keep you steady if needed. Grab your right foot, using your right hand, and pull it towards your glutes. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds, then repeat, switching from your left leg to your right.