7 Stretches Your Body Really Needs

Designed by Anna Sudit.
This post was originally published on May 27, 2015.

Let's be real, it's not always easy or convenient to clock in quality time at the gym. And, with all the hours we spend working behind a desk, trudging up S.F. hills, and glued to our iPhone screens, our bodies can start to feel a little bit burnt out.

We tapped Laura Burkhart of YogaWorks in S.F. to school us on how we can easily fix ailments — such as sore hamstrings, tight backs, and stiff necks — caused by our daily habits. Whether you're feeling the impact of biking around the city or shoulder pain caused by too much 'gramming, these easy stretches will help. The best part? You don't need to be a gym rat to master them; just find a little space in the office or house, and you're good to go!
Advertisement
1 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Problem: Walking up and down the city's massive hills can do a number on your legs, leaving you with achy, tight hamstrings.
2 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Solution: Hamstring Stretch With Belt

Steps:

1. Lie on your back and wrap a belt (or a towel) below the ball of your right foot. Extend your right leg up toward the ceiling. Keep your arms straight and grip the belt in each hand, but be sure to keep your shoulders planted on the floor.

2. Flex both feet and gently move the right leg toward you, left foot pointing up toward the ceiling.

4. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then extend your right leg out to the right, belt in right hand. Press the sit bone into the floor so it doesn’t pop up, and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Change to the opposite side.
Advertisement
3 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Problem: It's no secret that most locals' favorite form of transportation is on two wheels. And, while it's a great cardio workout, excessive time spent biking can result in tight hips and sore glutes.
4 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Solution: Figure Four Stretch

Steps:

1. Lie on your back and place your left ankle on top of your right knee.

2. Gently grab the back of your right thigh with both arms and pull it toward your chest. Press your left forearm into your left inner thigh, and begin to push it away from you.

3. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
5 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Habit: It's hard to think about perfect posture when you're trying to answer a million emails, pull together a spreadsheet for your boss, and secretly check Facebook every chance you get. The problem with all of this multitasking? It can lead to rounded shoulders and a compressed spine.
6 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Solution: Cat-Cow Pose

Steps:

1. Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly below your shoulders in a tabletop position.

2. As you inhale, begin to curl your tailbone up toward the ceiling, lifting your chest and your head.

3. As you exhale, curl your tailbone down and slowly round your spine all the way to your neck, pulling your lower belly in and up and releasing your neck and head.

4. Repeat for a few cycles of breath.
7 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Habit: Not only are long commutes on public transit frustrating, they can be tough on your body, too. Sitting on hard chairs for extended periods of time can strain your lower back and cause it to curve, as well as lead to rounded shoulders.
Advertisement
8 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Solution: Seated Twist

Steps:

1. Sit in a simple, cross-legged position. Place your right hand slightly behind you and your left hand on the outside of your right thigh.

2. Sit up as straight as possible and begin the twisting action from the base of your spine all the way up, head turning last, and gently look over your right shoulder.

3. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, and change to the opposite side.
9 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Habit: Sometimes, all the stress from constantly being plugged in is just too much to handle. It can manifest in many ways, including lodging itself in your upper back, leading to tight shoulders and neck.
10 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Solution: Eagle Arms

Steps:

1. Sitting cross-legged, place your right arm on top of your left. Bend your elbows and intertwine your forearms.

2. Lift your elbows to shoulder level and press them forward, separating your shoulder blades away from each other.

3. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, and change to the opposite side.
11 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Habit: Sore wrists and forearms from typing? Hours behind the keyboard can cause pain in these areas. The repetitive action creates stiffness and weakness of muscles, causing cramping and discomfort.
12 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Solution: Wrist Stretch

Steps:

1. Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly below your shoulders in a tabletop position.

2. Twist your hands so that your fingers are pointing toward your knees, and lean back until you get a nice stretch in the back of your wrists.
13 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Habit: With all the time we spend checking email, Instagramming, and texting on the go, our heads are buried in our phones, resulting in rounded shoulders and a stiff neck.
14 of 14
Designed by Anna Sudit.
The Solution: Thread The Needle

Steps:

1. Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly below your shoulders in a tabletop position.

2. Lift your right arm up toward the ceiling, and then thread it under your body and under your left arm.

3. Rest your right shoulder on the floor. Press your left fingers into the floor and lean back into your right shoulder. Breathe into the inside of your right shoulder blade.

4. Hold for 30 seconds, and change to the opposite side.
Advertisement