5 Effective Full-Body Stretches for When You’re Short on Time

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Karla Tafra

You’re done with your workout and you have to run to your next appointment, which basically leaves you with no time to stretch. Fortunately, there are some simple yet effective full-body stretches that you can perform in less than five minutes and still get all the benefits.

Stretching is important, especially after a hard workout. It helps improve blood circulation, also improves recovery and reduces pain. If you’re pressed for time, it’s important to learn which stretches are really safe rather than rushing through your normal routine and risking injury. Here are five great stretches to try after your next workout.

Downward dog walking

One of the best full-body stretches you can do after any type of workout is downward dog walk.
from. Start in a plank position, palms under your shoulders and push your hips back and up diagonally. Straighten your legs and feel your heels reach the floor.

Push the floor away from you and lower your shoulders to make room for your neck. Shake your head yes and no to make sure there is no tension. Then slowly begin to bend one leg and then the other, alternating with each inhale and exhale. Keep your spine straight during each movement and follow your breathing, moving in sync. Try to take 10-20 steps with each leg before exiting the pose.

yoga mat

Runner’s Lunge in two levels

This dynamic stretch is great for your legs and back, but also improves hip mobility and opens up your chest and shoulders. Place your palms on the mat under your shoulders and step your right foot in between them. Extend your left leg behind you and come high on the ball of your left foot.

Push the floor away from you and roll your shoulders up and back. Feel the space between your shoulder blades widen. You can use a yoga block if your hands don’t touch the floor easily. Activate your back leg by squeezing your quadriceps, feeling the stretch in your right hip, hamstring and left calf at the same time.

Stay here for three to five long breaths before dropping your left knee to the floor to perform a deeper stretch. Push your right knee away from you. If you want to take it one step further, move your right foot slightly to the side, allowing your hip to open up and extend even more. Stay here for three to five breaths in and out before repeating it all on the other side.

Upward dog to downward dog

Yoga sun salutations work the entire body, focusing on your spine, but basically stretching every muscle along the way.

Starting in a plank position, engage your core and push the mat away from you. Make sure to keep your hips aligned so they can’t fall or come up. Activate your quadriceps and feel the balls of your feet dig into the ground.

From here, take an inhale and exhale as you bend your elbows and get into a push-up position. On your next inhale, push your hips forward and let your torso pass through your arms. Look up as you open your shoulders and chest.

On your exhale, come out of your back bend and lift your hips to go into downward dog. This is an excellent stretch for your spine as it moves in all planes and creates space between each vertebra.

Resistance bands

side body stretch

Just like any other muscle group, those in your side need good stretches too. This exercise can help you use the power of your legs to stretch your upper body.

Start kneeling and stretch your left leg out to the side. Raise your arms and grab your right wrist with your left palm. Inhale and pull your right arm, bending your left leg.

You’ll feel the stretch on the entire right side of your body, from the iliotibial (IT) band, which runs from the outside of your hip to the outside of your thigh and knee, to the top of your shin, to your obliques and chest. Stay here for a few full breaths, then come back to center. Then repeat on the other side.

yoga belt

Seated Twists

Twists are a powerful recovery move because they allow new blood to flow through the body, which supplies oxygen to your cells. The seated version is usually the most effective as it gives you more control no matter how flexible your spine is.

Start in a seated position, with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and grab it with your left hand, crossing it over your body. Place your foot directly next to your outer thigh.

Then place your right hand behind your sit bones. Inhale and slowly turn your head toward the wall behind you. Push the floor away from you and use it as leverage to straighten your spine.

Try to expand from your sit bones to the crown of your head with each inhale. Try to move a little deeper into the twist with each exhale. Hold for three to five long inhalations and exhalations before repeating it all on the other side.

Stretching is one of those things that people skip when they are in a hurry. However, it helps your muscle recovery after a workout so they stay optimized and healthy. It also strengthens your joints and tendons. When you add these five stretches to the end of your routine, you can rest assured that your muscles are always getting a good cool-down.

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