Stretching is the easiest exercise out there and it prevents injury. Stretching even just once per day can provide benefit and even promote relaxation to our stressed out days. Lower body stretches especially may counteract sitting all day. Here I provide some easy lower body stretches that anyone can try, good for after a workout or anytime of day.
The following are lower body stretches and back stretches. When the lower body is stiff and tight, it will cause strain to the lower back. It is very helpful to lengthen the lower body to allow a better articulation in the lower back. Specifically, the hip flexor (the front of the hip) tightness will put strain on the low back, causing pain. Common sitting postures keep the hip flexor in a shortened position. The whole body is connected more than you’d ever think possible. You can find upper body stretching in my Preventing Posture Pitfalls post.
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Lower Body Stretches
- Do each stretch at least 6 seconds (if anything, that isn’t too much to ask!)
- Try 30 seconds for the best results
- Do BOTH sides for equality
- Keep the core engaged for each one so the back doesn’t “collapse” into a rounded mess
- Bring both legs straight out. Bring left leg up and across the right thigh. Take the right arm and hold onto the left knee and look over the opposite shoulder.
- Great for whole back body
- Add on: Hook the right elbow around the left knee.
- Start on the knees. Open knees wide if that is comfortable. Bring arms out as far as comfortable and rest the forehead.
- Great for the lower back and relaxation.
- Add on: Reach arms to right and left sides for a great side body stretch
Figure Four Stretch
- Start on the back. Cross right leg on top of the left knee. Bring right arm through between thighs and left arm on the outside right thigh, and pull the left knee in.
- Stretches the piriformis muscle (sciatica anyone?) and glutes
Hip Flexor Stretch
- Start in a lunge position. The right knee is forward and left knee is resting on the ground. Try to keep your core engaged a bit to feel a stretch in the front left hip.
- Great for hip flexors
- Add on: Reach arms overhead
- Lay on the back, keeping the small of the back touching the ground (or bed). Use a towel or belt to loop around the right foot and extend the right leg up. If it doesn’t go straight, don’t worry! There is still a great stretch going on.
- Great for hamstrings
- Add on: Let the leg fall to the left for a nice IT band stretch (outside of leg) or to the right for adductor stretch (inside of leg).
Fresh Moves: Add a few lower body stretches to your day to prevent injury.
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