Hurdler stretch opens up hips, increases flexibility

Most days your physical goals are “to work out,” “get fitter,” and “set new goals.” And then there are those days that your body says “just chill!”

Whichever day you are on, stretching is essential for both. It does not matter if it’s a heavy lifting day or simply an intense cardio session — stretching after both activities is a must.

A good stretch helps with your flexibility. It increases your blood flow to muscles and helps relieve muscle aches after intense use.

Our move today is a hurdler stretch and all you need is yourself and a flat surface. This stretch targets the hip area but I also find it beneficial for the lower back as well.

To begin this move, have a seat on the floor. Sitting up tall, and holding your chest up, square your hips forward in your sitting position. Stretch your left leg in front of you and bend the knee outward. Mimic this same position (but in the opposite direction) with your right leg, toward your backside (which opens the hip). Imagine looking over the top of your head downward, and seeing the letter S; that would be the positioning of your legs on the floor.

Like I said before, this stretch is to open up your hips, and relieve pressure after any lower body workout. You can also deepen this stretch by simply leaning forward. Keep your chest up, and slowly walking your body downward with your hands. You are basically leaning over your front leg. By intensifying this move, I find this helps alleviate pressure in the lower back as well.

You can hold this move as long as you want, remembering your breathing techniques — in through your nose, out through your mouth.

Once you feel the muscles release, switch your leading leg, and repeat on your other side. If your hips are extremely tight, this move might be difficult in the beginning. Continue to work at it and, over time, you will be able to execute this move more efficiently and get more out of it.

This stretch is great after any lower body workout or cardio session, or simply done alone on those “off days.”

Written by Marlo Alleva, an instructor at Gold’s Gym and a group fitness coordinator at Fontaine-Gills YMCA in Lakeland, Florida. She can be reached at faluvzpa@msn.com.

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