Afternoon energizing stretch

When was the last time you got an awesome stretch??

Figure 4  1 of 1

Usually yoga is my go-to for serious stretching, but lately with my subbing/teaching schedule I’ve been lucky to make it to yoga once a week. One of my favorite things about taking and teaching barre classes is that you stretch the muscles after working them throughout class. I’ve often heard people say that stretching the muscles in between sets makes them longer and leaner, but that’s not true: it just feels good, especially if your legs are angry from doing a thousand tiny plie squats with your heels off the ground. 🙂

The benefits (or lack of benefits) of stretching are mixed –you can read more about that in this post if you’d like!– but I find that I still like to do it on a daily basis. It relaxes me and helps to soothe any sore muscles. Also, I find that a quick afternoon stretch gives me a boost of energy, which is much appreciated since I cut down my coffee intake. My afternoon jolt has been replaced by a giant green juice or green tea and an awesome stretch. This could be as little as three minutes, or as many as 15 if I get some free time. The chocolate or bite of something sweet is still there, too 😉

Here’s a stretch sequence I put together, which stretches some of the commonly-sore muscle groups (back, chest, hamstrings, glutes…).

Some tips for stretching:

-It’s uncomfortable, but not painful. If you feel legit pain, you need to decrease the intensity. Stretching straps are a fantastic way to do this.

-Breathe into the stretch. With deep breaths, your body will be able to relax into the stretch instead of fighting the tension.

-Modify as you need, especially if you have contraindications that would require you to avoid the supine position (on your back) or flexion/extension of the spine. I included some modifications below.

-This includes some movement-based stretching (inhale for one, exhale for the next) and static. For the static holds, try to hold them for 20 seconds before moving onto the next.

Relaxing and energizing stretch

How often do you stretch? Any favorites, or any muscles that are particularly sore this week? (Talking to you Shape Up friends! heh heh)

Hope you enjoy the rest of your day! 



More stretching stuff:

Focus On: Stretching

Foam roller tips

Guest post up on the lovely Heather’s blog here <3

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  1. Amber Schumann on June 24, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    O-M-G… were your typing fingers burning?? I just posted to the SSU facebook group desperately seeking some awesome stretch routine for non-yoga-ers.

    Before the responsibilities of adulthood took over my life (full-time job/school/motherhood), when I had hours to spend at the gym getting in a well-rounded workout, I would spend a good 20 minutes JUST stretching after my workout. Now that my schedule allows ONLY 20 minutes here and there throughout my day, stretching just doesn’t happen (somewhere, a PT just keeled over hearing that statement).

    I am SO EXCITED to stretch tonight after my little monster goes to bed. Thanks for this!

    • Fitnessista on June 25, 2014 at 1:57 am

      haha i was reading your mind 😉
      it’s so funny to think about stuff like that. i remember once in college, i did ab work for AN HOUR. what?! i’m lucky to bust out a 3-minute plank now haha.
      let me know if you give it a try!

  2. Colleen on June 24, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    That looks like it feels absolutely delicious. I love moving stretches that go with your breathing. I’ve been trying to incorporate more stretching, and this routine looks like it will definitely help me! I definitely am guilty of “I don’t have 90 minutes to yogafy, so I’ just won’t do anything. “

    • Fitnessista on June 25, 2014 at 1:56 am

      delicious is a great way to describe it 🙂 let me know if you give it a try!

  3. Amy on June 24, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    I do not stretch nearly enough, but when I do I love to stretch my hip flexors! I do a lot of running, among other things, so my hips can get pretty tight. I think I’ll have to make a habit of doing this stretching routine during my baby’s nap time! Thanks for sharing!

    • Fitnessista on June 25, 2014 at 1:52 am

      hip flexors can get SO tight. awesome to stretch them out! hope you enjoyed it 🙂

  4. The Silent Assassin on June 24, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I like the lunges and figure 4. I always forget to breathe especially when someone else is stretching me out. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Gigi on June 24, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I’m a regular reader of your blog Gina, and a big fan of your sensible, realistic tips and advice! I’ve used some of your recipes and generally you inspire me to live a more healthful balanced life.

    I really love this idea of giving up the afternoon coffee (hopefully this will help me with sleep quality) and incorporating an afternoon stretch into my day.

