If You've Got Tight Shoulders, Hips, and Muscles, These 9 Poses Will Stretch Them Out
Take a moment and do a quick body scan. Are your shoulders rounded and up by your ears? How do your hips feel? Have you been sitting all day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could benefit from taking a moment to show your body some TLC. Whether you’re feeling tightness in your shoulders, hips, or back, your muscles and alignment are probably a little out of whack. We rounded up yoga-teacher-approved stretches that will help you relax and improve your posture if performed consistently. Check them out ahead.
– Additional reporting by Lizzie Fuhr
“This pose supports the torso and gently stretches the spine,” Salila Sukumaran, 500-YT, told POPSUGAR. Sukumaran said your muscles will “melt” in this pose, with any knots or tension you may be experiencing returning to normal alignment. “This pose is very beneficial in relieving anxiety and bringing a feeling of calm and peace.” Sukumaran said you can do this pose as often as you’d like throughout the day and hold for as long as you’d like.
- Kneel on your mat with your knees hips-width distance apart and your big toes touching behind you. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, lay your torso over your thighs. Try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
- Rest your arms beside your legs, with palms facing up, or try extending your arms out in front of you.
Another pose Sukumaran recommends is Cobra Pose. She likes this pose because it strengthens your upper back, relieves pressure off of the lower back, and because it works your core and firms your glute muscles.
- Lie on your belly with your legs hips-width distance apart. Extend your arms straight out in front of you.
- As you lift your head up off the ground, begin to slowly walk your hands in, keeping your hips and thighs on the ground, but gently arching your lower back. Walk them in as far as you can, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
- Actively relax, keeping your gaze forward or lowering your head back between your shoulder blades. Stay here for five breaths, opening through the chest and abs, and then lower your torso back to the mat.
- Hold for three deep inhales and exhales. Repeat three times.
“This pose relaxes the shoulders and lengthens the spine, creating more space and ease between the vertebrae,” Sukumaran said. If you’re hunched over a computer, this is the pose for you, according to Sukumaran. You can do this pose as often as you’d like, but Sukumaran recommends not doing it if you’re menstruating or if you have heart issues.
- From Seated Straddle, slowly stand up with the feet hips-width distance apart.
- Fold the torso over the thighs, and hold the big toes with the first two fingers and thumbs of each hand. Pull the elbows out wide. If you can’t reach the toes yet, rest your hands as low as you can on the legs.
- Actively draw the shoulders away from the ears, using the abs to draw the torso closer to the legs rather than using your upper-body strength.
- Shift weight forward into the toes to intensify the stretch in the backs of the legs.
- Stay like this for five deep breaths, nodding the head up and down and side to side to release the neck. Every time you do this pose, see if you can reach a little lower.
“For most people, when our posture is compromised, our shoulders rise and our heads jut forward,” Tara Purnell, RYT-200, told POPSUGAR. Purnell likes this pose because it will strengthen your back, bringing awareness to weak areas. If you want to restore a healthy posture, focus on moves that open the heart and lengthen the spine, Purnell said.
- Lie flat on your belly with your legs together. Place your arms by your sides so your palms are facing up.
- As you inhale, lift your legs, head, and upper body off the floor. Your hands remain on the floor for support. As you breathe, extend the crown of your head away from your toes, lengthening as much as you can through your spine.
- Stay for five breaths, and then release back to the mat.
Supported Fish Pose
“Supported Fish is heavenly. With blocks lifting the heart and head, the shoulders naturally begin to hug the spine in this reclined position,” Purnell said. This pose is great for people who have been slouching for years, she explained.
- Lie on your mat with your back flat on the floor. Place a block beneath your midback and another beneath your head.
- Bring your arms close to your sides, palms facing down. Keeping your butt on the floor, inhale as you arch your back, pressing your hands and forearms into the ground.
- Keeping your legs strong, hold for five breaths, then relax your back.
Bridge pose will strengthen your glute muscles and help activate them, according to Adell Bridges, RYS-300. She recommends doing this move in the morning to activate your glutes for the day.
- Lie flat on your back with your arms along the sides of your body, with your palms facing down. Bend your knees, placing your heels as close as you can to your bum.
- With your palms and feet pressing firmly into the ground, lift your hips up. Keep your palms on the mat or clasp your hands together below your pelvis, extending through your arms. Or you can also bend your elbows and rest your hands on your lower back. If your feet are close enough, you can also hold your ankles.
- Hold for five to 10 seconds, rolling down from the top of the spine to the sacrum to rest in between sets.
- Repeat three times.
“This pose strengthens two areas that tend to become deconditioned by bad posture: the deep core muscles and the hip flexors,” Bridges explained. “By practicing this pose, we can begin to switch on our body’s natural intelligence and strength for holding ourselves in good posture,” she said.
- Once you’ve stepped back to Downward Facing Dog, gently lower your knees to the mat, and come to sit on your bottom. Bend your knees, and lift your feet off the floor, balancing on your tush.
- Keep the spine long, and straighten your legs as much as you can without rounding your back. If this is too hard, keep your knees bent – you’re still working your core.
- Hold for five complete breaths.