Give each of these Power Stretches a solid 5-10 breaths per side—longer if you’re able. Aim to stretch at least every other day. However, daily stretching is a great idea. Many people have seen noticeable changes in their posture, movement patterns, and energy after just one session!
1. Lying Hamstring Stretch
Why: Supple hamstrings are a primary source of healthy posture and mobility. They connect the sits bones of the pelvis with the bones of the thigh and calf. Tight, short hamstrings create a tilt in the pelvis that leads to poor posture, back pain, and difficulty sitting & walking with proper spinal support. Regularly stretching the hamstrings will improve your posture whether seated, standing or walking.
How: Lie on your back with neutral curve in the back & pelvis. Wrap a strap, tie, or towel around the ball of your foot. Extend the leg straight up into the air, keeping the back of the knee open and flexing your foot. Your toes should point down to your face as you reach your heel to the ceiling. Breathe length into the back of the leg and exhale out any tension you may feel. Repeat for the other side.
2. Lying Hip/ Piriformis Stretch
Why: The piriformis is primarily an external rotator, one of a number of small, deep muscles that rotate the leg outward at the hip and provide much needed sacral stability during movement patterns. A tight Piriformis can be part of sciatic pain that is, at it’s worst, totally debilitating. Adequate stretching of this muscle can help keep you pain free and moving with both stability and lightness.
How: Lying on your back, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Press right knee away while holding left knee in. Keep the right foot flexed and energy pressing through the heel to protect your knee and open up the right hip. Breathe deep down into the hip releasing any tension as you exhale. Repeat for other side.
3. Low Lunge/Psoas Stretch:
Why: the psoas is far more than a core stabilizing muscle; it is an organ of perception composed of bio-intelligent tissue that embodies our deepest urge for survival and desire to flourish. Opening the front of the hips stirs up energy in many ways—metabolism is kindled as digestive organs are given space and freshly oxygenated blood for healthy function; in addition, the emotional centers within the gut and nervous system are woken up leaving you feeling alert and energized.
How: Standing up on knees, set right foot forward so that ankle is aligned under knee. Tilt pelvis, tucking tailbone down to create a stretch across the front of the hip. You can use blocks under hands if you can’t quite touch the floor and place padding under your back knee for comfort. Remain lifted through the chest, opening the rib cage. Take deep breaths into the belly to release tension.
Written By: Missi Holt, Master Fitness & Nutritional Therapist