'I'm an exercise physiologist. If you're sore all the time, these are 5 stretches you need to be doing.'

Ever wake up in the morning and just feel like your body is... broken? Sore neck? Painful lower back? I feel you!

If you're anything like me, you'll probably nut it down to just getting older and niggling old injuries — but what if we were to tell you there's one simple tweak you could make to your routine?

Because let me ask you this: How often do you stretch? Like, really.

Chances are you do it rarely, if ever. (Don't worry, we're all on the same boat!). But a five-minute stretch on the daily could actually be the difference between a healthy, mobile body and one that's sore and stiff (not to mention all the other fun things like muscle damage, a weakened range of motion, etc. etc.).

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That's why Mamamia spoke to MOVE trainer, exercise physiologist and female health specialist Noella Green form Shifting Health to find out the best stretches for sore bodies (all of us).

Here's what she told us.

Why is stretching so important?

A good place to start, no? According to Green, the human body is designed to move. However, thanks to our often sedentary lifestyles and work commitments, most of us don't do a lot of it.


"We have bones that provide our structure and muscles that pull on bones (contract) which allow us to move. How efficiently we move is impacted by what we do in our daily life — how we use our body during the day, and then repeatedly over time," said Green.

"Our muscles are designed to contract and relax (traditionally shorten and lengthen respectively) through their natural length. Muscles also create tension, and tension is determined by the stress we put on them through movement or lack of movement. Think of people who go to the gym and do strength training — you can tell because they have muscles." 

If you sit or stand for long periods throughout the day, and do this most days of the week, you are actually training your muscles to change their natural length and ability to contract or relax, explained Green.

"You really notice this when you feel pain and tightness with your normal activities of daily living or even the stuff you love such as physical activity, getting in and out of the car, dancing, shopping, picking up after the kids," Green said. 

Anyone else hard relate?!

Green goes on to explain that stretching helps your muscles regain their natural length and ability to contract and relax. 

"In short, the longer you stay in a prolonged posture, you are training your muscles into a dysfunctional length. Which means they don't work as efficiently when it comes to moving. This is when you start to feel niggles, aches and pain that eventually lead to injury and also to illness."


What are some common issues you see in your clinic?

As an exercise physiologist, Green told us there are a few common issues she tends to see on the regular when clients walk through her clinic with pain. 

"I see a combination of lower back pain and lower body joint pain that a client has put up with for some time. Clients present with weight loss or weight gain, and a platter of various emotions because they don't know what to do," she said. 

"When we break down what their days look like — from work and family, to menstrual cycle (or lack of) and pregnancy to post-partum situation, sleep, nutrition and treatment history — we find out pretty fast they're doing too much or simply not enough of what their body needs to simply rest and digest."

"My clients are commonly prioritising other parts of their life (totally fine) but to the detriment of their own health and happiness." 

AKA pretty much all women.

One of the most common causes? Prolonged postures.

"Sitting for hours on end at work, constantly being on your feet at home (making sure clothes are washed, folded and put away, dishes are put away, the house is cleaned), being a live-in-chef until the family gets home to destroy it all and you have to start all over again."


So, when do people get a moment for themselves, and not feel guilty about it?

"I will always say, stop and take a breath. If you can't take a moment for you, then nobody gets the best of you. Take that moment, for self-care... stretch, move different and do what makes you feel good."

What are the best stretches to do daily?

Don't know where to start? Green has you covered with five stretches everyone should work into their daily routine.

"Each stretch should be held for at three breaths. At the end of each deep breath, try to push a little more length into that stretch. Stretch to discomfort but never pain."

Green also said to remember it may take consistent stretching to improve your range of motion — so just keep this in mind.

Here are Green's go-to favourite stretches:

1. Sacro-iliac joint (SIJ) rolls.

"Lying on your back, hugging your knees and rolling from side to side. Enjoy the stretch and massage on your lower back," explained Green. Can you tell why SIJ is our personal favourite?!

2. Seated side reach.

"Sitting with your legs crossed, place one on the ground beside you and reach the other hand as far as possible over your head while keeping your chest open," explained Green. "Take three big, slow breaths and then change sides."

3. Hip flexor stretch.

For this one, Green recommends popping a towel under your knee. In a kneeling position, with one knee up and the other directly under the hips, she said to "push your body weight onto the front bent knee, stretching out the hip flexors on the knee on the ground and under your hip. Tuck your tail bone for a greater stretch."


Take three deep breaths and changes sides. 

4. Seated glute stretch.

"On a chair, place your ankle onto the opposite knee, making a '4' shape. Place your hands on your shin and lean forward. Take three breaths and changes sides." 

5. Crucifix.

"Lying on your back, feet on the ground, knees bent, place your arms out to side on ground," explained Green.

"Drop knees to one side and look to the opposite arm. Try to keep your shoulder on the ground. Take three breaths and change sides."

"For the geeks out there, Newton's third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Stretching is one component of moving well — you also need to activate muscles to keep moving well."

And that, friends is a whole other discussion.

"Most importantly, prioritise YOU so the people you love get the best of you!"

No matter what your day is looking like, MOVE by Mamamia has something that'll work with your routine and leave you feeling good. Head here to start your free trial.

Are you a fan of stretching? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Instagram/@_theshiftingep.