Stretches for Every Body

With quarantine came a completely new lifestyle, one where we're finding ways to practice caring for our bodies without heading to the gym, working out alongside a trainer, or headed to a group fitness class.

We turned to Ori customer Hannah Bariola who just so happens to be a Kinesiologist and master stretcher, stretching clients for a living (when it's considered safe to touch others, of course) to get her tips on keeping a stretch regimen while staying home. Plus, in all of her below photos, she's wearing The Perfect Tee

 

 

Written by Hannah Bariola

The question I get asked the most is, "Why should I stretch?" And my answer is always the same: it helps you feel better.

Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, healthy, and strong, which is what your body needs to function at an optimal level. Regular stretching can also help decrease pain, improve posture, increase range of motion, prevent injury, lessen muscle soreness, decrease stress levels, improve circulation, and enhance overall performance. Personally, I notice I have more energy and that I sleep much better when I'm in a stretching routine. 

Here is an easy routine to stretch your entire body, while at home. All you need is your body, a place to lay down, and a strap. That strap can be a belt, a necktie, a sash from your favorite Ori dress, a resistance band, or even a towel. 

Stretching rules of thumb:

  • Breathe through the stretches, don't hold your breath.
  • Try to relax as much as you can!
  • Whatever you stretch on one side, stretch on the other.
  • You should feel tension, a light pull, but never any pain when stretching. If it's painful, stop.
  • Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, but the yoga inspired poses can be held for between 30-60 seconds.
  • Drink plenty of water after stretching.

Let's get started!

Hamstring Stretch with Strap

There are many ways to stretch your hamstrings but my favorite way is using a strap and laying on my back. I feel that the stretch is much deeper than just trying to touch your toes from standing. 

Loop your strap around your foot and extend toward the sky while laying on your back. To increase intensity and add a calf stretch, point your toes toward your face and hold.

Hannah plus size hamstring stretch

 

Adductor Stretch with Strap

Your adductors, or inner thighs, can also get a great stretch from this same laying down position. From the hamstring stretch, lower your leg away from the body and feel the stretch along the inner thigh. 

Hannah plus size adductor stretch

 

Lying Piriformis Stretch with Strap

The piriformis is a muscle deep in the glute, or booty, and loosening this muscle can help with sciatica and lower back pain. Take your right leg and bend the knee, laying the right ankle across the left thigh so your legs form a figure 4. Then loop your strap (or your hands) around the back of the left thigh and gently pull your legs in. This stretch can take some practice so ease into it, and be sure to do both sides.

Hannah - plus size piriformis stretch

 

 

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Start off positioning your body into a low lunge. If you have sensitive knees, feel free to put some padding like a blanket under your back knee. You should feel this stretch in the front of your hip, where I'm pointing in the photo.

Hannah - plus size kneeling hip flexor stretch

 

Sitting Trunk Rotation

This one is great for spine flexibility. While in a seated position with your legs out in front of you, place your right foot on the opposite side of your left leg, then take your left elbow to your right knee and turn your upper body to the right with your right hand on the floor behind you. Be sure to rotate from the middle. 

Hannah - plus size sitting trunk rotation

Hannah - plus size sitting trunk rotation

 

Butterfly Stretch

This seated stretch focuses on your groin and hips. If you're tight in those places, be careful not to overstretch. But if the stretch feels too easy, try leaning forward into the stretch for a deeper sensation.

Hannah - plus size butterfly stretch

Hannah - plus size butterfly stretch 2

 

Sitting Side Stretch

This you-can-do-it-anywhere stretch (I mean it, in a chair, on the couch, on an airplane, anywhere!) focuses on the quadratus lumborum or the QL, which is the deepest abdominal muscle found in your lower back, between the top of the pelvis and lower rib. This muscle supports good posture and helps stabilize your spine when you bend to the side or extend the lower back. 

Take your right hand, place it on your left knee. Lift your left hand up and over your head and reach to the right side as you feel the stretch on your left. 

Hannah - plus size side stretch

 

 

Cat/Cow Pose

Alternating between cat and cow pose is a fantastic way to stretch the lower back. Start on all fours, then for cat pose arch your back and tuck your chin to your chest. From there, gently move into cow pose by letting your belly hang low toward the ground and looking up to the sky. Inhale in cow, exhale in cat. 

Hannah - plus size cat pose

Hannah - plus size cow pose

 

Child's Pose

This is one of the most relaxing poses in my opinion, and a great way to stretch the spine, lower back, and hips. After a few rounds of cat/cow, relax down into child's pose for a few breaths. 

Hannah - plus size child's pose

 

Shoulder Flossing

Pick up your strap (or necktie, towel, belt, whatever you've got!) and position your hands in a wide grip that is comfortable for your shoulders to rotate forward and back. With the strap taught between your hands, move your arms from forward to backward, then from back to front again. 

Hannah - plus size shoulder flossing stretch

Hannah - plus size shoulder flossing stretch

Hannah - plus size shoulder flossing stretch

Hannah - plus size shoulder flossing stretch

 

Hug Yourself

Not only to show yourself a little love, which you totally deserve, but also for a really wonderful upper back stretch! Hug your arms around yourself then round your back and feel the stretch between your shoulder blades.

Hannah - plus size hug yourself stretch

Hannah - plus size hug yourself stretch

 

Behind The Back Clasp

If you're sitting in a chair, you can grab ahold of the back of your chair with both hands and arch your back to stretch through the chest. If you're not on a chair with a back, you can use a strap. Or if you have enough mobility in your arms and shoulders, you can grab opposite hands. 

Hannah - plus size back clasp stretch

In the above image I am stretching by clasping opposite hands.
Hannah - plus size back clasp stretch
In this image, I am using a strap.  

"W" Chest Stretch

Make a "W" with your arms by tucking your elbows into your sides and pointing your thumbs behind you. 

Hannah - plus size W chest stretch

 

Good Morning Stretch

Reach straight up, clasp your hands, and reach just like you would for a morning stretch. 

Hannah - plus size good morning stretch

 

Wrist Flexors and Extensors Stretch

First put your hand out in front of you with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling, and use your opposite hand to pull back on your fingers but not on the palm. After, point your fingers toward the ground and use your opposite hand to pull on the back of your hand.

Hannah - plus size wrist stretch

Hannah - plus size wrist stretch

 

Lateral Neck Stretch

Seated or standing, take your right ear to your right shoulder until you feel a light stretch. Sit on your left hand either facing up or down, whichever feels best to you. Put your right hand on your head and very gently pull to deepen the stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hannah - plus size lateral neck stretch

 

45 Degree Neck Stretch

Take your nose toward your right armpit. Sit on your left hand, facing up or down. Place your right hand on the back of your head and pull lightly until you feel a light stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hannah - plus size neck stretch

 

Forward Flexion Stretch

Tuck your chin to your chest. Interlace your fingers and put them on the back of your head. Lightly pull forward to feel a gentle stretch on the back of your neck. 

Hannah - plus size forward flexion neck stretch

 

Stay flexible and have fun with it! 

By Hannah Bariola
 ·
Hannah is a Kinesiologist and stretch master at StretchLabs, soon to be a certified personal trainer. She is a Mississippi girl living in Southern California and just so happens to be a wonderful Ori customer with great style.
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