    However I need to modify it as I work in a busy office and want to (a) find a private place to stretch as I just don’t feel comfortable doing them at my desk, and (b) do moves I can complete in my office clothing. I think I can do this by using the office bathroom (the only private place I can think of!) and maybe just doing the standing stretches (I really don’t want to be near the floor!). Any other ideas for us office workers?

    • Fitnessista on June 25, 2014 at 1:52 am

      thank you so much for reading, gigi! <3
      quitting the afternoon coffee has definitely helped with my sleep. i hope it helps you too!
      for modifying, i think you could totally do this in the bathroom if you did the standing portion. it would feel awesome to just get up and stretch a little. i have a standing series in this video ( with some more ideas you could do (quad, calf stretches, standing figure 4, etc. hope this helps a little!

  6. Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out on June 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    This looks awesome! I always love new ways to incorporate stretching into my routine!

  7. Debbie on June 24, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    This is wonderful! I do not stretch enough and my muscles have been very sore lately. I have a foam roller gathering dust that I should really learn to use.

    • Fitnessista on June 25, 2014 at 1:50 am

      it’s been a while since i’ve had a date with mine, too

  8. Megan @ The Skinny-Life on June 24, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Since my injury, I make stretching after working out a priority. I didn’t realize how important it was until my injury.

  9. Yaara Leve on June 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I do those same stretches!!! They feel so yummy on the body after a hard workout.

  10. Mari on June 24, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    My favorite stretch is pigeon pose. It hurts so good!

  11. shaina on June 25, 2014 at 1:14 am

    I love pigeon and the figure 4 stretch. My glutes usually take a beating because a full round butt is just not in my genetics so I hit them hard during workouts. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on June 25, 2014 at 1:48 am

      haha i will share some of mine with you 😉

  12. Heather @ Housewife Glamour on June 25, 2014 at 1:49 am

    Stretching my angry muscles in-between barre exercises is why I started loving the workout in the first place! It hurts so good 🙂 Great post, and thanks again for the guest post! xo

  13. Push Up in Progress on June 25, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Very nice tips! I’m flexible like a piece of wood and tried a yoga class for the first time last week… it felt like having someone else’s legs after! XD

  14. Runner Girl Eats on June 25, 2014 at 6:26 am

    I absolutely love stretching. I am not sure what the actual benefits are or if it’s just mental but I feel soo much better after my afternoon office stretch.

  15. Jess on June 25, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Love stretching! I typically do it after workouts, but taking a break in the afternoon to stretch is a great idea.

  16. Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on June 25, 2014 at 8:04 am

    I love stretching! I am notorious for hanging out at a friends and randomly busting out some stretches on their living room floor haha. It just feels so good 🙂

    • Fitnessista on June 25, 2014 at 10:39 am

      haha i do that too!

  17. Sara on June 25, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I don’t stretch nearly enough…this looks like something I could do during work in the afternoon to get my energy up again! Thanks 🙂

  18. Maggie on June 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I have never-ending lower back and hip soreness/pain. Yoga usually relaxes everything away for a few days, but lately it’s been unbearable. I don’t know if my posture when I sit at my desk to blame but I end up going into the bathroom stalls to privately move everything around haha. Would love to see a yoga-inspired routine to stretch those muscles!

    • Fitnessista on June 25, 2014 at 10:35 am

      ah man! hope this routine helps a little. i used to get up and more often when i worked at a desk, too
      when i finish my certification, i’ll post more yoga workouts 🙂

  19. Nicole on June 25, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I stretch all the time and love it! I definitely don’t feel as good on days when I don’t have time to fit it in.

  20. Tracy on June 25, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I stretch and foam roll every. single. day. Without fail. I don’t have to make myself do it. I love it!! Feels so good. My favorites are a deep forward fold and downward dog 🙂

    Loved you guest post on housewife glamour!!

  21. britt on June 26, 2014 at 9:08 am

    My foam roller is my bff during ssu..and always! It hurts so good my hammies are beyonddddddd sore today after work out 2 so after coffee lll be rollin 😉

  22. Alexis Schroeder on June 26, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Wow, this was so helpful! Definitely trying some of these stretches out today, thank you!

  23. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine on June 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Great stretches! I need to print that out and post it in front of my computer as a reminder to get up and move my body a bit while I am home working on the computer all morning. I get up and am so stiff- I feel so much better if I take stretch/exercise mini breaks!

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