Whether you wake up feeling stiff or sitting all day at work leaves you sore and achy, taking 15 minutes to stretch every day can help ease some of these pains. If you already practice yoga, you can work some of these moves into your routine, but you don’t need to be a master yogi to put these five stretches to work. Not only will you get some immediate relief by performing these moves, but after you’ve been at it for a while you may find that you’re not as achy when you roll out of bed or get home from work.
You can lay down a yoga mat if you want, but a towel, blanket or carpet will suffice to give you a bit of a buffer from the hard floor as you work your way through these five moves to ease back pain.
Half and full happy baby
The name really says it all about these two simple yoga moves. To achieve that child-like sense of joy, lay on your back with your legs stretched out straight. For half happy baby, hug your left knee into your chest, then slowly extend your foot up toward the ceiling, grabbing the sole with your left hand. Ease your knee down toward your armpit as far as you can. Hold the move for at least five seconds and release. Repeat on the right side. Make sure to keep the opposing leg flat on the floor, and plant your shoulders squarely down. Your other arm can stay at your side or come out perpendicular to your body. Full happy baby simply involves doing this move with both legs at the same time. Cycle through all three a few times to thoroughly stretch your lower back and hamstrings.
Don’t come completely out of that happy baby pose. With your knees still hugged in toward your chest, let them drop to one side of your body. Your hips will lift, but your torso and shoulders should stay firmly planted on the ground. Try to keep your knees together, but whichever is lower should be touching the ground. Extend your arms out in a T-shape and breathe into the stretch. To go even deeper, turn your head to face the opposite direction. Repeat this move on the other side.
You don’t need to contort your body like a circus performer to reap all the healing benefits of stretches. This approach, touted by the Mayo Clinic, is so subtle you’ll be surprised it’s even working. Lying on the ground, plant your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. Then, tilt your pubic bone toward your feet, keeping your shoulders on the ground. The source stated that it should feel as though your pelvis is pointing toward your feet. Hold this position for five seconds and let your pelvic bone drop back to the floor, but this time, flatten your back as best you can, pulling the pubic bone up toward your head. Hold for five seconds, relax, and repeat the whole process over again.
Cat stretch fever
For this animalistic move, you’ll need to get on your hands and knees. Position your hands so they line up with your shoulders, and keep your knees at hip-width apart. Let your belly drop so your spine curves down toward the floor, and then reverse the position, arching your back toward the ceiling. Athletico recommended holding each position for five to 20 seconds – this will help extend and flex your back.
For all of these moves, it’s important to find a comfortable position. If it feels like a pose is pushing you a bit too far, ease it back a bit until it doesn’t hurt but you can still feel the stretch}. Overextending yourself can result in injury, so listen to your body. Over time, you’ll grow more flexible and be able to go deeper.