Some people dream of finishing a marathon or executing a pull-up—but I’ve always been fascinated with mastering a full split. As a long-time yogi, former figure skater, and Bring It On superfan, I’ve attempted to stretch my way to a split in the past, but never quite mastered it. Eventually, I figured my lower body just wasn’t naturally flexible enough to execute this cheer-squad staple and gave up. But according to one expert, pretty much anyone can do a split with a little time, patience, and the right conditioning.

Not only is a split more accessible than you might think, but it’s a super healthy milestone to aim for, says Kristina Nekyia, founder of Los Angeles flexibility training studio Fit & Bendy. “There are so many benefits to flexibility, because flexibility is all about increasing our ability to move in the world,” says Nekyia, who has a background as a dancer, Pilates instructor, and contortionist. “It requires a very deep knowledge and understanding of your body—you learn something abut yourself through the process.” She adds that flexibility can help make you stronger in pretty much any other fitness endeavor, from running and cycling to surfing and dancing. (And let’s not forget that splits just look fun.)

If you’re new to flexibility training, Nekyia recommends starting with a front split, where one leg is coming out in front of you and the other is extending behind you. “It doesn’t matter how close you get to the floor—if you’ve got that form, you’re doing a split,” she says. “Your back leg will be bent for a pretty long time until you can get all the way down.” The other option is a middle split, wherein both legs are stretched out to the sides. However, Nekyia says this variation is difficult for most people—on both a physical and emotional level—due to our complex pelvic anatomy.

So, how to actually train for a front split? It’s all about increasing the flexibility in your hamstrings and your hips while strengthening the opposing muscles, says Nekyia, who created a stretch sequence to get you started. Before going into the stretches, she recommends warming up your body with jumping jacks, burpees, or a 10-minute dance party. “Your muscles are going to have the best results if you’re a few degrees above your normal body temperature,” she says, noting that you can also do the stretches directly after a workout. “It’s best to be consistent. Do short sessions three days a week and you’ll start to see a change. Going at it super hard isn’t going to make you progress any faster. It’s about consistent training over time.” Spirit fingers to that.

Step 1: Stretch the hamstrings

Photos: Erin Magner for Well+Good

1. The first move is called a nerve glide, as it helps create movement around the sciatic nerve—a major nerve that runs down the back of the leg into the foot. “This nerve can be one of our limiting factors in our flexibility,” says Nekyia. Start with your right leg bent and pulled into your chest with pointed toes. Then, straighten the leg as much as you can while squeezing the muscles around your knee, keeping your thigh on your belly. “Your leg might shake a little bit and that’s perfect. I call it the ‘chihuahua point’,” Nekyia says. Then, flex the foot, take a breath, bend the knee, and relax. Repeat for 20 to 30 seconds.

2. Keeping the right leg pulled into your chest, squeeze your knee muscles as hard as you can, let go of your leg, and try to straighten it all the way. Why so much focus on the knee muscles? “The more the muscles in your knees can work, the more it helps to open the tightness in the back of the leg,” says Nekyia. Bend the leg in and relax it, and then straighten it out again while engaging the knee muscles. Repeat for 20 to 30 seconds.

3. Grab a yoga strap or towel and loop it around the arch of your right foot. Try to straighten your right leg out all the way. “Don’t yank on the strap—just apply enough pressure so you feel a light stretch,” says Nekyia. As you hold the leg out straight, feel where it’s tightest in the back of the leg and squeeze those muscles. Then, engage the knee muscles again and see if the leg comes closer to your body.

4. Keeping the right leg lifted, use the strap to move it slightly across the body so your right foot is above your left eye. Flex and point your right foot, then bend and straighten your leg. Take the strap off and shake out your leg.

5. Repeat the full hamstring sequence on the left leg.

Step 2: Stretch the hips

1. “Just like we were working with the knee muscles to open the hamstring, we want to work with the butt muscles to open up the hip,” says Nekyia. “You always want to look at the muscle opposite the one you want to stretch—you really want to strengthen it and get it to work.” For the first part of this hip opening sequence, come into a lunge with the right leg behind you, resting the knee on the ground. Squeeze your lower glute muscles and upper hamstrings—the ones around the crease of your backside—and use that engagement to push your right hip forward. Tuck your pelvis under and use your abs to lift your torso up out of your hips. Make sure to keep the pelvis squared off towards the front of the room. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

2. From here, imagine that you’re trying to slide yourself forward using your front heel—you’ll feel both legs turn on. Turn the lower part of the right leg in and lift your right hand up and overhead. Push the right hip forward and slightly out to the side while engaging the lower right glute and upper right hamstring.

