You may not realize it, but bedtime is the perfect time to stretch and relax your body. With just a handful of stretches, you can unwind from the day – not to mention limber yourself up and sleep better at night.
Here’s six stretches to try before you catch some 💤:
Seated Half Twist
The seated half twist can improve spinal flexibility and is said to aid digestion and improve blood flow. Begin seated with legs outstretched together. Bend your right knee and place your right foot outside your left thigh. Turn your torso to the right and place your right hand on the ground. Wrap your left arm around your right leg. Inhale deeply to lengthen your spine, then use your arm pressing to your thigh to twist on the exhale. Keep this breathing pattern for at least three deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Upward Facing Dog
Upward facing dog opens the chest and strengthens the upper body. From table pose, slowly drop your hips toward the floor. Press your palms flat to the floor, drop your shoulders down and back, press the chest forward and lift the crown of your head toward the ceiling. If you can, lift your thighs and legs off the floor by pressing down on the tops of your feet. Hold for one to three breaths, then bend the knees and lift the hips back into table position.
One-Legged Downward-Facing Dog
This variation on downward dog opens the hips, stretches the thighs and strengthens your core, shoulders, and arms. Begin in classic downward-facing dog, then lift one leg off the ground and extend it upward. Keep your gaze between your legs as you do. Hold for one to three breaths, then relax and switch sides.
Butterfly is a classic pose that strengthens and opens the hips and helps with abdominal discomfort. Start from a seated position and bend your knees, then bring the soles of your feet together. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as far as you can without feeling pain or pressure in the knees. Push the outer edges of your feet firmly into the floor and wrap your hands around your feet or ankles. Gently work your knees toward the floor (don’t force them down!). Hold for 12-30 breaths, then bring your knees together to complete.
Seated Forward Bend
Stretch the spine, shoulders and hamstrings with seated forward bend. Start in staff pose: seated with legs stretched together in front of you. Inhale, and draw your arms up over your head. On the exhale, lower your torso toward the legs hinging at the hips. Reach your hands to your toes, feet, or ankles. Breathe, and hold the pose for 3-8 breathes, then slowly roll up the spine to return to staff pose.
Supine twist will wind down your pre-bedtime routine by stretching the back muscles in a relaxing pose. While lying on your back, stretch your arms out to either side, palms down. Bend the right knee and place your right foot on the left knee. Exhale, drop the right knee over to the left side of your body, twisting your spine and lower back. Look at your right finger tips. With your shoulders flat to the floor, close your eyes, and relax. Let gravity pull your knee down for you. Breathe, and hold for 6 to 8 breaths. Then inhale and roll the hips back to the floor, and exhale the leg back down to the floor. Repeat on the other side, and you’re done!
Got any questions about other stretches that can help you sleep better at night? Come in to your local Fitness Connection. We’d love to answer your questions and help you get the most out of your fitness journey.