After long days spent sitting at a desk, running errands and taking care of chores at home, it’s common to feel aches and pains. Knee pain affects about 25% of adults and back pain is the leading cause of work limitations — a whopping 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain. So if you’re feeling achy, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with it every day.
When I start to feel achy in my back and knees, I listen to my body. Taking time to release tension and stretch your muscles can make a big difference. These five stretches can help you loosen up and move with less pain throughout the day.
The low lunge helps stretch and relax the back while also loosening up the hips. Start in a kneeling position; step your right foot forward bending your knee and placing the bottom of your foot flat on the mat. Move your left leg behind you so that the top of your left foot is resting on the mat. Shift your left knee as far back as you’re comfortable. Extend your hands over your head and breathe.
Forward leg lifts
Forward leg lifts help loosen up the legs and knees. Standing straight, begin swinging your right foot forward while keeping the leg straight. Swing it up as high as you can before swinging down and behind you as far as you can. Feel free to hold onto a chair or the wall to remain steady. Switch legs after 10 swings.
The hamstring stretch is a great way to relieve tension in your leg muscles, including your knees. Sit up with your legs straight out in front of you and bend your left leg so the bottom of your left foot is resting on the inside of your right thigh. Reach forward toward your ankle as far as you can until you feel the stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 10 seconds and then switch so the left leg is out in front of you and repeat the movements.
Wide leg forward fold
The wide leg forward fold stretches the whole back of the body, including the knees and back, making it the perfect stretch to incorporate into your routine. Standing up straight, spread your feet about 3-4 feet apart. Make sure your toes are facing forward and that your feet are parallel. Lift your arms above your head and breathe in before hinging at the hips and reaching your hands down toward the floor. You should feel a stretch in the back of the legs and a release in the low back.
Knees to chest
Knees to chest helps relieve back pain while stretching your glutes and hips. Lie down with your back on the ground, your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Using your hands, pull your right knee toward your chest while keeping your left foot on the floor. Hold before releasing and switching to your left leg.