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Stretching Before Bed

Why should I stretch before bed?

Stretching before bed is beneficial for everyone, but especially for those who have trouble falling asleep or have nights full of restless sleep. Stretching before bed relieves muscle tension, de-stresses the body and mind, provides more restful sleep, and helps your body recover and regenerate.

How can stretching help with pain?

One of the most common places for musculoskeletal pains is the back, upper or lower. Granted there are a plethora of reasons for back pain, but stretching might be an option to help with pain relief.

If you are experiencing pain in your upper back, try stretching out your chest and shoulders. And if you are experiencing lower back pain, try stretching your hamstrings, hip flexors, pirifomis, and your illiotibial (IT) band.While these might seem contradictory because you are not addressing the problem area directly, it can actually be extremely beneficial. Muscle imbalances are common in most individuals.

So, for example, if you are sitting hunched over a computer all day for work, chances are your chest and the front of your shoulders are tight. This pulls your shoulders forward, and puts a strain on your upper back. So, stretching out the chest and the shoulders helps loosen up those muscles and provide some relief for the area on the back it is pulling on. The same goes for just about every muscle group in the body. If you separate the body into four parts – front, back, right, and left, you want to make sure each of these parts is balanced. Stretching is an easy way to work towards achieving that balance.

Are you stretching enough?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults should do flexibility training at least 2 or 3 days per week. Each stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds, and then repeated two to four times, totaling around 60 seconds for each. Holding these stretches doesn’t have to hurt. Only go until you start to feel a little bit of tension, and then hold it there. Play around with it and see if you can go into your stretch a little deeper after holding it for a few seconds, or after already doing a repetition or two.

What are some stretches I can do at home before bed?

You can stretch pretty much anywhere, at any time. Your muscles respond a little better to stretching when they are warmer. So, try taking a warm shower or bath before you stretch.

Here are some stretches you can do before bed:

stretch before bed exercise 1 beacon health and fitness

Standing upright, place your leg up onto a table (or chair, bed, counter, etc.). You’ll want to have your knee at a 90° angle. The goal is for your knee to be flat on the table – so adjust the height of the table (or switch to a lower surface) if needed. Then you’ll want to hinge at the hip and drive your hips back while keeping your leg in the same place. Think of it like you’re trying to kiss your heel.  Repeat with other leg.

stretch before bed exercise 2 beacon health and fitness

Lie flat on the ground with your left leg straight out, and right leg bent and crossed over your left side as shown. Slowly press your left arm against your right crossed leg to apply pressure to the point of tension. Repeat with the left leg bent.

stretch before bed exercise 3 beacon health and fitness

Stand against an object and form a 90° angle with your armpit and a 90° angle with your  elbow as shown. Slowly lean forward and away from the stationary arm until a slight stretch is felt in the front of the shoulder and chest. Repeat with other arm.

stretch before bed exercise 4 beacon health and fitness

Flex your hip and knee both to 90°. Keep your toes pulled up towards your shin, as you pull your knee towards your chest. Your lower back should not move.

Visit the fitness desk at either location to talk with a Fitness Specialist for other stretches or more instructions on the following exercises.

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