Got just five minutes to spare? It’s time to put them to good use! Picture this: improved flexibility that gives your body a wider range of motion, an effortless blood circulation boost, and a release of that tension and stress that’s been stubbornly sticking around. That’s the power of regular stretching. (And it’s also your secret weapon in preventing pesky injuries.)
The sequence of stretches below targets your body’s major muscle groups to energize you from head to toe. Even better, this 5-minute stretch routine is made of all standing stretches, so you can do them at home, at the gym, at the park, on a work break, while waiting for your train – anywhere!
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5-Minute Stretches to Get You Moving
You may have learned to warm up with static stretches. But research shows that jumping straight into static (non-moving) stretches can actually injure you. This 5-minute stretching routine starts with dynamic (moving) stretches to get the heart pumping and the blood flowing before moving on to static stretches.
Pro Tip: Don’t push your body beyond what it can handle. If you feel any pain, stop. Overstretching can injure the muscle, causing pain and inflammation, and actually weaken muscles and joints. Always listen to your body!
Stand tall and swing your right leg back and forth in large semi-circles. Allow free movement but keep in control so you don’t overstrain the muscles. Do 20 seconds on one side and switch to 20 seconds on the other.
Primary muscles targeted: hip flexors, hamstrings
Stand tall with legs hip-width apart. Move your hips in clockwise circles for 15 seconds, then reverse direction for another 15 seconds.
Primary muscles targeted: hip flexors, gluteal muscles, abdominal muscles, adductor muscles
Stand tall with legs shoulder-width apart and arms straight out to the side. Start by making small circles with your arms, gradually getting larger and larger, for a total of 20 seconds. Reverse direction and go from big circles to small ones for another 20 seconds.
Primary muscles targeted: deltoids, rotator cuff muscles, rhomboids, trapezius muscles
Stand tall with arms relaxed. Roll shoulders forward in circles for 15 seconds to release tension, then reverse direction and repeat for another 15 seconds.
Primary muscles targeted: trapezius, rhomboids, deltoids, levator scapulae
Clasped Hand Shoulder Blade Squeeze
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bring hands together behind your back and lace your fingers. Lift your interlaced hands and arms as one, squeezing the shoulder blades towards each other and pushing your chest forward. Hold 20 seconds. This is a great stretch if you work at a computer or are hunched over for work all day.
Primary muscles targeted: pectoralis muscles, rhomboids, trapezius, deltoids
Standing Side Stretch
Stand with feet hip-width apart with your left hand on your hip and raise your right arm above your head. Lean over to your left and stretch the entire right side of your body. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side for 20 seconds.
Primary muscles targeted: obliques, lower back muscles including quadratus lumborum and latissimus dorsi, intercostal muscles
Standing Spinal Twist
Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms out to the side. Gently twist your entire torso to the right from the waist through the shoulders, keeping your hips in place. Place one hand behind your back and one on the opposite hip. Turn your head in the same direction to look over your shoulder. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds on one side, feeling the stretch through your spine. Gently come back to neutral and repeat on the other side for 20 seconds.
Primary muscles targeted: obliques, back muscles including erector spinae and quadratus lumborum, gluteus maximus, and hip flexors
Standing Quad Stretch
Stand tall. Keeping your thigh in place, bend your right knee so your foot comes up and touches the right buttock with the heel, and hold your foot there with your hand. You’ll feel a nice stretch in the quadriceps at the front of your thigh. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side for 20 seconds. Hold onto something for support if needed.
Primary muscles targeted: quadriceps muscles including rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius
Standing Forward Fold
Stand with feet spread wide. Keep your knees straight but not locked and bend your upper body over from the hips to “fold” down onto your legs. Depending on your flexibility, touch the floor with your palms or fingertips, or grab your ankles or calves for stability. Hold for 20 seconds. This is a great stretch to end on because it not only gives you a great hamstring stretch but also energizes you by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Primary muscles targeted: hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae, calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus)
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Is it better to stretch at night or in the morning?
You can stretch any time of day, as long as you make sure to warm up your body first with a little light aerobic exercise or dynamic stretches to get the blood pumping. An energizing morning stretching routine can help you wake up and limber up for the day. A relaxing evening stretching routine can help you unwind, release tension, and prepare for restful sleep.
How do you release all tension in your body?
Full-body stretching routines are a good way to release tension in the body, but it’s not the only way. Other good ways of releasing tension in the body include deep breathing, massage, warm baths, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindful meditation.
What is the most relaxing stretch?
The most relaxing stretch will be specific to you. If you tend to hold a lot of tension in your neck and shoulders, then stretches that target those areas, like neck rolls, shoulder rolls, and shoulder squeezes, will be relaxing for you. For general relaxation, try the child’s pose or savasana.
What happens if you stretch every day?
Daily gentle stretching (like the five-minute stretch routine we just shared) is a good way to release tension in the muscles, improve flexibility and range of motion, help protect your joints, and guard against injuries. Always stretch within your body’s limits and be careful not to overstretch or push yourself to the point of pain. Speak with your doctor if you have questions about appropriate stretches and whether there are any you should avoid due to health conditions.