Add 30 Minutes of Stretching to Your Workout Routine

When you’re go, go, go for many days in a row, it takes a toll on your body. Whether you ran the marathon yesterday or simply stayed up late too many nights last week, pause and ask yourself:

Do I need a break?

It doesn’t have to take up a full day. It doesn’t have to break your bank. Just 30 minutes of stretching has incredible benefits for your mind and body.

In September we hosted #Sweatworking at Yoga Six with three Deep Stretch classes geared toward runners. We came up with a few key takeaways from those classes that you can use on your own when you’re short on time and can’t (or don’t want to) take a full class.

These key postures should be held for a minimum of 10 breaths – or about 30 seconds – but feel free to stay in them as long as you’ve got the time. Repeat them as needed, add in extra variations and adjust into deeper versions of the posture as your body warms up to each pose throughout the stretch.

Here are your nine postures to remember:

1. Downward Facing Dog (knees bent modification): Bend your knees in order to straighten your spine. Keep your core engaged and shoulders pulling away from your ears. Only straighten your legs if you can keep your torso and arms in alignment.

2. Forward Fold: Use a block or something else underneath your hands to bring the ground to you. Bend your knees to stack your hips over ankles. Relax your head.

3. Halfway Lift: Use the block and keep your knees bent if needed to lengthen your chest forward. Your neck stays in line with your spine. Keep your core engaged, shoulders away from your ears and weight in the balls of your feet.

4. Halfway Lift with a Twist: For an IT Band stretch, place your right hand on a block and bend your right leg. Your left hand goes to your hip as you twist to the left. To add a deeper twist, extend your left arm up (as pictured). Inhale to lengthen, exhale to twist deeper. Repeat this stretch on the other leg.

5. Lizard (with blocks): A hip-flexer and outer hip stretch all at once, keep your abs engaged to guide the hip that’s closer to the ground further down. Option to place your forearms on blocks and to peel your front foot open so that it rests on its blade edge.

6. Lizard with a Twist: To get an even deeper hip flexer and psoas stretch and to add a quad stretch to lizard, use a strap or another looped item to pull your flexed left foot toward the glute, maintaining the twist. If grabbing the foot is not available, you can still start to bend the left leg and flex your foot.

7. Seated Tree Pose and Fold: Start by sitting up tall, pressing one foot into your thigh. Flex all 10 toes of extended leg and then twist your body towards that leg. As you fold, loop a strap around the extended foot. Keep your knees as bent as you need to keep your spine long.

8. Half Pigeon: Place a bolster or pillow in front of you. Place one shin in front of the bolster and rest your hip on the bolster. Flex your foot to protect your knee. Actively draw the front hip back. You can walk your hands forward and rest forearms on a block on the floor.

9. Legs Up the Wall: Scoot your butt up against the wall and lift your legs. Let blood circulate the other way in your legs. Getting upside down helps speed up recovery and give your muscles a true rest. Place a bolster underneath your low back for more comfort.


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About Maggie Umberger

Maggie moved to Chicago from North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, a 200-hour yoga certification, a group fitness cert and a passion to teach and to sweat. It wasn't until she found aSweatLife that she really started to feel at home. Here, she's incorporated her passion for health and wellness into her career as she helps to build the network of Ambassadors, trainers and fitness enthusiasts that exist within the aSweatLife ecosystem. You can also find her coaching at CrossTown Fitness and teaching yoga classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga, Yoga Six and exhale.