Use these five simple stretches to improve digestion.
If you're like most of us, you’ve indulged in summertime BBQs, cold beers and fun meals out the last couple months. All this indulgence is excellent in the moment but can be tough on your waistline — and your digestion — as your body tries to keep up with your intake. Like they say, you are what you eat, and if you’re eating poorly, your gut (and your butt) will suffer.
Aside from cleaning up your eating act and double-dosing on probiotics, take a few minutes each day to optimize your digestion through movement. Stretches such as twists, side bends and forward folds create gentle pressure on your stomach and intestines to encourage circulation, reduce bloating and relieve overall abdominal pressure. Stretching also decreases stress, which allows your gut to rest and take a breather from its 24/7 job.
Do this quick and easy stretching routine each day, breathing slowly in and out through your nose, and give your gut some love. With each breath you take, try to stretch a little farther.
Seated Spinal Twist
Targets: Lower back, stomach and intestines
Sit with your left leg extended, and place your right foot fl at on the floor next to your left knee. Sit up tall and wrap your left arm around your right knee, and place your right hand on the floor just behind your glutes. Draw your knee in toward your belly as you twist your head, shoulders and torso to the right. Hold 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
Seated Forward Fold
Targets: Hamstrings and abdominal cavity
Sit tall with your legs straight out in front of you, ankles together, feet flexed. Fold forward by hinging at your hips, sliding your hands along your legs toward your feet. Hold and breathe at tight points, allowing your body to go farther into the stretch as your muscles release. Do for up to two minutes.
Seated Side Stretch
Targets: Lats, obliques and intestines
Sit up tall with your legs comfortably crossed. Raise your left arm straight up overhead, and place your right hand on the floor next to your hips for support. Lift up and out of your rib cage and then slowly lean to the right side, pressing down into your left hip as you ease into the stretch. Hold for 45 seconds, then switch sides.
Reclined Spinal Twist
Targets: Lower back, chest and stomach
Lie faceup with your right leg extended and pull your left knee into your chest. Extend your left arm to the side in line with your shoulder, palm down, and use your right hand to draw your left knee across your body toward the floor. Relax your shoulders, look toward your left hand and hold for one minute. Do on both sides.
Targets: Full body
Lie faceup with your legs extended and your arms along your sides, palms up. Close your eyes and focus on relaxing from head to toe as you breathe slowly through your nose for two to five minutes.
Written by Stephanie Main, NASM-CPT, CF-L2, 500-HOUR YT for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.