Moving through your day with ease requires a number of things; clear intentions, a kind and compassionate mind, food and fluid for fuel, and, a comfortable body.
I hope this blog post helps you to address at least one of these.
I believe that if there’s one thing that keeps us feeling young, it’s ease of movement - pain-free, full mobility.
Having smoothly gliding joints and muscles that allow us to spring up from the floor, move around with ease, play about and enjoy life in our bodies - that’s priceless!
And yet SOOO many of us neglect it.
I certainly did. Were it not for those horrendous stretch sessions within my dance classes when younger, I wonder what my incredibly (and incredible) active childhood would have done to my body. So whilst I was the girl reaching for her knees as all the other dancers basically had their noses’ on the floor, at least THEN I was giving my body a little TLC!
My return to stretching over a decade later and my battle with my lead-like limbs is another story for another time, but I wanted to get started today but sharing a few of the basic stretches that helped me shift my rigid body into something that surprised me with it’s capacity for mobility and ‘bendyness’.
So here are 5 of my ‘go-to’ stretches, to ease my body and mobilise my joints. Details on when and how to perform these are below. I hope you enjoy them!
WHEN TO DO THEM
When I first wrote the title for this post, it read ‘Do these to energise your morning’.
So is first thing the ideal time?
Setting injury-specific advice aside, yes, I do believe doing these first thing in your morning will ease your body and mind into a more energetic day.
Sadly, with Maxwell as my alarm clock, continuing my blissful routine of waking to a stretch, meditation and morning mantra, has thus far proven impossible or totally impractical.
The reality is I have to find other times in my often haphazard days to get the bits in for myself that I know keep me topped-up and feeling good.
So to say these are to be done immediately upon rising from your slumber, well, that would automatically exclude me from participating (sniff sniff) and also make me a huge hypocrite (boooo).
Instead, I say quite simply - JUST DO THEM!
Do them every day or as often as you can, and do them at whatever time you can. Find a way to fit them into your day despite its haphazard glory.
It will take less than 10 minutes of your time and I can tell you now, your body, your movement, your youthfulness, and most likely your mind, will feel sooo much better for it.
A couple of tips that might make this easier;
Don’t make it a bigger task in your mind than it is.
If possible, try to do it at the same time each day so it more readily becomes a habit. (Yes, as soon as you’ve rolled out of bed is ideal, but every evening in front of the TV is also great.)
Personally, I am going to first TRY to move through these simple mobilisations and stretches in the morning when Max is playing on his mat with his toys before his breakfast. If this fails (highly possible now he’s on the move), I’ll rethink and find another window for me to give my stiff ol’ body a bit of a wiggle in the morning.
HOW TO DO THEM
A super mobiliser for the spine. Enjoy this stretch as tuck your chin, lifting between the shoulder blades and then feel the body opening across the front of your chest as you arch your back and push forward between your collar bones. Focus your attention to movement through the mid-back so as to not stress the lumbar spine (low back). To avoid compression in the lower back when arching it, maintain a gentle contraction of your lower abdominals throughout. Feel free to wriggle around in this one - I love it! Repeat as many times as feels good.
A great mobilisation for the hips and a stretch for the hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexors. Use a cushion to pad under the stabilising knee if necessary. Engage your lower abdominals throughout so you avoid over-arching the lower back. Stretch tall, maintaining a nice neutral spine (no bend or arch) )as your hips sink into each pose. I personally like to hold each phase for a couple of breaths before moving to the next phase but take it at your own pace and repeat as many times as feels good. Perform both sides.
KNEE TO CHEST
Your pelvis and hips will love this and those hip flexors most likely will get a good stretch too! Use your hands to gently pull one knee (or, if knee issues, pull the back of the thigh) in towards the shoulder on the same side, compressing through the hip. The bottom leg stretches out staying as straight as possible on the floor. Use your breath to relax into this stretch. Alternate from side to side, pausing for a few breaths within each stretch, until things start to loosen off.
Time to loosen off those buttocks! Place your left ankle above your right knee and keeping the left ankle flexed, gently use your arms to pull the right leg towards your right shoulder. You should feel the stretch in your left buttocks. Pushing your left knee away from you will challenge the left hip joint too. Hold for a few deep breaths and then switch sides. Repeat as feels right.
Another lovely one to mobilise the mid and lower back, but please ease yourself into this one gently. Twists can be stressful to a vertebral disc injury, so seek further professional advice should you have any concerns. Otherwise, lying on your back, arms out to the sides, knees bent up, slowly lower your knees to one side, keeping the top knee aligned (stacked on top of) the bottom knee. You can either hold this for a few breaths before changing sides, or gently and slowly alternate between the two.
A FEW GENERAL NOTES
Feel free to wiggle gently within each stretch to help loosen things up, but don’t bounce heavily as this could risk a nasty pull.
Use your breath to relax you into each pose. Feel your rib cage expanding with every deep breath and those tight joints and muscles ‘giving’ a bit with with every exhale.
If suffering from an injury or issue please consult a health professional for more personalised guidance.
ENJOY! Be kind to your body as your work through those morning aches and tension. Praise yourself for showing up and giving your body a little TLC today. Admire your body for being able to do what it can and trust that with consistency that capacity for mobility and ease will most likely grow.
So much love,