“Working on flexibility reduces muscle imbalances, which in turns helps to reduce your risk of injury,” says Rachele Gilman, director of stretch inc.
“Increasing muscular flexibility also improves posture, improved posture leads to proper alignment and increased range of motion, and that is critical for how deep you can squat and safely you can lift.
“Ultimately, improving your flexibility helps your muscles to work more effectively, leading to improved performance.”
Complete the following stretching routine as a standalone session, or at the end of your workout.
1. Leg Swings
Reps: 10 each leg
A dynamic movement that works the hips, glutes and quads. Keep a straight back and a tight core throughout.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and keep your toes, knees and hips in alignment.
- Bring the right foot forward and swing it back, increasing the range of motion to increase the stretch.
- Swing the leg out and in, crossing it over your standing leg.
This movement works your core and upper body, stretching your glutes, lower back and hamstrings.
- From standing, fold forward to place your chest on your knees and your hands on the floor.
- Slowly walk your hands out until you’re in a high plank.
- Now walk your hands back until you’re in the forward fold position.
3. Quad Stretch
Reps: 20 secs each leg
This is a static stretch that works the quads and the hip flexor.
- Lift your right leg back and up, moving the heel towards your bum. Use your right hand to pull the foot or ankle closer to the bum.
- Focus on keeping your core tight, tailbone tucked, knees in alignment with each other and your hips straight.
4. Mid-Back Extension
This is a counterbalanced movement that strengthens the spine as it stretches the chest and abs. This is the move for you if you sit down for large parts of the day.
- Start on your stomach, with your forehead on the floor, legs extended, ankles hip-width apart, and the tops of your feet touching the floor.
- Place your hands by your side, with th backs of your hands on the floor.
- Press your feet into the floor, roll your shoulders down the back, engage the glutes, and inhale to lift the chest and legs using only your back and core muscles. Keep your gaze just in front of you to keep a neutral neck.
- Remember to engage the glutes to help prevent squishing the low back.
- Exhale as you lower your body back to the starting position.
5. Prone Figure 4
Reps: 20 secs each side
Targets the psoas, piriformis, hip flexors, hamstrings and quads, and increases hip mobility.
- Start on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Push your head and back into the floor as you cross the right ankle over the left knee, flexing the right foot.
- Work the bent knee out so that both knees are in the same plane.
- Pull the left knee towards your chest.
6. Supine Twist
Reps: 5 deep breaths each side
The supine twist stretches your lower back and glutes to help mitigate lower back pain.
- Lie on your back with your legs extended.
- Extend your arms out to the sides.
- Bend one leg so that the knee is pointed up and lightly hook the toes of the bent leg’s foot under the straight leg’s knee.
- Guide the bent knee across your body – you can use your hand to press the knee towards the floor, if accessible.
- Turn your head towards the arm of the straight leg.
stretch inc. offers online guided stretches and in-person assisted stretches at its London studios at Pop Brixton and Seven Dials. Find out more at stretchinc.uk