3. Curl the toes of the back foot under and lift your back knee off the floor, keeping both knees bent. Tuck the pelvis under slightly and start to slowly straighten and bend your back leg, using your abdominal muscles to lift your torso out of your pelvis. “You’re building the balance muscles which is good—you don’t want to develop flexibility in a vacuum,” says Nekyia. “You want to have balance and strength and stability because otherwise you can’t support the range of motion that’s available to you.” After about 20 seconds, interlace your hands in front of your chest and extend them out in front of you. Then take a few breaths with the arms extended overhead, and come down onto your back knee.

4. Repeat the full hip sequence on the other side.

Step 3: Prep for a split

1. Using yoga blocks or books for balance, come back into a lunge with your right knee down on the floor. Engage the lower glutes and upper hamstrings of your right leg to guide your hips forward. At the same time, squeeze your left knee muscles to straighten your left leg and slide the left foot forward as much as you can while keeping your hips even with each other. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then slide the left foot back until it’s bent in a lunge. Come out of the stretch.

2. Repeat on the other side. Remember, it’s fine if you don’t get all the way down to the floor like Nekyia, above—your flexibility will increase over time.

Why stop stretching there? Check out these guides for loosening up your calf and quad muscles.

15 Stretches You Should Do Every Day

You know that moment when you just need to stretch—maybe it’s before getting out of bed in the morning, during a long flight or right after a long run. Think about how your go-to muscle-loosening move makes you feel. Does it make you say “ooh” and “ahh”? Well, that’s exactly what stretching can do for you: Wake up your muscles, relieve tension throughout the body and make you feel oh-so-good.

RELATED: 5 Standing Desk Stretches to Relieve Stress Now

But the benefits of stretching go even further. “There are many factors that can limit or enhance movement, including prior tissue damage, strength, stability around the joint and, of course, flexibility,” says Lisa Wheeler, vice president of fitness programming for Daily Burn. “That’s where stretching comes in. If the muscles around the joint aren’t flexible, it’s difficult to move efficiently.” In other words, that stiffness can prevent you from doing full range of motion exercises, cause injury and worse, keep you from progressing with your fitness goals.

To help you loosen up the joints used in most daily movements—especially those that get tight from sitting all day—we rounded up 15 lengthening and strengthening stretches to do daily. Wheeler says it’s best to do a dynamic warm-up before a workout and static holds after exercise. Thankfully, you can use most of these stretches for both by either staying in the position shown for 30 seconds (static) or moving in and out of the pose (dynamic). Focus on deep breathing and you’ll probably experience some mental stress relief, too.

RELATED: The 5 Keys to a Perfect Warm-Up

15 Stretches to Relieve Tension Now

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1. Downward Dog
A yogi favorite, this pose focuses on hip and shoulder mobility, while stretching your hamstrings, lats (muscles in your mid-back) and deltoids (muscles in your shoulders).
How to: Start in plank position with shoulders directly over wrists (a). Push your hips up toward the ceiling so you form a triangle with your body. Keep your head between your arms and straighten your legs as much as possible (b). Reach your heels toward the ground and spread your fingers, so your bodyweight gets distributed evenly through the hands and feet.
Make it dynamic: Continuously move between plank position and downward dog.

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2. Side Oblique Stretch
You’ll lengthen through the side of your body as you stretch your lats, hips and obliques.
How to: Stand with feet a little wider than hip-distance apart (a). As you lift one arm overhead with your palm facing inward, reach and lean toward the opposite side of the arm raised (b). Hold for eight seconds, then switch sides.
Make it dynamic: After you reach with one arm, bend that elbow as you pull it down by your side and stand straight. Reach back up and over. Do eight reps, then switch sides.

RELATED: 5 Hip Stretches to Relieve Tightness Now

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3. Crescent Pose
Find length and balance as you engage your abs, hip flexors and chest with this high lunge.
How to: Stand with your feet staggered: one in front and one behind you (a). Bend your front knee to create a 90-degree angle. Keep your back leg straight behind you (b). Lift your arms up in the air by your ears, palms facing inward. Lift your chest up, slightly arching your back as you press your back hip forward (c). If possible, lower your lunge as you exhale. Hold for eight seconds, then switch sides.
Make it dynamic: Bend and straighten your front leg as you lift and lower your arms. Repeat for eight reps, then switch sides.

