The next time you're trying to cram holiday shopping, work deadlines and a workout into one day, take a moment for yourself. Brian Dorfman, a kinesiologist with 25 years of experience helping professional athletes, offers the following exercises to reduce stress and keep you from tightening up. For more stretching relief, try Dorfman's Flexibility Training DVD ($30, briandorfman.com).
Stretch No. 1
Sitting in a chair, inhale as you grab the left side of the chair with your left hand. On the exhale, lean your entire upper body to the right without lifting your left hip. Pause, then drop your head to the right side. Hold for a few breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
Stretch No. 2
Stand facing your desk. Place your right hand on the desk, turning your wrist so that your fingers point back toward you. Keep your palm flat on the desk while taking a few deep breaths. Repeat on the other side. "This is one of the most important stretches to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome," says Dorfman.
Stretch No. 3
Stand facing your desk. Take a step back with both feet, then lean forward, placing your elbows on the desk. Arch your back so that your torso is at a 90 degree angle from your legs, and feel the stretch in your hamstrings, hips and outer leg muscles. Keep your feet flat on the ground. To intensify the stretch, inhale as you lift one leg behind you to waist height, and exhale as you lower your leg. Repeat on the other side.
Stretch No. 4
For this energizing exercise, sit in a chair. Arch your spine and inhale as you raise your arms. Exhale as you release your arms down and straighten your spine.
Stretch No. 5
Sitting, place your feet flat on the floor. Slowly slide your heels back as far as you can toward the chair, without lifting your feet off the floor. Use this exercise to relieve tight calves and feet.