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GeneralSelf-Care

Can Stretching Really Help to Relieve Stress?

So, can stretching really help to relieve stress? We’ve got the answer to this question and more in our latest blog post. Read now!

Published: 9/30/19

Can Stretching Really Help to Relieve Stress?

Stress, the six-letter word that creeps up in our lives and can wreak havoc on our bodies. As humans, we come across stress every day, and the digital age has only added to that with the “keeping up” social media mentality. It seems like there is always someone living life just a little better. The truth is that most of what we see is a highlight reel. It’s time to take control of our stress and focus on self-care. But how? Can stretching help to relieve stress and what stretches help? Let’s find out now.

Stretching to Reduce Stress

The American Psychological Association talks about how tight muscle tension is a reaction to stress. Some of that is good. Tensing up is our body’s way of saying, “Hey! This is painful.” and gets us to stop doing whatever is causing pain. Chronic stress, though, makes it so that instead of a quick tensing of the muscles, we are in a constant state of tension. This level of tension can lead to other ailments like migraines and even chronic pain. To relieve stress in your body, a good stretch or relaxing yoga poses can be incredibly helpful. Here are some stretching exercises to help relieve stress.

Neck and Shoulder Tension

Many of us hold stress in our neck and shoulders from sitting at our desks all day, looking down at our phones—or both. If you scan your body right now, the chances are that your neck feels a little less than perfect. You can try this stretch sequence to release tension and relieve stress. The best part is that you can do it at your desk!

  1. Lift your arms above your head, interlace your fingers, and twist your palms up towards the ceiling. Hold this for 10-30 seconds while you take deep breaths and release. 
  2. Take the palm of your right hand and gently push it against the right side of your head, pushing your head toward your right hand for extra resistance. Hold for 10-30 seconds and release.
  3. Repeat on your left side.
  4. Now, interlace your fingers in front of you and push your palms gently on your forehead, resisting your hands by pushing your head gently forward.
  5. Repeat on the back of your head.
  6. Cross your right arm over the left and place each hand on the opposite shoulder, hugging yourself. Now gently move your head from left to right. Try this for 10-30 seconds and release.
  7. Repeat with the other arm.
  8. Inhale while you shrug your shoulders up to your ears, and then exhale them back down for 10-20 inhales and exhales.   

Back Tension

Back pain has been linked to stress as well and can cause you to have poor posture and even lead to pain in the lower body. If you feel pain in your mid to lower back, try out this stretch to relieve tension. 

  1. Begin in child’s pose. Sit with your knees tucked beneath you and lean forward with your arms stretched in front of you and your palms on the floor. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Release.
  2. Next, get into downward dog—the one where you look like an upside-down V. Palms and toes on the ground with your bottom jetting up to the ceiling. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Release.
  3. Next, go down onto all fours and try cat-cow. Hunch your back to look like a cat, and then inverse the movement, arching your back into cow pose. Follow your breath moving from cat to cow for a few breaths.
  4. Finally, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hinge at the hips and allow yourself to hang with your arms towards the floor. Grab each elbow with the opposite hand and sway back and forth, releasing the tension in your back and shoulders. Continue for a few breaths and release.

Hip Tension

Last but not least are those hips. It is a place where a lot of tension can build up and many of us don’t even realize it until we try to bend and can’t quite reach where we used to. If you are feeling extra stressed, try and complete a hip stretch to relieve tension. 

  1. Place your left knee on the ground with your right foot placed firmly on the ground in front of you. This puts you into a lunge position. Place your hands either on the floor or your hamstrings and utilize your breathing through the stretch for 10-30 seconds. Release.
  2. Repeat on the opposite leg.
  3. Next, lie on the floor with both feet stretched in front of you. Bring your right knee in towards the chest and hold your shin with your fingers interlaced for 10-30 seconds. Release.
  4. Repeat on the opposite leg.
  5. Finally, stay lying on the floor. Place your right foot onto the ground and sit your left ankle onto your right quad. Push your knee away from you for a stretch. If that is not enough of a stretch for you, you can lift your left leg into “reclining pigeon.” Hold for 10-30 seconds. Release.
  6. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Try combining all of these stretches for deep relaxation, or do the ones that feel right to you. As with any stretching routine, listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right—stop. We want to make sure that you are injury-free as you enjoy your much-deserved self-care. Whether you want to exercise, enjoy a sauna or HydroMassage, or get a great stretch and improve your flexibility, there is something for you at all of our locations, whether you are in a yoga class or out on the turf. So, come on in and give us a try!