The holiday season is a joyous time of year to spend quality time with family and friends. This time of the year can be tough on the body, however. Whether you are spending more time cooking, cleaning, putting up lights, or even shoveling, it’s a good idea to remember to stretch.
Stretching can help reduce stress and improve aches and pains that may be brought on by the holidays. Here are 12 stretches you can do daily for a happy and healthy holiday season.
1. Child’s Pose
This stretch is good for the low back as well as the upper back.
- Begin by kneeling and placing your hands in front of you on the floor.
- Lean back so your buttock is on your heels and your arms are stretched overhead on the floor.
- Keep your head looking toward the floor to avoid straining your neck.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Then, walk your hands to the right and feel more of a stretch in your left side and hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat by walking your hands to the left side.
2. Thoracic Rotation Stretch
This stretch is excellent to promote movement in the thoracic or upper back region.
- Begin on your hands and knees.
- Place one hand behind your head with the elbow pointing toward the floor.
- Slowly rotate your arm and upper half of your body to try to get your elbow to point toward the ceiling.
- You may not get to pointing upward; stop your movement where you feel a stretch.
- Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
3. Wrist Flexion & Extension Stretch
This stretch is great for those doing typing or desk work all day or spending time in the kitchen before the holidays!
- With your arm straight in front of you, let your hand bend forward and apply gentle pressure with your other hand for a stretch in your forearm.
- Hold this stretch for 20 seconds, then reverse the stretch with the hand bent back for a stretch on the other side of the forearm.
- Perform on both sides.
(Image 1: Wrist Flexion, Image 2: Wrist Extension)
4. Figure 4 Stretch
This stretch is great if you sit a lot during the day.
- Begin lying on your back with your knees bent.
- Cross one ankle over your knee and let the knee fall out toward the floor.
- You should feel a stretch where your back pocket would be. This may be enough of a stretch for some people.
- If you do not feel a stretch, use your hands to help lift your leg toward your chest.
- Hold for 30 seconds and perform on both sides.
5. Scalene Stretch
This stretch is for the front of your neck, especially if you look at a computer monitor or your cell phone all day.
- Place your hands on your sternum, look up and tip your chin toward one corner (think you have a thought bubble over your head like in a cartoon).
- You should feel a stretch in your neck on the side that your chin is facing.
- Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
6. Calf Stretch
Stand at the kitchen counter and have one leg back.
- Both feet should point straight ahead. Keep your heel on the ground.
- Bend the front knee until a stretch is felt in the back leg calf muscles.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Then slowly bend the back knee until a stretch is felt lower near the Achilles.
- Hold for an additional 30 seconds. Perform on the other leg.
7. Doorway Stretch
This stretch is good if you work a desk job or lean forward at your job.
- Place both hands on either side of the door frame.
- Step forward with one leg and lean in until a stretch is felt across the front of the chest and armpit area.
- Hand height on the door frame can alter the intensity of the stretch and where the stretch is felt.
8. Lower Trunk Rotation
This is a great stretch for your low back and helps improve mobility in the lower portion of your spine.
- Begin lying on your back with both legs bent.
- Rotate your legs to one side until a stretch is felt in the low back or hip.
- Hold for 2-3 seconds, then rotate to the opposite side.
- Perform 10 repetitions to each side.
9. Hip Flexor Stretch
Sitting all day can lead to tightness in the front of your hips, and stretching your hip flexors can help.
- Begin in a half-kneeling position; you can use a pillow under your knee for cushion and a chair next to you for balance.
- Tighten your buttock muscles and push your pelvis forward until a stretch is felt in the front of the hip of the leg that is down.
- Make sure to keep your body upright and not lean forward.
- Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds 2-3 repetitions and perform on both sides.
10. Chin Tuck
This stretch is good if you get headaches or experience neck pain.
- This can be performed lying down or in a sitting position with the head supported, such as a headrest in your car.
- Keep your eyes looking straight ahead, pull your chin back as if making a “double chin” position.
- You should feel a stretch in the base of your skull or the back of your neck.
- Perform in a tolerable range for you.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
11. Upper Trap & Levator Stretch
These stretches are good for neck and upper shoulder pain.
- Tilt your head to the side like you are bringing your ear to your shoulder until you feel a stretch on the top of the shoulder, hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Then, tilt your head down as if looking at your armpit to feel a stretch further back near the top of the shoulder blade and hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Perform both stretches on the opposite side.
(Image 1: Upper trap stretch, Image 2: Levator stretch)
12. Quad Stretch
Begin standing near a chair or counter for balance.
- Bend your leg and try to grab your foot until a stretch is felt across the front of your thigh.
- Make sure your knee stays pointing toward the floor rather than in front of your body.
- Perform on both sides, holding for 30 seconds each.
Seek Help at the First Sign of Pain
If you’re in pain, don’t tough it out. Instead, seek help from a licensed physical therapist at an Athletico near you. Our team of experts will help identify the source of your pain and make recommendations for a treatment option suited for you. Start 2022 off on the right foot by scheduling a Free Assessment today. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
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