If you’ve been shoveling snow lately (thanks, #Blizzardof2015!), here are the five most important post-shoveling stretches to minimize an aching back and sore muscles later.
1. Release your upper back: Eagle Arms.
Bring the arms in front of you at a 90-degree angle, elbows at shoulder-height. If this is enough of a stretch for the shoulders/upper back, stay here. If you need more of s stretch, drop the left elbow below the right and twine the forearms, pressing the back of the palms together. The key to releasing the upper back muscles is to keep the elbows lifted–equal height to the shoulders–and the shoulders as relaxed and low as possible. Take ten deep breaths and switch sides.
2. Stretch your lower back: Modified Half Moon Pose.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place your right hand on your right hip. Lift the left arm up and then to the right. Take ten deep breaths here, using your breath to expand the left ribs, deepening the stretch. Switch sides.
3. Release your psoas: Crescent Lunge.
The psoas is the largest hip flexor muscle. It runs up the front of the hip, cuts through the abdominal cavity and attaches to the lower lumbar spine. Stretching the psoas not only gives you a hip flexor stretch, it can also release lower back tightness. Stand in a lunge position, with your right foot forward and the right knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Tuck your tailbone forward to intensify. Stay for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
4. Stretch your arms: Forward Bend with Arm Twist. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend forward to a comfortable level, lifting your arms up behind you. Rotate the thumbs in (toward the center line) and then out to stretch your biceps.
5. Release your chest muscles: Doorway Pose.
As you head in from all your hard work, stand in the doorway and put your right arm out at a ninety-degree angle. Press your palm, forearm, and elbow against the doorframe and twist your chest gently to the left. Stay for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
Taking time to stretch all the major muscles you’ve just worked will minimize soreness and increase your chances for the quickest snowpocalytic recovery possible. Stay warm, stay hydrated, and remember the most important pose of all: couch-asana, which should be done lying down and for an extended amount of time.
*Thank you to my co-snowga photographer and model, STC