When we think of stress, we typically think of our mental and emotional state of being. However, the body can also feel stress physically. You may notice pain in your back and hips from sitting too much at work. You may feel tension in your jaw after an emotional hardship or stressful period in your life. You may detect a slight ache in your neck from craning over your computer all day. Your stress can show up physically in your body in various ways and can be accompanied by numerous other symptoms including:
Low energy. Headaches. Chest pains. Digestive Issues. Increased heart rate. Trouble sleeping. Increased likelihood of infections and illness. And more!
These symptoms alongside physical aches and pains are signs to pay better attention to how stress shows up in your life and on your body so that you can begin an appropriate treatment plan. Stretching your normal areas of tension is one of the ways to treat your physical stress. Below is a list of common areas of tension and a stretch to help you begin determine the most effective action plan to treat your stress.
Ragdoll Low Back Stretch
Start by standing upright with your feet 6-12 inches apart. Slowly fold at your hip forward and down toward the floor. Once folded, bring your chest toward your lap and fully your head and neck. For a deeper stretch you can rest your hands at the backs of your ankles or calves or in true “ragdoll” fashion, simply grab each elbow with the opposite hand and just relax in your stretch. Hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds.
Side Neck Stretch
Sitting upright, place your left palm on the right top side of your head. Gently pull your head down, taking your left ear down toward your left shoulder. Be sure to avoid tilting your body, rather focus on just the neck moving. Find a good stretch on the side of your neck as you breathe and hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Doorway Chest Stretch
Begin standing in the center of a doorway with your feet in a staggered stance so your base is stable. Reach with your arms in a low field goal-like shape and place your palms on the walls of each side of the doorway. With your gaze straight ahead, gently press your palms into the wall as you lean forward allowing the chest to open. While taking deep breaths, hold your stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3x.
Across the Body Shoulder Stretch
Sitting upright, reach both hands out in front of you. Cusp your left elbow from underneath using your right hand. Use your right hand to pull your left arm inward, closer to your chest. Once your left arm is at your chest, gently pull your left arm across your body and shrug your left shoulder down to feel a good stretch in your left shoulder and upper back. Hold as you take fluid breaths in and out for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3x.
Standing upright, place your left hand on your left hip and reach your right arm straight overhead. Using your right hand, reach over and up to the left side of your body as you softly tilt at your hip. Take fluid inhales and exhales as you hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3x on each side.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey