Shadowbringers is fast approaching, and you’re ready - your time off work is approved, your snacks are prepared, and your alarm is set to wake up as soon as the servers go live. You can’t wait to devote your day to the new expansion, exploring a new world with your friends and learning what it takes to become a Warrior of Darkness.
Until... hours of sitting in front of your console or computer, slumped forward, face inches from the riveting story of Shadowbringers, and your very human, very non-Warrior of Light-body starts to complain. The last thing you want is a back ache ruining your day, right? That’s where Aetherflow Media is here to help! We’ve accumulated a variety of easy stretches and exercises, many of which you can do sitting right at your computer. Pace yourself with the release of the new expansion by getting your body moving, and you’ll be gaming for longer than just release day. (Maybe Tom Holland had it right all along?)
General tips and reminders
Stretches are meant to be gentle. Pushing too hard will only put more strain on your muscles; if you’re feeling a bit of heat in your stretch, you’re golden! Stop if you feel pain! A little (done regularly and consistently) goes a long way! Also be sure to take your time. These stretches and exercises are most effective when done slowly, focusing on keeping the proper form. You may not burn tons of calories, but your muscles will feel the burn!
Please note our accompanying images are not intended to be totally accurate to the stretch. If you’re unsure of the directions, look up some diagrams for more clarity. A quick search with any of the keywords in these stretches will point you in the right direction, and show you plenty of other stretches you can do, too!
Sitting Position Tip! For best results, sit forward slightly in your chair so you are resting on your tailbone (rather than your buttocks) and pull your lower abs in; this will encourage an inwardly curved lower spine that will raise your chest and keep your shoulders back. This is an ideal sitting position that ensures the muscles in your lower back, upper back, and shoulders are aligned and working together to support your neck. Try to keep an awareness of your posture and correct yourself if you find your shoulders slumping forward or your weight shifting backward on your seat!
With that said, let’s get started!
Hand and wrist stretches
Warm up with some gentle hand stretches. Keeping your shoulders down and back, place your palms together. Your elbows should be pointed straight down and also touching. You can interlace the fingertips if it’s more comfortable, but flattening them is more effective. Press the hands together from palm to fingertip until you feel a bit of heat, then slowly spread your elbows outward. Your hands will naturally lower. When you start to feel the stretch in your wrists and arms, stop and hold the position for ten to thirty seconds, then repeat the stretch.
Next, gently shake your hands and wrists. If you do this while sitting, just be aware that you are not flicking your wrists too hard - a gentle, purposeful shaking is all that’s needed. Another option is to stand and let your hands rest gently down at your sides before shaking them. This movement encourages blood flow back into your hands and fingers.
For the next stretch, stay seated. Cross your right leg over your left knee, then rest your right hand on your right knee and your left on the seat. Gently twist from your waist, using your hands to aid the twist. Be careful not to twist too far, and keep your back straight. Hold the pose for about ten seconds, then switch to the other side.
Alternate Version: If crossing your legs is uncomfortable, keep both feet on the floor rather than crossing them when you sit forward. Your hand will still rest on the opposite knee during the stretch rather than the same knee because your legs are not crossed in this position.
Standing Version: Stand up in front of your chair. Place your feet shoulder width apart, then stretch your arms behind your back and interlace your fingertips. See if you can press the palms of your hands together, but don’t strain if the stretch is uncomfortable. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, making sure to keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. This stretch should create a natural lifting of your chest; you can even push the stretch further by lifting your face upward to increase the lift in your chest.
Standing Alternative: If pulling your hands all the way around your back is difficult, stand straight with your arms held out at a slight angle away from your hips. Pinch your shoulder blades together. This stretch will naturally move your arms backward slightly, but the stretch comes from the shoulder blades pulling together, so keep your focus there!
Sitting Alternative: Hold your arms in front of you with your elbows tucked in to your sides, creating about a 90 degree angle. While keeping the bend in your elbow, move your arms backward while pinching your shoulder blades together.
Hold the stretch for five seconds, then gently release, and repeat four to five times.
Lower body stretches
Toe Lift: You can even multitask while doing these exercises! Sitting forward in proper position in your chair, make sure both feet are flat on the ground. If you need to, move them forward so the bend in your knee is a little over 90 degrees. With control, lift the toes of your feet upward, keeping your heel on the ground. Once the front of your foot is lifted as high as it will go, hold briefly, then lower your foot slowly to the ground.
This exercise is a small movement that seems simple, but repeating the motion ten to twenty times for several sets will get the front muscles of your calves really working! These muscles are difficult to pinpoint and not used as often as the calves, so you might be surprised how quickly you start to feel the burn.
Heel Lift: Now that we’ve worked the front of your lower legs, time to work the calves. While maintaining the same sitting position as the first exercise, lift the heels of your feet until only the balls remain on the ground. Hold for several seconds, then slowly lower. You can also do this stretch while standing to work your glutes.
Repeat these exercises ten to twenty times for several sets.
Wide Stance: Now that we’ve warmed up, it’s time to get a little more blood moving! Stand up and give yourself some space. Place your feet more than shoulder width apart for a wide stance. Point your toes outward at an angle. You can keep your hands clasped in front of you, on your hips, or whatever is comfortable. Bend your knees until, ideally, your thighs are parallel with the floor. When you rise up, squeeze your glutes. Focus on lowering your pelvis straight down; try not to let your chest push forward or your pelvis backward. Squeezing your abs inward can help stabilize your pose and balance, as well!
Narrow Stance: For this version, keep your feet shoulder width apart and toes facing straight outward. Bend the knees and move the pelvis downward and back, almost as if you are sitting in a chair. This exercise will work those front calf muscles from the toe lifts, so if you’re struggling, do a few more of those first! You probably will not be able to bend as far without your chest moving forward as you could for the wide stance; that’s okay! Lower as far as you can, then slowly raise.
Repeat the squats ten to twelve times for two to three reps.
If you’ve gone through all these exercises, congratulations! Your body is probably feeling the burn, so take a bit of a rest and get back to gaming! But next time you’re warned that “several cutscenes will play in sequence,” you’ll now have an arsenal of stretches and exercises to keep your body going - no matter what Yoshi-P and his team throw at us (and our Warriors of Light) in Shadowbringers!
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