Best stretching exercises to stay fit at home

by Dr. Anoop Thomas

Stretches are required to improve flexibility and improve the tone of the muscle. Each stretch needs to be held for 15-30 seconds each. Do not hold breath when stretching, try to take deep breaths on each stretch. It should not cause pain, if pain presents please stop the stretch at once. There are many stretches which can be done but these 5 stretches target specific muscles which help maintain flexibility and prevent aches and pains after prolonged online meetings and working in kitchen during a prolonged period at home.

Piriformis stretch lying down

Lie on the back with both knees bent. Pull the left knee up to the chest, grasp the knee with right hand and pull it towards the right shoulder and hold stretch for 10-15 secs. Repeat for each side – this stretch targets the piriformis muscle which gets very tight after prolonged sitting and can cause pain to the back.

Hamstring stretch

Sit on the floor with both legs out straight, extend your arms and reach forward as much as possible without bending the knee. Pain should not be felt in this stretch. Hamstring tightness is one of the leading causes of back pain and prolonged sitting and standing causes its tightness.

Calf stretch (Heel drop stretch)

Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of the step. Drop one leg hanging free, while the other heel to be dropped down with knee straight thus stretching the calf. This has to be held for 15-30 seconds. Another similar stretch is with knee bent and drop the heel, this targets the soleus muscle of the calf. This stretch targets the calf muscles, which when it becomes very tight can cause foot pain and heel pain.

Neck stretch

While sitting, turn the neck to 45 degrees on to right side and with right hand hold opposite end of head and press gently downwards. Hold the stretch and repeat on opposite side. Sitting in online meetings can cause tightness of neck which can lead to neck pain.

World’s greatest stretch

Step forward with right leg into a lunge. As one goes down, place the left hand on the floor so it’s even with the right foot. Move the right elbow inside the right foot, and rest it on the floor. Stretch will be felt on squaring the hips, and try to keep the back as flat as possible. Move the right hand outside the right foot, and twist to reach for the sky. As told in the name one of the best stretches to be done, it targets different parts of the body in a single stretch. Hold each section of the stretch for few seconds and take deep breaths. This stretch helps in mobility and relieves tightness near the hips and thoracic spinal region which gets tight on sitting in meeting or doing household works.

Chest and shoulder stretch

This may be done while seated or standing. Put your hands behind your head in an interlaced fashion with your elbows bent. Gently bend your elbows backward while fusing your shoulder blades. To target different areas of your shoulders and chest, you can raise your hands to the top of your head or a few inches above it.

Side lunge stretch

Keep your legs apart and your upper body straight. Then slowly "lunge" your weight to the side over your bent knee (not forward, as in a typical lunge). As you shift your weight to the side of your knee that is bent, you should feel a stretch along the inner thigh of the opposing leg, which should be straight. On each side, try to hold it for 20 to 30 seconds.

Standing quad stretch

With your legs approximately shoulder-width apart, stance behind a chair. For balance, place one hand on the chair. Keep your bent knee pointing straight down to the floor while lifting your foot behind you on the other side and grabbing it with your free hand. Avoid leaning forward and avoid locking the knee of the leg that is supporting you. Till the thigh stretches, gently pull on the leg. For 10 to 30 seconds, hold it.

Glute bridge

Your hip flexors are stretched by this. Your feet should be roughly hip-width apart on the floor while you lay on your back with your knees bent. To assist flatten your back and avoid overstretching, gently tighten the muscles in your stomach. Then lift your hips toward the sky while contracting your butt (glute) muscles. Hold for a short while, then do it again.

Butterfly Stretch

This one opens up your hips, knees, inner thighs, and groyne. Put your feet together so that the soles meet and take a seat on the floor or a mat. Bend your knees in opposing directions. Holding onto your feet with a straight back, slowly bend forward and gently press your thighs down with your elbows until you feel a stretch down the inside of your thighs. For 15 to 30 seconds, hold.

Cobra stretch

Your back and abdominal muscles will be stretched. Your hands should be flat on the floor in front of your shoulders while you lay on your stomach. Point your toes and extend your legs behind you. Lift your chest and press your hips into the ground as you exhale. Be careful not to raise your hips by extending your arms too much. For 15 to 30 seconds, maintain the posture.

Standing hip flexor stretch

If you run or spend a lot of time sitting down, your hip flexors, the muscles that assist you lift your knees and bend your waist, may get stiff. Keep one leg straight or slightly bent and extend it backward. Try to maintain a straight spine and an erect torso. When you begin to feel a stretch on the inner of your back leg, lower your tailbone toward the floor and tuck your butt forward. After holding for 20 to 30 seconds, swap legs.

Standing hamstring stretch

Find something to grip for balance while standing. Set one leg that has been straightened up on a block or step. To feel a mild stretch at the back of the lifted leg's thigh, bend the opposing knee just enough (not past your toes). If you require extra stretch, slant slightly forward from your hips. Without bouncing, move gently and evenly. Switch legs after holding it for 20 to 30 seconds.

Laying knee to chest stretch

This one targets your lower back, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps. When your lower back starts to ache, gently draw one leg toward your chest while lying on your back. If you are experiencing low back pain, keep the opposite leg bent. Otherwise, go with your most comfortable option. By bringing the back of your knee toward the floor while standing straight, you may increase the stretch. 30 seconds into holding it, swap legs.

Sideways neck stretch

Place your feet hip-width apart as you stand. Pull your shoulders back and contract your stomach. Slowly bend your ear toward the shoulder on the same side while tilting your head slightly forward until you feel a stretch. Hold it for around 10 seconds before gently raising your head to perform the opposite side. By gradually pulling your head downward with the hand on the tilting side, you may lengthen the stretch.

In case of history of back pain or neck pain, kindly obtain clearance from your doctor before practicing these stretches or book an appointment at the best orthopedic hospital in India for detailed tips.

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