If the only kind of stretching on your radar is that grab-the-back-of-your-chair-and-twist thing, we need to talk. That move isn’t doing a damn thing, says Kayla Itsines, certified personal trainer and co-creator of the BBG workout on the SWEAT app.
“When you’re twisting, you’re trying to crack your lower back and ease the tightness,” says Itsines, who just launched her first BBG beginner program. “But the reason your lower back hurts is because your glutes and hamstrings are tense.” And that twisty motion is basically doing nothing.
So if your lower back, upper back, and shoulders are feeling some type of way before you even hit your lunch hour, start your day with these six stretches that will get you loose and ready for the next 8 hours in less than 10 minutes.
Rise and shine.
1. Seated Figure Four
Begin in a seated position on a yoga mat with your legs out in front of you and your feet planted on the mat. Press your hands and feet into the floor to elevate your hips, then lift your right leg to place your ankle on your left leg just above your knee. Slowly lower your hips to return to a seated position. Hold this position for 80 seconds, breathing deeply throughout. Repeat this stretch on the other side.
While seated on a yoga mat, extend both legs out in front of you. Lift and turn out your left leg so that your foot is resting against the inside of your right leg. Bending from the hips, reach for your right foot with your right hand. If you can reach your toe, gently pull it back towards you. To increase the stretch, attempt to lower your torso towards your left leg, once again ensuring that you are bending from the hips. Hold this position for 40 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
While seated on a yoga mat, extend both legs out in front of you. Move both legs outward as wide as they can go. Sit up tall and place both hands on the floor in front of you. Bending from the hips and keeping both hands on the floor, reach as far forward as possible. Each time that you exhale, walk your hands out a little further to gradually increase the stretch. Hold this position for 40 seconds.
4. Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch
Start on your knees and step your left foot forward, ensuring your knee doesn’t pass your toes. Press your hips forward, still keeping your knees behind your toes. Keeping your torso upright, use your right hand to reach for your right foot, so your knee is bent at a 45-degree angle. Hold this position for 40 seconds, breathing deeply throughout. Repeat this stretch on the other side.
5. Downward Dog
Place both hands on the mat slightly further than shoulder-width apart, feet together on the mat behind you while resting on the balls of your feet in a push-up position. While maintaining a neutral spine and stabilizing through your abdominals, elevate your hips to create an inverted V. With knees slightly bent, press your heels into the mat and tilt your tailbone upwards. Create space between your shoulders and ears by drawing your shoulder blades down and back. Hold this position for 40 seconds.
6. Chest Stretch
Kneel on the floor and bring your hands together behind your body, interlocking your fingers. Gently extend your arms and pull your hands away from your body. This should cause your shoulders to retract and open up your chest. Hold this position for 40 seconds.