RELATED: 8 Things Experts Wish You Knew About Yoga

Image zoom Ryan Kelly/Daily Burn 365

  • 4. Child’s Pose
  • Take it from Daily Burn’s Becca Pace: This stretch is probably one of the most calming postures, and works well for recovery, too. You’ll stretch the low back, lats and shoulders.
  • How to: Get on all fours on an exercise mat (a). From your hands and knees, push your hips back until your butt rests on your heels. (Knees slightly wider than hips.) Keep your arms straight out in front of you and look at the floor.
  • Make it dynamic: Continuously flow through hands-and-knees position to child’s pose.

RELATED: The 6 Most Satisfying Stretches You’re Not Doing

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5. Single Leg Stretch
If you’re like most adults, you need a little more flexibility in your hamstrings. Bonus benefit: You’ll also work your core.
How to: Lie on your back and lift legs toward the ceiling (a). Lower one leg toward the floor as you pull the other leg toward your face (b). Hold the back of your raised leg (calf or higher) and lift your shoulders off the mat (c). Keep legs as straight as possible and toes pointed. Hold, then switch sides.
Make it dynamic: Switch legs repeatedly, gently grabbing your calf and pulling it toward you.

RELATED: Is It Better to Do Cardio or Strength Training First?

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6. Figure 4
This is an ah-mazing stretch for runners, as it alleviates tightness in the glutes and the hard-to-reach piriformis (another muscle in your backside).
How to: Sit on a mat with your legs extended in front of you (a). Place your hands behind you, fingertips facing away from your body. Lift one leg, placing your ankle on your opposite leg, just above the knee. (Keep your feet flexed to protect your knees.) (b). Slowly bend your bottom leg toward you, until you feel a stretch in the outer hip of the other leg (c). Straighten your back, roll your shoulders down and push out your chest. Hold, then switch sides.
Make it dynamic: Continue to bend and straighten your bottom leg.

RELATED: 5 Stretches You Could Be Doing More Effectively

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7. Cat
Have a stiff back? This pose will encourage blood flow and more mobility in your spine.
How to: Get on your hands and knees on an exercise mat, with wrists in line with shoulders and knees in line with hips (a). Round your back, tuck your pelvis and look toward the floor, as you scoop your abs upward (b).
Make it dynamic: Inhale and exhale as you flow through cat and cow (below).

Read the rest of the article here.

This article originally appeared on DailyBurn.com.

Sore, stiff and aching muscles? Stretching is essential for flexibility and muscle care. But chances are, a quick stretch isn’t included in your daily routine. Whether you run out of time after your workout, don’t feel you have sufficient twinges to warrant testing your flexibility, or simply don’t have the know-how, squeezing in some TLC is more important than you realise.

Personal trainer Laura Williams recommends the following 7 stretches to squeeze into your daily routine. Start today and reap the rewards for a lifetime:

The benefits of daily stretching

Stretching before exercise is useful for preparing the body for exercise and helping to reduce injury. Dynamic stretching (those stretches that involve movement) are considered better than static stretches (those that you hold) pre-exercise – as using range-of-motion is better for warming the body up for exercise. Stretching comes with the following benefits:

❤️ Boost your mobility

Stretching can improve your range of movement and mobility if practised regularly.

💛 Improve your posture

Stretching can help to improve posture. Muscle groups such as hamstrings and those found around the chest can get progressively tighter by being forced into the same position for hours on end, as is often the case after a day at the desk. Stretching these muscles out regularly can help to counteract some of the effects of those hours spent sitting.

💚 Minimise injury risk

Stretching can help to reduce the risk of injury and alleviate certain injuries (such as lower back pain), particularly if lack of flexibility is an issue in the surrounding muscles.

💙 Relax

Stretching can be very relaxing! Unlike your cardio or strength routine, there is no real burn involved with stretching so it’s a perfect time to sit (or lie) back and focus on breathing deeply, allowing tension to disperse and collect your thoughts for the day.

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Try these 7 daily stretches

Spend 5-10 minutes warming up before stretching to increase blood flow to the muscle before you stretch – this could be something as simple as a short walk or taking a few flights of stairs.

1. The neck stretch

This neck stretch can be performed seated or standing and is a great way to ease built up neck tension from a day at your computer.

✔️ Try this: From a seated position, place your left hand on the right side of your head, with your right arm behind your back. Gently pull your head to the left side until you feel a gentle stretch in your neck. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side

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2. The standing quad stretch

This can help to ease tension that builds up in hip and thigh muscles over the course of the day. Keeping these muscles flexible may help to keep both knee and back pain at bay.

