Category Archives: posture

4 Moves to Increase Your Flexibility

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

iGnite leader Amy Younkman shares 4 moves to increase your flexibility to get you on the path to increased mobility, reduced chance of injury and just plain feeling great!

1. Passive Hamstring Stretch

Pretty much all of us could use more flexible hamstrings, right? Who doesn’t want to be closer to touching their toes? This passive stretch is a safe and excellent stretch for the hamstring, best done in a doorway or on a corner where 2 walls meet.

Passive Hamstring Stretch

Passive Hamstring Stretch

  1. Lying on your back, lift one leg up the wall, while the other leg stretches out along the ground inside the doorframe.
  2. Settle the pelvis onto the ground and position the upward leg so that you feel a gentle, but not too intense stretch.
  3. Breathe and hold for 3 – 5 minutes.
  4. If you are recuperating from a hamstring tear or strain or need a less intense stretch, move the body further away from the wall so that you do not feel strain in the injured hamstring.

2. Front of Hip/Psoas Stretch

Stretching out the front of the hip/psoas muscle is something not many of us think to do, but it is a crucial area to stretch, especially for runners. Not only does the psoas enable you to walk and run, but it also promotes good posture.

Front of Hip/Psoas Stretch

Front of Hip/Psoas Stretch

  1. Come into a low lunge position on your knees, with the right foot in front and both knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
  2. With hands on the hips, lift the hip points up and root the tailbone down as you draw the navel towards the spine (creating a posterior tilt). You will feel a deep stretch in the front of the left hip.
  3. Lift your left arm on the inhale, exhale and side bend over to the right.
  4. Stay here and breathe for 8 breaths as you feel a deep stretch in the front and outer area of the left hip.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

3. Thoracic Spine/Chest Opening Stretch

After long days of hunching forward, sitting at desks, sitting in the car, and on and on, this stretch feels incredible — allowing you to open up your chest and counteract all of that forward bending.  Goodbye, hunchback!

Spine Stretch / Chest Opener

Spine Stretch / Chest Opener

  1. Lie back on a foam roller (a rolled up yoga mat can work as well) with the roller just below the shoulder blades.
  2. With knees bent and bottom on the ground, reach fingertips behind your head as you lengthen your neck.
  3. On the inhale, curl back over the the roller
  4. On the exhale, knit the ribs together as you curl up and draw elbows together.
  5. With each successive breath, see if you can find more ease and expansiveness as you coordinate movement with breath.
  6. Repeat 8 – 10 times.

4. Bridge Pose

The perfect pose to tie the first three stretches together!

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent, heels in line with your sit bones, and toes pointed straight ahead.
  2. Root down through all four corners of both feet as you press your arms into the mat and lift your hips.
  3. Lengthen the back of the neck and feel a nice stretch along the sides of the neck.
  4. Firm your glutes, and stretch your knees out over your ankles, as you stretch the front of the hips while strengthening the hamstrings and glutes.
  5. Stay here and breathe for 8 breaths
  6. Slowly lower the hips as you gently lay the spine down, bone by bone.
  7. Repeat 3 – 5 times.

 

Photos by Catherine Sanderson

You Might Also Like:

3 of My Favorite Strengthening Exercises

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

“Having been a runner most of my life, it is only in the last 7 or so years that I have actively and regularly strength trained with weights and bodyweight …Running for 40 years became very boring and also was not great for my joints — mainly my knees — because I was not strengthening the muscles around my joints and knees.

…My epiphany was realizing that once you build long lean muscle doing resistance training, your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) greatly increases, so now even while I am resting, I am burning more calories than I ever was in my 30’s, 40’s and even my 20’s because I now do regular strength training!”
 Read more about Kathleen’s journey from runner to strength training enthusiast

Here, 3 of Kathleen’s favorite strength training exercises to Power Up your body and your exercise routine:

Complete 15 reps of each exercise, with a 30 second rest between each exercise.  Find the right amount of weight to use by selecting a weight that is difficult to lift after 10-12 reps.

bulgarianlunge_igniteyourlifeStep by Step:

  1. Using free weights in each hand, elevate one foot on a step behind you.
  2. As you do a lunge, focus on moving your torso up and down, not pushing it forward. Keep your weight balanced evenly through your front foot and press into the floor with your front heel to come back up to the start position, which works and tones more lower-body muscle.
  3. Do not lean forward or let your front knee extend past your front toe.
  4. Complete 15 per leg.

Benefits:

  • Dramatically improves core strength and balance, as well as agility because it isolates one leg
  • Produces noticeable muscle and strength gains in the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings
  • Reduces risk of injury by minimizing strength and muscular differences between your left and right side

weightedrenegaderow_igniteyourlife

Step by Step:

  1. With your hands on the weights at shoulder’s width apart, extend your legs outward into a full push-up position. This is your starting point, ending point and point of stability.
  2. Tighten your core, firmly straighten your left arm, and slowly row the right weight upward until your upper arm is slightly higher than your torso.
  3. Hold one second at the top and then slowly lower the weight back down.
  4. Keep your chest and hips parallel to the floor throughout and try not to rock or sway to one side.
  5. Repeat the same motion with your left arm. Again, keep your core engaged and tight throughout this exercise. This is a great core exercise!
  6. Complete 15 per side.

Benefits:

  • It’s a compound exercise that strengthens your muscles throughout your back, including the trapezius, lats, rhomboids, simultaneously working the biceps, forearms, and rear deltoids.
  • Works the muscles that draw back your shoulder blades, improving posture
  • Forces the abdominals to contract and work hard to stabilize your body — especially the obliques — strengthening the entire body from head to toe in the process!

deadlift_howtoStep by Step:

  1. Using heavy free weights or a barbell, stand up straight with shoulders down and back.
  2. Bend (hinge) from the hips, keeping a flat back: when bending down, act as if you are holding a tray of drinks and need to close the door behind you with your backside. This helps you push your hips back instead of rounding your lower back — a form blunder that puts you at risk for back problems.  Keep the weights as close to your legs as possible, as if you are shaving your legs with the weights or barbell.
  3. Go down as far as your flexibility will allow you, then squeeze your glutes as tight as possible to lift the weights back up to standing, keeping shoulders back and down away from your ears. Squeezing the glutes will engage your butt rather than straining your lower back.
  4. Remember to always keep those abdominals tight, as you should with any strength exercise that you do!
  5. Complete 15 reps

Benefits:

  • One of the top glute strengtheners
  • Increases your core strength and adds to core stability
  • Targets all of the muscles responsible for your posture and enables you to keep your back straighter during regular daily activities
  • Works your lower and upper body, including your back muscles
  • Develops the muscles you need to carry things, such as heavy grocery bags and suitcases
  • Builds amazing grip strength — your forearms also work hard!
  • Can help prevent injuries by increasing the strength of your muscles and critical tendons and ligaments. Supporting joints with strong muscles is crucial to preventing injury, especially in the hamstrings and lower back.

Power Up | iGnite Your Life

You Might Also Like: