10 Super-Easy Daily Stretches
By Steve Edwards
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
The best Mother's Day gift
anyone could receive would be better health. Most of us are aware of what we
can do, but dedicating your life to exercise and healthy eating is easier said
than done. Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. Here's a quick
way to feel great that's so easy you won't even know you're exercising. Happy
Mother's Day! (By the way, this routine is helpful for anyone, not just
Before we get
started, let's talk a bit about "stretching." Generally, you hear that you need
to warm up first. This is true. So, in theory, these are not stretches but
exercises that help stretch you out. You don't need to warm up first. In fact,
they are a warm-up themselves, as they'll prep your body for the rigors of each
- Foot manipulations.
This one won't even feel like an exercise, but can help
you walk pain free and, if you spend a lot of time on your feet, it will
decrease your chances of developing plantar fasciitis. Each morning, before you
get out of bed, rotate your feet in a circle 10 times in each direction. Then
flex your foot up and down, pointing your toes and pulling them up. The first
step of your morning can be the most damaging to your feet. If you've done this
exercise first, you're ready to start the day.
- Cat stretch.
Don't confuse this one with the yoga pose; it's much more
basic than that. This is the stretch your cat does after it's been napping. You
can do this in bed, while standing, or both. Simply extend your arms over your
head and stretch your body as far as possible, pointing your toes and
straightening your fingers. It feels good anytime during the day, too,
especially if you've been sitting around.
- Dog stretch.
This one is exactly like the yoga pose. A quick Sun
Salutation or two, or at least the Downward and Upward Dog parts, are a great
way to begin your day. Hey, it works for Fido. If you don't know this move,
here it is:
hold these positions as long as you're comfortable and move back and forth
between the two. One repetition of each is much better than nothing. It will
help your body loosen up, regulate your breathing, and invigorate you.
- Downward Dog. Place your hands and
feet on the ground as if you're doing a push-up, but with your feet a bit
closer to your hands. Now raise your body into an upside down V. Keep your
hands flat and your heels as low to the ground as you can. Flatten your back
and push your hips to the sky.
Dog. Copy your dog's morning routine. From the
Downward Dog position, drop your hips toward the floor, arch your back, and
lift your head to the sky. You can also move slightly forward, moving off of
your toes and onto the tops of your feet.
- Calf stretch.
From the Downward Dog position, move one knee forward and
push the opposite heel toward the ground. Switch your legs back and forth a few
times. These foot manipulations help reduce your chances of ever walking in
- Stars. A client friend of mine came up with
this move's name. I have no idea why. For this "exercise," simply open your
hand as wide as possible (so it looks like a star, maybe) and close it into a
fist. Concentrate on fully extending the fingers. You can do these anytime
during the day, as many repetitions as you have time for. It may not seem like
much, but this exercise will greatly reduce your chance of developing carpal
- Finger/forearm stretch. Extend your arm
straight in front of you. With the other arm, grab your fingers and stretch
them back toward your body. Do this with your arm facing up, down, and inward.
This completes your "no carpal tunnel for me" daily session. For an added
stretch, interlock your fingers and push your hands away from your body. This
also stretches the shoulders and back.
stretch. Here's one you can do anytime you're standing
around. Lift one foot and grab it behind you, pulling it up behind your butt.
Now stand straight and tall and arch your back. This mainly stretches your quad
(front of your leg), but also stretches your shoulders, chest, back and arms,
especially if you move around to specifically address these areas. You can lean
forward, pull your other arm behind you, and pull your shoulder blades
together. There are more intense stretches for your quads, but this is one you
can do pretty much anywhere and without warming up.
This is generally called a "forward hamstring stretch,"
but in this version you don't concentrate on the "stretch" aspect, just the
hang. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly
bent, then bend forward at the waist and hang down. Once you're hanging, you
may fold your arms over your head and straighten and/or widen your legs for a
greater range of motion, but if you aren't warmed up, just let gravity provide
all of the force. Hang and breathe calmly for as long as you
The leg-up is more than a popular blocking technique for
male actors in films of the '40s and '50s; it's also the easiest way to loosen
up the muscles in your waist region. To begin, pretend you're Tyrone Power
discussing his case with the boys in Witness for the Prosecution (but
feel free to lose the cigarette), and prop your leg up on anything convenient.
To turn this simple act into a stretch, simply lower your torso (it helps to
start in an exaggerated wide leg-up) by bending the knee. You can add more
elements by twisting at your waist. To add a hamstring element, straighten the
bent leg and continue to lean forward.
stretch. This is like the cat stretch, only done standing
and bending sideways, making somewhat of a bow out of your body. Begin standing
tall with your arms overhead. Drop one arm down along your side and bend in
that direction, stretching with the upper arm. Keep your head looking up toward
the upper arm. Repeat, stretching your other side.