✔️ Try this: From a standing position, using a wall or door for support if needed, bend your right leg, grab the top of your right foot towards your right buttock, knee pointing down at the floor. You should feel a stretch right down the front of your right thigh. Tilt hips forward to feel the stretch at the top of your thigh. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Switch to left leg.

3. The chest stretch

This chest stretch is one of the easiest ways to stretch out your chest muscles which can get tight and overworked if you spend a lot of time seated or on devices, and can contribute to poor posture.

Stand tall and clasp hands behind your back, squeezing your shoulder blades as you raise arms. Lift higher to feel a deeper stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds

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4. The cat stretch

This is a great little stretch to do at the end of the day. It’s good for stretching out both upper and lower back and subtly works your core muscle too.

✔️ Try this: Begin in an all fours position with back flat before rounding spine and arching back your back and dropping chin to chest. Gently contract your abdominals as you do this taking care not to hold your breath. Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat. Do a total of five arches.

5. The hamstring stretch

A lying hamstrings stretch is a great way to stretch out backs of legs and a chance to lie down at the same time! Maintaining flexibility in the hamstrings is important, particularly if you’re active and/or deskbound as tight hamstrings can place additional stress on the lower back, aggravating or even causing lower back pain.

✔️ Try this: Lie on the floor with both legs bent and wrap a resistance band, or a scarf or towel, around the base of one foot (your other foot should remain on the floor). Slowly extend your leg upwards and aim to reach a right angle – you should feel a stretch but no pain. Once you feel a decent stretch, hold for 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.

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6. The bum stretch

A good glute (buttock) stretch shouldn’t be overlooked either – this can also help to ease any hip or lower back stiffness.

✔️ Try this: Lie on your back with legs bent, feet flat on the floor. Lift your legs off the floor and cross your right leg over the thigh, above your knee, of your left leg. Pull your left thigh and push your right foot (keep your right foot straight) towards you until you feel a stretch in your right buttock. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

7. The hip stretch

Finish your stretching sequence with the dreamy hip roll exercise. More of a mobility exercise, the hip roll also stretches out muscles around the hips, lower back and chest.

✔️ Try this: Lie on your back with legs bent at the knee, feet flat, arms out to the side. Roll your hips and legs to the right, keeping feet flat on floor, as you roll head to the left. Hold for a count of three seconds, before returning to centre and repeating on the other side. Perform a total of 10 rolls.

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Last updated: 09-01-2020

Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB) Dr Juliet McGrattan Dr Juliet McGrattan spent 16 years as a GP, two years as a Clinical Champion for Physical Activity for Public Health England and is the Women’s Health Lead for the 261 Fearless global running network. Her award winning book, Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health was published by Bloomsbury in 2017.

At the end of my classes, I always make sure my clients stretch—but I’m also adamant that they stretch during the week.

The best time to stretch is in the morning; you’ve been sleeping and your body hasn’t been active for hours, so if you take a few moments to stretch out your muscles, you’ll feel amazing for the rest of the day.

I have two favorite types of stretching—and they don’t require a yoga studio or Pilates membership.

1) Position your glutes on a foam roller and, while lying on the floor, slide one leg at a time slowly down to your calf and back; and
2) sit against a wall in a butterfly position on the floor. Place elbows on knees and stretch for 20 seconds, release, then try to go deeper for the next stretch. This will open up your hip flexors and relax those tightened muscles.

This all takes work, but if you want to achieve the best results, your body needs to maintain a healthy level of elasticity.

Jen Barnet is a trainer and owner of XCYCLE spin studio in Las Vegas and a columnist for Men’s Fitness.

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!

Do you have lower back pain? If so, I’m sure you would like some relief. By doing back stretches regularly, my symptoms vanished after experiencing chronic lower back pain a good part of my life. These stretching exercises only take 10 minutes.

I have over 30 years experience as an AFAA certified instructor teaching low-impact aerobics, muscle strength training, and stretching. I recorded this short video for people who are looking for some quick back stretches they can do at home.

These exercises are safe for people of all ages, including seniors.** Also, people who have chronic conditions, such as MS will benefit from doing these exercises.**

Best Stretching Exercise Video You Can Do at Home Quickly

You will experience many positive results from stretching regularly. The stretches in this video are basic stretches and focus on flexibility.

