We've all experienced the midday slump — that time of day when our energy drops, leaving us sluggish. Often we feel desperate for a quick fix.
Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare, says, "The solution to this slump is simpler than we think: take a midday stretch break."
"By incorporating stretches into your midday routine, you will reduce stiffness and pain, improve your mood, and restore your energy and alertness," she explains. "Stretching also helps improve flexibility and range of motion in the joints, which reduces stiffness and pain in tight muscles, leads to decreased risk of injury, and allows muscles to work more effectively."
"Whether you are sitting or standing all day, you should aim for a few minutes in the middle of your day to perform a few simple stretches," Hays says.
She suggests these four simple midday stretches to boost your energy:
1. Neck rolls
Neck rolls can alleviate discomfort or stiffness associated with neck strain, as well as relieve muscle tension.
- Begin with your head straight and look forward.
- Gently tilt your head to the left side and start rolling it back in a circle.
- Bring your head up to the starting position. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
- As you find tight spots, hold and breathe, letting your breathing release any tightness.
- Switch to the opposite side for 3 to 5 repetitions.
2. Behind-the-back neck stretch
The behind-the-back neck stretch offers relief to neck tightness and soreness.
- Stand up straight, with both arms at your sides.
- Reach both hands behind your back and hold onto your left wrist with your right hand.
- Use your right hand to gently pull the left arm to the right and slowly lower your right ear toward your shoulder.
- Hold for a few deep breaths.
- Relax back to your starting position.
- Switch hands and repeat, tilting head to the opposite side.
3. Cross-body reach
The cross-body reach stretches shoulder muscles and promotes overall range of motion in the shoulder.
- Extend your left arm across your chest and gently press your right hand on the left elbow.
- Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Release and repeat on the opposite arm.
- Repeat on each side one more time.
4. Seated pigeon pose
The seated pigeon pose is a great way to stretch the hamstrings, as well as open the hips and release the back.
- Sit up straight in a chair with your back off the chair and feet flat on the floor.
- Bring one leg over the other, ankle to knee.
- Inhale and slowly lean forward as far as you can from the hips. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Switch leg positions and repeat.
"Midday stretching offers many positive effects on our emotional and physical health," says Hays. "But be careful not to overdo it. Stretching should be comfortable and never be forced to the point of pain. If you cannot relax into a stretch or if you feel severe discomfort, decrease the intensity of the stretch or discontinue the stretch entirely."
Rise and shine with these morning energy-boosting stretches from Olga Hays.