Here’s a yummy standing stretch series for the holiday break at Effortless Movement. Use it to keep your hip flexors from becoming dried up rubber bands that pull at your low back. Super-helpful during the holiday season when you might be sitting more than usual.
Long periods of Sitting = Tight Hip Flexors = Cranky Low Back
The easiest place to do this series is in a stairway, but feel free to substitute and ottoman, a picnic table or a short dog.
How to: step one foot up on a stair and place your hands on a higher stair. Keep your back foot flat (heel down) and push through that back foot. Create one long line of energy from your foot to the top of your head. *Take a peek at that back foot. Are the toes pointed straight? You DON’T want them swiveled to the side like a yoga pose.
Feel this: in the calf and Achilles tendon of your back leg. Maybe some stretch in your “hip flexor zone” — where a front pocket would be on a pair of jeans.
How to: Push down into both feet as you lift your arms up. Create a 2-way reach — energy through the bottom foot and through your hands.
Feel this: in the hip flexor zone of your back leg. Maybe in your armpits. The fascia — aka connective tissue — in your hand, arm and armpit is connected to the fascia in your hip flexors and down your leg. Reaching enhances the stretch. If that makes you feel unbalanced, by all means lower your arms.
How to: lower your arms and twist toward your front leg. Push both feet down, don’t move them! This will create more stretch in your hip flexor zone. Notice how my ribcage and upper body are twisting, but my hips are still oriented toward my toes. Keep your feet and hips planted.
Feel this: Many of my students tell me they feel the stretch spreading across the front pocket area — more so than in other hip flexor stretches. That’s because you’re stretching both the hip flexor muscles and the fascia that covers the front pocket zone.
4 SIDE REACH
How to: square off your torso so that your nose faces your toes. If your right leg is in the back, reach your right arm up and arch toward the front leg. Allow your head to turn a bit, so that you’re gazing at the floor. Push both feet down as you reach your arm in the opposite direction.
Feel this: you’ll likely feel more interesting stretch in this pose. Maybe in the front pocket zone, maybe in the inner thigh.
BTW: yes, that’s one of my students snapping photos of this series. Thanks, Mary!