Best stretching exercises to stay fit at home

Dr. Sidharth J Unnithan

Associate Specialist- Sports Medicine Physician,

Aster Medcity Hospital, Kerala, India

Stretches are required to improve flexibility and improve the tone of the muscle. Each stretch needs to be held for 15-30 seconds each. Do not hold breath when stretching, try to take deep breaths on each stretch. It should not cause pain, if pain presents please stop the stretch at once. There are many stretches which can be done but these 5 stretches target specific muscles which help maintain flexibility and prevent aches and pains after prolonged online meetings and working in kitchen during a prolonged period at home.

  • Piriformis stretch lying down – Lie on the back with both knees bent. Pull the left knee up to the chest, grasp the knee with right hand and pull it towards the right shoulder and hold stretch for 10-15 secs. Repeat for each side – this stretch targets the piriformis muscle which gets very tight after prolonged sitting and can cause pain to the back.
  • Hamstring stretch – sit on the floor with both legs out straight, extend your arms and reach forward as much as possible without bending the knee. Pain should not be felt in this stretch. Hamstring tightness is one of the leading causes of back pain and prolonged sitting and standing causes its tightness.
  • Calf stretch (Heel drop stretch) – to be done on steps – Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of the step. Drop one leg hanging free, while the other heel to be dropped down with knee straight thus stretching the calf. This has to be held for 15-30 seconds.  Another similar stretch is with knee bent and drop the heel, this targets the soleus muscle of the calf. This stretch targets the calf muscles, which when it becomes very tight can cause foot pain and heel pain.
  • Neck stretch – While sitting, turn the neck to 45 degrees on to right side and with right hand hold opposite end of head and press gently downwards. Hold the stretch and repeat on opposite side. Sitting in online meetings can cause tightness of neck which can lead to neck pain.
  • World’s greatest stretch – Step forward with right leg into a lunge. As one goes down, place the left hand on the floor so it’s even with the right foot. Move the right elbow inside the right foot, and rest it on the floor. Stretch will be felt on squaring the hips, and try to keep the back as flat as possible. Move the right hand outside the right foot, and twist to reach for the sky. As told in the name one of the best stretches to be done, it targets different parts of the body in a single stretch. Hold each section of the stretch for few seconds and take deep breaths. This stretch helps in mobility and relieves tightness near the hips and thoracic spinal region which gets tight on sitting in meeting or doing household works.

In case of history of back pain or neck pain, kindly obtain clearance from your doctor before practicing these stretches.