Flexibility exercises are one of the most important parts of your activity routine because they help keep you mobile, allow you to move more efficiently, and decrease your chances of getting injured. They can also help relieve pain or soreness caused by tight muscles. As a student, you likely spend a lot of your time sitting at a desk, which can cause certain muscles to become tight and lead to issues such as back pain. Flexibility exercises can help counteract issues caused by too much sitting. If you are experiencing a muscle strain or injury, be cautious and talk with a physician or physical therapist before participating in a flexibility routine.
No warm-up is necessary for this flexibility routine, but be sure to not over-stretch in any of the positions. As you move into each position, it’s OK to feel slightly uncomfortable with a small stretching feeling, but if it feels painful, you’ve most likely gone too far.
Try to hold each of the following stretches for 30 to 60 seconds on each side (where applicable).
Come to a half-kneeling position on the floor with your back knee on the ground and the opposite leg out in front of you. Square your hips forward. Tuck your tailbone by thinking about pulling your frontal hip bones upward and squeezing through your back glute. Shift forward through your hips, feeling a stretch through the upper front part of your back leg. Hold for 30 seconds or more. Repeat on the opposite side.
From a standing position, reach down to grab onto one ankle or foot. If your quadriceps are tight and this is a hard position for you to get into, wrap a band or a towel around your ankle and hold onto the towel as you pull your foot back up behind you. Keep your knees in line with each other. Don’t let the lifted knee flare out to the side, and push your hips forward while squeezing the back glute of the lifted leg. Hold for 30 seconds or more. You should feel this stretch in the front side of the lifted leg. Repeat on the opposite side.
Lying on your side on the floor, bring your knees up in line with your hips and extend both arms straight out from your shoulders. Drive your knees into the floor, avoiding any rotation through your hips. Take the upper arm and open up across your body, making a T shape with your arms. As you take the arm overhead, follow your hand with your eyes and neck. When your arm cannot lower any farther or hits the floor, hold for 30 seconds or more. You should feel this stretch through the front chest and possibly into the upper part of the arm that was opened up. Repeat on the opposite side.
Sitting tall with your shoulders pulled down and back, tip one ear toward your shoulder. If the right ear is dropped toward the shoulder, you should feel a stretch in the left side of the neck. You can take your gaze up to the ceiling or down to the floor to find the area that feels most tense, and then hold there for 30 seconds or more. Repeat on the opposite side.
Lying on the floor on your stomach, place your hands outside the midline of your chest. Press up through your arms, straightening them and arching through your back. You should feel the stretch through the front of your abdomen in your rectus abdominus (the six-pack muscles). If this is too intense, come down onto your forearms and press up from there. Hold for 30 seconds or more.
These exercises are a great cool-down for any workout you complete.