Regular stretching is essential for healthy muscles and maintaining range of motion as we age, however, even those of us who prioritize flexibility in our fitness routines often end up overlooking certain areas of the body. It’s no secret that sitting for long periods and hunching over screens can lead to tightness in the hamstrings and upper back muscles, but did you know that a sedentary lifestyle is just as constricting for our front body muscles? Here are a few of the best stretches to open the front of the body and counteract tension from daily life.
To improve posture and relieve tightness in the chest muscles caused by hunching, stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Interlace your fingers behind your back, straighten your arms, and gently lift them while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Move at a slow, comfortable pace, stopping when you feel a sense of mild discomfort. Hold for 15-30 seconds, and repeat for 3-5 repetitions.
For a deeper stretch in the entire front body, Camel Pose is especially effective. On a yoga mat or other comfortable surface, begin by kneeling with your knees hip-width apart, placing your hands on your lower back with your fingers pointing downward. When you feel stable, gently arch your back and push your hips forward. Hold for 15-30 seconds. When you’re ready to release, lower your hips and slowly return to an upright seated position, lifting your head up last.
Lunges are ideal for releasing tension in the quadriceps and psoas. Start in a “proposal position” by kneeling on your right knee with your left foot in front of you at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your upper body straight, push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your right hip flexor. If you’d like to deepen the stretch further, you can try bending your right knee and gently pulling your right foot toward your buttocks. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.