If you've been shoveling snow lately or simply want to keep your spine and shoulders limber and pain-free, taking time to stretch (especially during winter!) is so crucial.
Our shoulders and back can get really tight in the colder months, especially the major muscles you work if you have to shovel all that snow. These stretches will minimize soreness and increase your chances for the quickest snowpocalytic recovery possible.
Stay warm, stay hydrated, and remember to get plenty of rest. One of my favorite asanas happens right on the couch, where I lay down for extended periods of time and get nice and cozy with a good book or a movie.
Here are five super important post-shoveling stretches to minimize your aching back and shoulders, and work out those tight, winter kinks.
Eagle Wrap Arms
This pose is great for releasing tension in your upper back. Bring your arms in front of you 90 degrees, with your elbows at shoulder-height. If this is enough of a stretch for the shoulders and upper back, stay here.
If you need more of a stretch, drop the left elbow below the right and intertwine the forearms, pressing the back of the palms together. The key to releasing the upper back muscles is to keep the elbows lifted at equal height to the shoulders, and the shoulders as relaxed and low as possible.
Take 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
This stretch is for your lower back. Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Place your right hand on your right hip. Lift the left arm up and then to the right.
Take 10 deep breaths here, using your breath to expand the left ribs to deepen the stretch. Switch sides.
Crescent Lunge is perfect for releasing your psoas — the largest hip flexor muscle. It runs up the front of the hip, cuts through the abdominal cavity and attaches to the lower lumbar spine. Stretching the psoas not only gives you a hip flexor stretch, it can also release lower back tightness.
Stand in a lunge position, with your right foot forward and the right knee bent at 90 degrees. Tuck your tailbone forward to intensify as you raise the arms overhead, relaxing the shoulders down the back.
Stay here for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
Forward Bend With Arm Twist
Stand with your feet hips-width apart. Bend forward to a comfortable level, lifting your arms up behind you. Rotate the thumbs in (toward the center line) and then out, for a nice deep stretch in your biceps.
Hold for 10 deep breaths.
Release your chest muscles in this simple pose.
As you head inside from all your hard work, stand in the doorway and put your right arm out at 90 degrees. Press your palm, forearm and elbow against the doorframe and twist your chest gently to the left.
Stay for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
Photos courtesy of the author