Chronic tension in the muscles at the front and sides of the hips can contribute to low back pain and poor posture. This stretch is particularly helpful for hip flexor contracture and ITB syndrome when combined with glute strengthening exercises. Changing toe positions of the back foot helps target different muscle fibers for a more complete stretch!
Stand in front of a chair, take a small step back with the leg you want to stretch, then place the opposite foot onto the chair so that you are standing in a lunge position with the forward leg elevated. The toes of both feet should be facing forward. Press your hips forward and tuck your tailbone under, increasing the stretch felt in the front of the hip of the back leg. Hold for thirty seconds, then return to standing.
Repeat the stretch again, this time with the toes of the back foot pointed out away from your midline. The stretch should be felt along the bikini line and into the inner thigh. After 30 seconds, return to standing again and reposition the toes of the back foot pointing in toward your midline . Being careful not to lock the knee, once again place the opposite foot on the chair in front of you and press your hips forward, tucking the tailbone. This time the stretch will be felt along the front and outside of the hip. Release after 30 seconds and repeat all three stages on the opposite hip.
If you spend long hours at a computer, this stretch is for you! The muscles in the forearm cross the wrist via the carpal tunnel; when tight, they can cause pain in the wrist and hand. Stretch them by holding your arm out in front of you, palm facing up. Keeping your elbow straight, bend your wrist back so that your fingers point toward the floor. Use your other hand to increase the stretch by pulling back on your palm. Hold the stretch for at 30 seconds or until a release is felt, then repeat on the other side.
This stretch targets the muscle that shrugs your shoulders, the Levator Scapulae. It attaches to the top of your shoulder-blade, and to the sides of the uppermost bones of the neck. To stretch, first side-bend your head away from the side you want to stretch, and hold for a couple of breaths. Secure the arm on the stretching side behind your back to keep your shoulder down. Next, gently rotate and nod your head so that your nose is pointing into your armpit. Increase the stretch if desired by gently pulling your head farther into the stretch with your opposite hand. Hold for 30 seconds or until a release is felt.
The pectorals are the largest chest muscles, and they tend to be tight on almost everyone, especially if you spend long hours at a computer. This stretch can give you relief from upper back & neck pain, which are often sore due to the opposing pull of the pecs. Simply position yourself in an open doorway, with your elbows bent to 90′ and at shoulder height, so that your forearms are resting along the frame with hands pointed toward the ceiling. You can choose to stretch both sides at once, or relax one arm at a time . Step ahead and lean through the door, keeping your arms in place, until you feel a comfortable stretch across the chest. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds or until a release is felt.
To enhance the stretch by targeting the slightly different fibre directions of the large pectoral muscles, repeat the stretch with your hands 1) lower, just above shoulder height on the door frame and 2) above your head on the door frame, high enough that your elbows are only slightly bent.
This stretch targets the muscles of the inner thigh, which can get tight if you’re in the habit of crossing your legs, or when there’s weakness of the muscles of the buttock. To stretch them, simply sit with your legs straight in front of you, then open your legs into a V until you feel a stretch along the inner thigh. Bend forward at the waist to bring your torso forward toward the ground between your legs. You may feel a pull along the back of the thigh as well as you bend forward. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
An absolute must for runners and lovers of high-heels. Stand with feet at hip width. While the leg you want to stretch stays in place, take a large step forward with the opposite leg, bending the knee so that it is directly above the ankle. Lower the back leg so the knee comes toward the ground, increasing the stretch across the front of the hip and thigh. Keep your torso straight and your tailbone tucked, so that your hands or arms are resting on your forward leg.
Target the front of the thigh to relieve knee and low back pain. Stand with feet just at hip width. Bend the knee of the side you want to stretch so that your heel comes up toward your buttock. Use a towel roll tucked behind the knee to open up the joint. Grasp the foot or ankle with the same-side hand, or use a belt or towel if you can’t reach. If needed, rest your opposite hand on a table or chair to help maintain your balance throughout the stretch.
This stretch is essential if you spend all day on your feet, or suffer from hip pain or sciatica. Start in hook-lying position: on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. On the side you want to stretch, turn your knee out, and cross your ankle across the opposite knee. Reach the arm on the stretch side through the triangle space between your legs and hold behind the knee of the opposite leg with both hands. To increase the stretch, lift the opposite side foot off the ground and bring that knee toward your chest.
A straight-leg forward bend does double duty as a stretch for both your hamstrings and your low back. Start with your feet together or hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Bend forward at the waist until you feel a comfortable stretch along the back of your thighs. Allow your belly to rest on your thighs to support your low back, and relax your neck. If possible, straighten, but don’t lock, your knees. Allow your arms to dangle toward the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute. To release the stretch, bend your knees and slowly roll up out of the forward bend.