Before starting every session at Wallace Fitness™ we ask our clients how they are feeling, how their bodies are feeling. Something that we hear often that occasionally plays a role in our training is that the client was unable to sleep the night before.
Poor sleep quality is very common, even more so during times of stress. Wanting to find a simple and easy way to help our clients improve their sleep quality our trainers suggest doing some gentle stretches before bed. There are a wide variety of benefits of stretching before bed such as reduced muscle tension, improved relaxation, increased flexibility and more.
It’s safe to say most people sit more than intended throughout the day, especially now that so many of us are working from home. Sitting contracts our legs and creates a build up of tension that spreads throughout the body, calves, hips, hamstrings, and all the way up the back and neck.
During the time spent stretching allow yourself to only focus on your body and your breath. This time of awareness will increase the benefits of the stretching and help with a restful sleep. Listed below are some gentle stretches that can be performed on a mat or in bed before going to sleep.
- Neck Stretches: Sit up nice and tall with your legs in a comfortable position. With your arms by your side gently stretch your neck to one side by bringing your ear towards your shoulder. Hold for a few deep breaths, then slowly release and repeat on the other side.
- Knee to Chest: Lie back onto either the mat or bed. Bring one knee into the chest and smoothly rock it from side to side, to manage the hip joint. Throughout the time stretching, make a mental note to focus on the breath. Nice slow breaths in and out. Switch to the other side and repeat the gentle rocking back and forth. Then extend both legs out.
- Spinal Twist: The lower back carries a lot of tension and tightness throughout the day. Bring one knee into the chest and then twist bringing the knee across the body. Feel free to extend both arms out to the side to add a stretch for the chest. Repeat on the other side nice and slowly.
- Child’s Pose: Bring yourself into the fetal position and press yourself up to seated from being flat. Sit on your heels and extend your arms over your head then bring yourself down over your knees with your arms reaching forward. If you can rest your forehead on the mat or the bed. Think of elongating your spine.
- Legs up the Wall: While lying in bed with your arms out to the sides, bring your heels up on the wall with your legs as straight as possible. This is one of the best stretches for circulation and reduced stress, by brining your legs above your heart this helps reduce swelling in the feet and can improve vein health. Hold this pose for as long as you can comfortably, but at least 30 seconds. Then slowly bend the knees and turn over to your side in order to slide away from the wall.
- Reclined Figure Four Stretch: This last stretch is for the piriformis and glutei which get tight throughout the day. Place your ankle across the opposite knee, creating an opening between both knees. Reach through and grab onto the leg that isn’t crossing the other. Slowly lie back bringing your legs with you, take nice deep breaths focusing on releasing the tension in the glutei. Uncross your legs and repeat on the opposite side.
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