When you’re feeling under the weather and all you want to do is curl up on the couch, it can be hard to motivate yourself to do anything, let alone gentle stretches. But trust us, taking just a few minutes to move your body can make a big difference in how you feel.

As you lay there on the couch, close your eyes and imagine your body as a tangled knot. Your muscles are tight, your energy is low, and you just can’t seem to shake this sick feeling. But what if we told you that you could begin to unravel that knot and start feeling better by simply moving your body?

Gentle stretches help to increase blood flow and oxygen to the body, which can help to boost your immune system and fight off sickness. They also help to release tension in the muscles, which can alleviate aches and pains, making it easier for you to rest and sleep.

In addition to physical benefits, gentle stretches can also help to improve your mental and emotional well-being. When you move your body, you release endorphins, which are the “feel-good” hormones in your body. These endorphins can help to reduce stress and anxiety, making you feel more relaxed and calm.

Here are a few of our favorite couch stretches for you to try:

Foot and ankle stretches:

  • Point your toes.
  • Flex your toes and arch your feet up.
  • Circle your ankles, both clockwise and counterclockwise. Try both with your toes pointed and flexed.
  • Tilt your ankles inwards so that your toes point together, then tilt them outwards so that your heels are almost together.
  • Have some fun and spell different words with your feet, one letter at a time. (This is also a common rehab exercise!)

Hip stretches:

  • Plant one foot firmly on the floor. Cross the opposite leg over so that your ankle is resting on the knee of the foot that is planted. Lean forward or backward until you feel a satisfying stretch. Repeat on the other side.
  • Lift your leg up so that it is parallel to the ground. Rotate your ankle so that your toes point either towards the left, then repeat on the right.
  • If there is enough room on your chair or couch, bend your legs and bring your feet together to form a diamond sit. Vary the stretch by bringing your feet closer to you or by pressing on your knees with your elbows to open up your hips.
  • Extend your leg out beside you on the couch or out towards a footstool. Reach forward to touch your toes. (Ensure that your ankle is not higher than your hip to prevent injury.)
  • Slide to the edge of the couch and extend your leg out to the side, keeping your foot on the floor. Extend your leg until you feel a nice stretch.

Back stretches:

  • Sit up straight and tilt to the side, elongating your side.
  • Rotate your torso, using the back of your seat if you need to. Use caution, as you can over-rotate if you twist too hard.
  • Curve your shoulders inward and lean forward, rounding your back. (Think of this as an upright, seated version of the Cat pose.)
  • Grab your hands together behind your back and arch backward slightly.
  • Combine elements of these stretches, such as tilting one way as you rotate another. This will allow you to stretch more muscles in your back.

Arm stretches:

  • Extend your arms straight out to the sides, making a “t” shape.
  • With your arms extended out to the side, rotate your hands so that your palms are facing different directions, from facing up, to in front, to facing down, to behind you. Notice each different muscle group that is involved in each stretch!
  • Circle your arms forward or backward. You can do this either with one arm at a time, both arms going in the same direction, or each arm going in an opposite direction at the same time. Adjust the size of your circle to the room you have to move in.
  • Raise your arms so that your elbows are parallel to your shoulders, with your hands pointing towards the roof. From here, extend your arms above your head and slowly bring them back to your starting position.
  • Release your inner octopus and make ‘waves’ out of your arms. This helps to promote circulation, activates several muscles, and helps you not take life too seriously! 🙂

Wrist stretches:

  • Circle your wrists, both clockwise and counter clockwise.
  • Flex your wrists, so that your fingers point up and that you see the backs of your hands.
  • Bend your wrists down, with your fingers pointing towards the floor.
  • Bring your fingertips to your shoulders.
  • Extend both arms straight out, with your palms facing together. Tilt your wrists down toward the floor or up toward the ceiling.

Shoulder stretches:

  • Slowly, shrug your shoulders, bringing your shoulders towards your ears and then back down to their starting position.
  • Extend your arms and clasp your hands together above your head.
  • Bend one arm behind your head, with your other arm gently pressing your bent elbow towards the floor. Repeat on the other side.
  • Sit up straight and pull your shoulder blades together.
  • Extend your arms behind you slightly, with your palms facing up.

Neck stretches:

  • Tilt each ear towards the corresponding shoulder.
  • Look up towards the roof.
  • Tilt your head to look at your belly.
  • Rotate your head to look over either shoulder.
  • Combine these stretches to enhance them, such as looking down towards your belly while you tilt your ear towards your shoulder.

As you continue to read this, you can feel your body slowly begin to unravel the knots of tension, your muscles begin to relax, and your energy start to rise. You can feel yourself becoming more and more relaxed, and the sickness becoming less and less prominent. You can feel the benefits of stretching and the power of your own body to heal itself.

So, the next time you’re feeling sick, don’t forget to take a few minutes to do some gentle stretches. Your body will thank you, and you will start to feel better in no time. Go ahead and give it a try, and you’ll see the benefits for yourself.