9 stretching exercises to relax after a busy and hectic day

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Being on your toes all day long can be exhausting. Use these quick and easy stretches to increase the motion, prevent injury, and help you feel energized and focused.

The human body was designed to move. But there are a number of factors which can make your body stiff and sore such as sitting all day at work, working from home, and having a sedentary lifestyle. When it comes to a sedentary lifestyle, sitting tends to get more attention than standing. But standing too long without moving around a whole lot, can bring certain health problems too.

According to a review published in July 2015 in the journal Rehabilitation Nursing, health problems ranging from lower back and leg pain to fatigue and discomfort to cardiovascular problems have all been linked to prolonged standing. Another study published in 2017 in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that those who worked in jobs requiring them to stand most of the time faced twice the risk of heart disease compared to people who sat at work most of the time.

stretching after prolonged standing
Stretch yourself once you are done with your day! Image courtesy: Shuterstock

But the good news is that movements that include dynamic and static stretching can help.

Here’s why you should stretch if you stand on your feet all day long

Yes ladies, whether it’s tension in your feet, tightness in your lower back and hips, or just a feeling of stiffness, stretching can help you unwind after a hectic day.

“Stretching regularly keeps us flexible, relieves cramps, and allows our muscles to work at optimum levels while reducing the chances of injury,” Dr Jayant Arora, Director and Unit Head, Fortis Bone and Joint Institute, Fortis Gurugram, tells HealthShots.

So, do these stretching exercises daily:

1. Toe lifts

This exercise can strengthen your feet and improve your balance.
Here’s how you can do this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, keep your back straight and look forward.
  • Lift your toes up off the ground.
  • Hold the pose for one to two seconds.
  • Continue breathing.
  • Lower your toes.
    Repeat six times, and do three sets a day.

2. Upper body stretch

This exercise is especially beneficial for those who work the whole day sitting in a chair or standing. They tend to suffer from severe back pain throughout their lives. Take short breaks of five minutes every one to two hours and perform this exercise.
Here’s how you can do this exercise:

  • Puff out your chest as much as you can and clasp your hands behind your back.
  • Take deep breaths simultaneously and let go of the anxiety.
  • If you do this regularly, it will work like magic for your stress and your back.

3. Forward bend

It stretches your hip muscles, hamstrings and lower back. These same muscles often feel tight and sore after several hours spent standing at work.
Here’s how you can do this exercise:

  • Begin by standing straight.
  • Drop your head and keep your shoulders and neck relaxed.
  • Try to touch the knees with the forehead.
  • Place palms on either side of your feet.
  • Keep your legs and knees straight throughout the practice and hold this pose for a while.
  • You can do 20 reps and 4 sets.
stretching after prolonged standing
Standing forward bending pose is the simplest thing you can do to stretch yourself. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Relevè

This exercise is designed to strengthen your knee and calf. If you feel any pain, then stop doing the exercise immediately.
Here’s how you can do this exercise:

  • Ensure the surface is stable, so that it’s easy to maintain balance.
  • Stand on your feet, shoulder-width apart, and keep your knees straight.
  • Raise both your heels off the floor, as far as you can go, pushing your whole body up.
  • Slowly return to the floor
  • Repeat six times, and do three sets a day.

Also, read: Avoid these 7 harmful mistakes when you’re stretching to prevent injuries

5. Knee to chest stretch

It is not just great for your gut, but a knee to chest press is also great to relax your hamstrings, glutes, legs, and even your lower back. You can do it either standing or lying down – whatever suits you the best.
Here’s how you can do this exercise:

  • Lie on your back and pull your knees into your chest with both hands.
  • Keep your lower back on the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Also, read: Stretching can calm your stiff joints and muscles in winter

6. Sphinx stretch

This pose stretches the lower back in a gentle way—plus, it engages your abs, buttocks, and legs which further supports the lower back.
Here’s how you can do this exercise:

  • Lie on your stomach with your legs straight out behind you.
  • Place your elbows under your shoulders and your forearms on the floor as you lift your chest up off the floor.
  • Press your hips and thighs into the floor, and think about lengthening your spine while keeping your shoulders relaxed.
  • Sit up just enough to feel a nice stretch in your lower back. Don’t hyperextend, and stop immediately if you start to feel any discomfort or pain.

7. Butterfly stretch

Your lower body muscles also need to loosen up, especially if you start your workout routine with cardio. Butterfly stretches utilise your hip, back, thigh, and pelvic muscles.
Here’s how you can do this exercise:

  • Just sit on the floor, joining the soles of your feet and knees outward.
  • Hold your toes for a better grip and then flutter your knees up and down for 20 to 30 seconds.
stretching after prolonged standing
The butterfly pose can provide you with multiple health benefits! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

8. Standing quad stretch

This one is a runner’s delight, and it helps you to stretch your quads.
Here’s how you can do this exercise:

  • All you need to do is stand straight and bend your knee back, grabbing your ankle with your hand.
  • Repeat it with the other leg.
  • Hold the pose for at least 10 seconds.
  • Take the support of a wall if need be.

9. Deep squat stretch

This pose is an excellent stretch to strengthen your thighs and legs. This pose also helps to release any stiffness in the lower body.
Here’s how you can do this exercise:

  • Stand in a Tadasana while keeping your feet wide apart.
  • Bend your knees to come into a squat position.
  • Try to separate thighs wider than your torso.
  • Place both of your arms on the inside of the bent knees while inclining forward.
  • Fold hands together in front of your heart in Anjali mudra (Namaskar Mudra).

So ladies, don’t let standing and sitting at work all day make your body stiff and sore. Just practice these stretching exercises regularly to feel energetic.

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