Photo by Alex Shaw on Unsplash

SOS Stretches are designed to be done in the moment—when you need them most. These super-quick routines will relieve tension and tightness and ease sore muscles from whatever activity you’re taking part in. In today’s after a long day of shopping routine, you’ll be:

  • Stretching your: Wrists, hands, shoulders, back, and feet.
  • You can do this: Wearing pretty much any type of clothing and in whatever place you feel comfortable stretching.

An all-day shopping marathon doesn’t just affect your wallet—it can do a number on your body too. Spending hours on your feet means lots of uninterrupted time where gravity is pushing down on you, Candace Harding, DPT, an integrative physical therapist and registered yoga teacher in Arlington, tells SELF.

“Your muscles are forced to support you in fighting gravity during that time,” she explains, and that can lead to feeling tired and tight overall. More specifically, walking for long stretches of time, like taking laps around the mall for instance, can tighten up tissues in your feet if you’re not used to that level of activity.

Additionally, depending on how many shopping bags you’re hauling and how heavy they are, your hands, wrists, and shoulders might start to fatigue just because those muscles don’t often work for that long of a time, Harding explains. (Unless, of course, your normal routine involves continuously lifting and carrying items—like if you’re a delivery driver, for example).

The antidote to all this? Stretching. By doing a simple sequence after a long day of shopping, you can give your muscles a chance to be in a different position, and this variation can bring relief. Harding created the below four-move stretch routine specifically to help folks recover after a marathon mall session. Right this way for all you need to know!

Directions:

  • Complete each move for the designated number of reps listed below. Harding designed the sequence in a particular order, but it’s not set in stone—you can do these moves in any order. Also, you don’t have to do all four moves; feel free to pick and choose if some feel better than others.
  • You’ll reap benefits from doing the sequence just one time, but if it feels good and you’d like to repeat it, then go right ahead, says Harding.
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1

Wrist Flexor Stretch

  • From a standing or seated position (you could also do this lying down if you want), interlace your fingers. Extend your elbows out in front of you and flip your palms away. The height at which you hold your arms does not matter; simply find whatever position feels most comfortable.
  • Hold for 20 seconds and repeat three times, or hold for 1 minute.

This stretch helps counteract the gripping motion your hands may be doing to hold your shopping bags. Specifically, interlacing your fingers stretches across your palms and flipping away your palms lengthens the muscles that flex your wrists.

2

Shoulder Circles

  • Inhale and lift your shoulders up toward your ears. Exhale and roll them down and back towards your hips as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Now repeat in the opposite direction
  • That’s 1 rep. Continue at a relaxed pace for 10–15 reps.

This is a relaxing stretch that helps loosen your upper back and shoulder muscles, which can get rigid from hauling heavy bags for an extended period of time.

3

Rag Doll

  • From a standing position with feet hip-distance apart, bend your knees and fold your torso forward towards the floor. Let your arms dangle, or grab your elbows with opposite hands.
  • From here, feel free to sway your torso forward and back and/or side to side. You can also shake your head up and down and side to side. Stay in this position for 10–30 seconds. That’s 1 rep.
  • If you hold for 10 seconds, repeat for 3–4 total reps. If you hold for 30 seconds, repeat for 1–2 total reps.

This stretch helps relax your shoulders and reverse the effects of gravity by lengthening your spine. This is not intended to be a hamstring stretch, so if you feel a stretching in the back of your legs, bend your knees more, says Harding.

4

Ankle Circles

  • Stand tall with your hands on your hips. Extend one leg in front of you with the foot hovering several inches off the ground.
  • Move your foot in a small clockwise circle. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 10–15 reps, then repeat with counterclockwise circles for another 10–15 reps.

Moving your ankle in a circular motion will boost blood flow to the foot and ankle area, which can assist with relaxation, says Harding.

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