Stretching is more important than you think. Just like drinking water, you need to do it, but chances are you don't do it enough.
According to stretching expert Beret Kirkeby, orthopedic manual therapist and owner of Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage in New York City, here are three main stretches you need to do every day.
1. The Hump Stretch
Your job probably requires you to hunch over a computer all day. It shortens the muscles in front of your neck and chest, thus making your back extra round.
The Fix: Clasp your hands behind your back and slowly raise them behind you until you cannot lift them anymore. You will feel a gentle pull across your chest. Take a deep breath, gently drop your head back and repeat three times.
2. The Spinal Tap Stretch
You feel great in the morning, but as the day goes on, you tend to feel more down. It's because the tissue between the disks in your spine compresses, and you actually shrink a wee bit by the end of the day, which makes you feel less functional.
The Fix: Stand feet apart and fold your upper body down toward your feet, keeping your knees slightly bent for safety purposes. Slowly straighten your legs and let your arms hang towards the floor. Swing your arms and head back and forth for 30 seconds to one minute, then slowly roll your spine up, one vertebrae at a time. Repeat one more time.
3. The Lunge Stretch
You spend most of the day sitting down at a desk, which is bad for your psoas (a muscle located deep in your stomach on the front part of your spine that helps you lift your leg higher). Sitting shortens your psoas, so it doesn't function as well.
The Fix: Kneel on the floor in a lunge position. Put your hands on your hips, and slowly pull your hips forward, keeping them square. You should feel a deep pull in the front part of your back leg, and in your lower stomach. Hold for 30 seconds, breathe deeply, and then relax. Switch sides and repeat.
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