Holiday meals filled with carbs, salty snacks and bubbly cocktails are tasty going down, but often leave us feeling bloated.
Bloating can be frustrating and uncomfortable. While the discomfort likely leaves you wanting to lie on the couch, movement is actually one of the best ways to find relief.
If you are begrudgingly reaching for your sneakers, hold on. You’ll be happy to hear that it’s not cardio exercise, but gentle, slow stretching that is the most effective way to debloat. Twisting motions in particular help improve circulation, helping your body release tension and excess gas. So if you’re feeling bloated, performing Pilates-inspired moves with gentle twists is the way to go.
Even as a health expert who closely watches my diet, I still get bloated sometimes. Often the last thing I want to do is move, but once I get down on the ground and start stretching, my stomach feels less like a balloon and I am able to move around much more comfortably.
So after that big holiday meal, try this easy three-move sequence. The stretches are simple, yet effective, and can be completed in just a few minutes. Remember to take it slow, twisting your body gently before releasing.
Seated twist and reach
Begin in a seated position with your back upright and your legs straight out in front of you. Open your feet as wide as the mat. Straighten your arms out to your sides so that they are parallel to the floor and in line with the shoulders. Inhale before moving, and then exhale as you twist your torso toward the left while keeping your hips square. After twisting as far as you can, count to three and pulse the right arm towards the outside of the left foot. Then move back to the starting position and alternate sides. Repeat 10 times, remembering to move slowly throughout.
This is another Pilates move that involves twisting your torso, making it a perfect exercise for de-bloating. Start by lying on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Slowly lift your legs straight up toward the ceiling. Open your arms out to your sides as anchor. Keeping your feet together, rotate your legs toward the right while twisting your upper body and head toward the left. Hold the position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position and alternating sides. Repeat 10 times per side.
If this is too challenging, keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and perform the exercise.
Mermaid side stretch
This move stretches your sides and gently twists your upper body. Sit on the mat with your legs folded to the left. Make sure the sides of your feet are lying on the mat. Straighten your left arm above your head and straighten your back before stretching toward the right. Place your right hand on the mat for added support if needed, but make sure to place it further away from your body to help the stretch. Keep your left hip on the ground throughout. Return to the starting position slowly before switching sides and stretching to the left. Repeat 10 times, and then switch the position of your legs and perform 10 more times.