Total Stretch Time: 5 minutes
Perform stretches after cardio and strength training workouts.
Scissor Hamstring Stretch
Easy to do anywhere and safe for injured backs, this hamstring stretch is great if you’re really tight.
- Stand with your feet together. Step your right foot back about two feet and bend forward from your hip joint, keeping your back and both legs straight. After holding for 30 seconds, switch sides.
Easy Pose with Forward Fold
Benefits: Stretches back, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
- Sit on the edge of your mat, crossing your legs in front of you at the shins. Option to stack your legs. Balance your weight evenly across your sit bones. Align your head, neck, and spine. Lengthen your spine, but soften your neck. Relax your feet and thighs. Reach your arms up overhead, lengthening your spine.
- On an exhalation, slowly bow forward with your arms still extended. Rest your arms, hands, and forehead on the mat. If your forehead does not touch the mat, bend your elbows, stack your hands, and rest your forehead on your hands.
- To release, use your hands to walk yourself back to an upright, seated position. Change the cross of your legs and repeat the pose.
Forward Bend with Rounded Back
This stretch targets both hamstrings as well as the lower back.
- Sit on the floor, extending both legs straight out in front of you, legs together. Fold your torso over your thighs, gently rounding the back but keeping the legs straight. Hold here for 30 seconds and then sit up.
- Option: Try sitting up tall with both arms overhead. Flex your feet. Start to lower torso, keeping back flat. Reach for the toes and hold. You should feel a deeper stretch within the hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds then sit up.
Reclined Hamstring Stretch
Here’s a relaxing way to stretch one hamstring at a time.
- Lie on your back. Raise your left leg as high as you can, keeping your pelvis flat on the ground. Hold your lower thigh and encourage the leg to move toward your head. Flex your foot to stretch your calf too.
- To deepen the stretch, place a yoga strap or towel on the ball of your foot and use your hands to pull the strap toward you. After 30 seconds, switch legs.
- This stretch can be performed with opposite leg bent or straight.
This pose is perfect for tight hips because it stretches the hip rotators (the buttocks area) and the hip flexors (the long muscles that run along the front of your thighs and pelvis).
- Bring your right knee between your hands, placing your right ankle near your left wrist. Extend your left leg behind you so your kneecap and the top of your foot rest on the floor.
- Press through your fingertips as you lift your torso away from your thigh. Release your tailbone back toward your heels. Work on squaring your hips and the front side of your torso to the front of your mat.
- Draw down through your front-leg shin and balance your weight evenly between your right and left hips. Flex your front foot. Press down through the tops of all five toes of the back foot.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then stretch the other leg.
Static Quadriceps Stretch
This can be performed in either standing, or laying on your front.
- Stand on one leg with your knees touching. If you need to, grab hold of a chair or wall for support.
- Grab your left foot with your left hand and pull toward your butt. Do your best to keep your chest upright, and don’t worry about how close your foot is to your butt. Keep your focus on getting a good stretch in your quad.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then stretch the other leg.
Wide Second Plie
- Start in a standing position, heels together, toes apart. Step your right foot out into a wide stance with toes pointing outward. Bend your knees deeply, keeping chest lifted and knees pushing back.
- Remember to rotate from the hips and not the knee. Lower your tailbone towards the floor while lengthening the spine upward. Straighten the legs and step the right foot back in to the meet the left.
Benefits: Hip opener, stretches hamstrings and hips, strengthens core, improves balance.
- Start with an athletic stance of about two times your regular shoulder width with toes pointed forward. Hands clasped in front of body for balance.
- Begin the movement by dropping your hips into a squat, making sure to keep toes pointed forward. Then slowly redistribute your weight onto left leg, straightening the right leg. Flex your right foot and point the toes to the ceiling. Remember to keep the left knee facing directly toward the toes. Make sure to keep the chest up, maintaining a neutral spine alignment.
- Then slowly shift your weight to the center, and onto the other leg. One repetition is when both the right and left leg have performed the movement.
Improve mobility and posture through your lower back with this spinal stretch
- Start seated with legs stretched out in front of you. Bend right leg and cross it over left leg, placing right foot on floor near left knee. Twist from the hips and place left elbow on the outside of right knee. Push into the knee to deepen the twist (you’ll feel it along the outer side of right thigh). Repeat on the other side.
Seated Heel Stretch
- Begin seated with legs stacked on top of the other. Lengthen through your spine as you balance on your sitz bones. Grab onto your right heel and pull your leg up to your chest. Keeping your knee still extend your leg to the side (turned out). Be mindful to keep you right hip pressing towards the floor. Bend the knee and stack right on top of left. Repeat on other side.
Daily stretching through splits will help to deeply stretch the thighs and open up both the hamstrings and quadriceps.
Half Split Stretch
- Begin in a low lunge with right leg forward, knee stacked over ankle. The left knee releases to the ground in a kneeling position, bring hands lower to frame right foot. The hands move back until they are even with the hips. The hips move back as the front right straightens with the toes pointing to the sky. The upper body then folds forward over the thigh. Be mindful to keep hips and shoulders square. Hold for 20 to 30 secs.
- Shift back into low low lunge. Bring right knee under right hip. Step left foot forward into low lunge to repeat on opposite side.
- Begin in a half split. Slide your front foot forward, lean back, and slowly lower yourself to the ground, using your hands for balance as you get lower. Keep your hips squared and your toes straight.
Side Straddle Spilt Stretch
- Sit in a straddle position, extending your legs as far as you are comfortable. Reach toward your right leg with your left arm, stretching your right arm toward your opposite leg. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat to the left side.
Center Straddle Split Stretch
- Sit in a wide straddle position, legs extended as far as is comfortable. Without bending the knees, reach to the center. Stretch as far as you can while maintaining a flat back. Try to lay your body on the floor, using your hands as support. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 secs.
Big thank you to my models and my friends…
Emily Devine @goldemstateofmind
Jean Schroeder @jeanschroeder
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