What better way to finish a week of bedtime stretches than with a stretch that requires you to be laying down in bed (knees to chest).
This one is simple and will stretch your lower back to prepare you for sleep.
This stretch is good for more than low-back muscle release. As a range of motion exercise, in other words, a movement that increases your joint flexibility, the knees-to-chest stretch may help reduce stiffness associated with spinal arthritis and/or spinal stenosis.
Steps for knees to chest
Lying on your back in bed simply pull both knees toward your chest with your hands either on top of your knees or in behind them.
Hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds.
Now let your legs down from your chest, lie flat on your back with your arms by each side and take 10 slow and controlled breaths to really calm your body and prepare for sleep.
A rag doll stretch will help to relax the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and hamstrings. I recommend it for everyone, but especially those who suffer from low back pain, since the stretch lengthens the hamstrings to relieve tension in the low back. It’s really important to keep a micro-bend in the knees to protect the hamstrings, and as always work within a pain-free range.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
Place right hand on left elbow, left hand on right elbow.
Bend over from hips, letting arms and head hang down.
Hold this rag doll position for 8 to 10 breaths. Gently roll back up.
In addition to stretching the spine, ragdoll pose:
This movement combines squat mobility with hamstring and adductors stretch making it a very efficient drill to throw into your warm-up.
STEPS for adductors stretch
1) Stand side on to the bed and place your knee on the bed, with the other leg straight and supporting your body.
2) Stand tall and gently push your hips forward to stretch the front of the hip of the leg that’s on the bed.
3) Now bend forward and reach toward the leg on the floor to stretch the inner thigh (adductors).
As with the first 2 days BREATHE OUT as you change position. As you hold the stretch you BREATHE IN. Then BREATHE OUT again as you revert to the original position.
Hold a stretch in each position 10 times and do the other side.
Time to focus on stretching the glutes and back of the hip with the pigeon pose. This can be an easier option than the classic glute stretch while lying on your back since you don’t have to get down on the floor.
Pigeon Pose specifically works as a hip opener and forward bend, stretching your thighs, groin, back, piriformis, and psoas. The leg extended to the rear gets a stretch of the psoas and other hip flexors. On the other side, the rotators and outer hip are stretched. It is a good antidote to sitting for long periods. It prepares you for seated postures and backbends.
STEPS for pigeon stretch
Place one leg on the bed with your knee bent at 90 degrees and your shin in front of your body.
Lean forward toward your knee until you feel a pigeon stretch.
Shift your weight a bit so you are leaning toward your foot.
Hold each position along the way that feels tight for about 20 seconds.
Keep your breathing slow and controlled as you do this pigeon stretch.
BEDTIME STRETCHES: Up/down dog for hamstrings (2/7)
Combining stretching with gentle breathing before bed is a great way to calm your nervous system to prepare for sleep and work on mobility at the same time. This is an easier variation of the classic up/down dog because if you are tight in the back and hamstrings like me, the classic version is rough.
STEPS for up/down hamstrings stretch…
1) Place your hands on the bed with your feet about half your body length or so from the bed.
2)Keep the knees and elbows STRAIGHT and move the hips backward as you EXHALE to stretch the BACK and HAMSTRINGS.
3) Hold the stretch and INHALE.
4) Keeping the knees and elbows STRAIGHT now move the hips toward the bed as you EXHALE to stretch the FRONT of the body.
5) Hold the stretch and INHALE.
6) Repeat step 2 through 5 so you hold each position 10 times.
As with day one you BREATHE OUT as you change position. As you hold the hamstrings stretch you BREATHE IN. Then BREATHE OUT again as you revert to the original position.
Combining stretching with gentle breathing before bed is a great way to calm your nervous system to prepare for sleep and work on mobility at the same time. Killing two birds with one stone is always good in a busy schedule. Speaking of killing two birds the first stretch of the week does just that, stretching the hamstring and the front of the hip.
Place one foot on the bed as if you are going to step up onto the bed, the other foot behind with toes pointing forward.
1) Lean into the hip to stretch the front of the hip as you slowly EXHALE.
2) Hold the stretch as you slowing INHALE.
3) As you EXHALE again straighten the knee of the top leg and lean into a hamstring stretch.
4) hold the stretch as you slowly INHALE.
5) As you EXHALE return to the hip flexor stretch (step one).
To put it simply as you BREATHE OUT you will change position. As you hold the stretch you BREATHE IN.
Don’t over complicate it, basically, we are combining controlled breathing and controlled stretching to calm your system before sleep.