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.
- Lying on your back, lift one leg up the wall, while the other leg stretches out along the ground inside the doorframe.
- Settle the pelvis onto the ground and position the upward leg so that you feel a gentle, but not too intense stretch.
- Breathe and hold for 3 – 5 minutes.
- 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.
- Come into a low lunge position on your knees, with the right foot in front and both knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
- 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.
- Lift your left arm on the inhale, exhale and side bend over to the right.
- Stay here and breathe for 8 breaths as you feel a deep stretch in the front and outer area of the left hip.
- 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!
- Lie back on a foam roller (a rolled up yoga mat can work as well) with the roller just below the shoulder blades.
- With knees bent and bottom on the ground, reach fingertips behind your head as you lengthen your neck.
- On the inhale, curl back over the the roller
- On the exhale, knit the ribs together as you curl up and draw elbows together.
- With each successive breath, see if you can find more ease and expansiveness as you coordinate movement with breath.
- Repeat 8 – 10 times.
4. Bridge Pose
The perfect pose to tie the first three stretches together!
- Lie on your back with knees bent, heels in line with your sit bones, and toes pointed straight ahead.
- Root down through all four corners of both feet as you press your arms into the mat and lift your hips.
- Lengthen the back of the neck and feel a nice stretch along the sides of the neck.
- 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.
- Stay here and breathe for 8 breaths
- Slowly lower the hips as you gently lay the spine down, bone by bone.
- Repeat 3 – 5 times.
Photos by Catherine Sanderson