Benefits Received from Stretching and How to Stretch Safely

Knowing why you are doing certain exercises helps motivate you to keep doing them on a regular basis. Consistent exercise creates the results you want.

Benefits Received from Stretching

  • Improve Flexibility and Increase your Range of Motion
  • Improve Performance in Physical Activities
  • Decrease Injuries

Stretching Improves Flexibility and Increases Range of Motion

Stretching can help improve flexibility, increasing the range of motion in your joints. Increased mobility allows your joints to move through their full range of motion and your muscles to work most efficiently.

Improve Performance in Physical Activities

Flexible, efficient working muscles can enhance your performance in physical activities of all kinds.

Decrease Injuries

Along with the benefits listed above, stretching increases blood flow to the muscles. All these benefits result in lowering your risk of being injured when you are physically active.

Before you plunge into stretching, make sure you stretch safely and efficiently. While you can stretch anytime, anywhere — in your home, at work, in a hotel room or at the park — you want to be sure to use proper technique. Stretching incorrectly can do more harm than good.

Tips to Keep Stretching Safe

  • Warm-up your muscles
  • Stretch without bouncing
  • Breathe as you stretch
  • Stretch regularly

Warm up your muscles

Before stretching, warm up your muscles with light walking, jogging or biking at low intensity for 5 to 10 minutes. Or, if you prefer, you can also stretch after you exercise while your muscles are still warm. You don’t want to stretch cold muscles. (So far, studies haven’t shown a benefit for stretching before exercise. However, if you prefer to warm up before your exercise, it’s ok if you warm your muscles first.)

Stretch Without Bouncing

Stretch in a smooth movement, without bouncing. Bouncing as you stretch can cause injury to your muscle. Breathe normally as you stretch. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching, not pain.

Stretch Regularly

Keep up with your stretching. Stretching can be time-consuming. But you can achieve the most benefits by stretching regularly, at least two to three times a week. I like to stretch in the evening while I’m watching TV.

10 Minutes of Stretching Major Muscle Groups for Added Flexibility

*If you have a chronic condition or an injury, you may need to adjust your stretching techniques. For example, if you already have a strained muscle, stretching it may cause further harm. Ask your doctor about the most appropriate way to stretch if you have health concerns.****

**Remember to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

***After experiencing unusual symptoms for 15 years, my doctors diagnosed me with MS in 2009. I’m confident that doing these exercises on a regular basis is how I’ve stayed physically active and avoided injuries.

****Before using Debbie Jorde’s exercise videos you agree to talk with your doctor and you agree to release Debbie Jorde of all liability should you get injured while using her videos.

Additional Exercise Classes for Exercising at Home with Debbie

For detailed information about low-impact aerobics and the benefits of cardiovascular exercises see Best Introductory Low-Impact Aerobics Exercise Video You Can Do at Home. As the title states, the exercises in this video introduce you to basic, easier aerobic moves that use slow-paced music.

6-min abs and 1-min lower back:

Quick Home Exercises Video for Abs and Lower Back Strengthening

5-min upper body weights and 3-min stretching:

Quick Home Exercises Video for Toning and Stretching

1-hr low-impact aerobics, introduction, slower music:

Best Introductory Low-Impact Aerobics Exercise Video You Can Do at Home

1-hr low-impact aerobics, medium level, faster music:

Best Low-Impact Aerobics Exercise Video Medium Level for Safe Home Use

Enjoy an additional low impact cardio class which includes light hand-weights of under 5 lbs, held in your hands during a small portion of the class while performing the aerobic moves.

14-min cardio with light hand weights:

Best Low-Impact Aerobics w Arm Toning Exercise Video for Safe Home Use

Recommended Reading:

Stretching May Offer Extended Benefits NBC News

  • Consult your doctor for alternative exercises that can help increase your flexibility if physical limitations of any sort prevent you from properly performing a stretching exercise.
  • There are a few standard safety tips for stretching that you should follow regardless of your fitness level:

    • Don’t bounce. Avoid ballistic stretching. avoid bouncing unless these types of stretches have been recommended to you by a doctor or physical therapist.
    • Avoid to stretch yourself beyond the point of comfort. you should never feel pain while stretching, remember, it’s normal to feel some tension when stretching a muscle NOT PAIN. Thus, back off the stretch If the area you are stretching starts to hurt, until you don’t feel any discomfort.
    • Don’t overdo it. Like other forms of exercise, stretching puts stress on your body. If you’re stretching the same muscle groups multiple times a day, you risk over-stretching and causing damage.
    • Avoid going into your stretches without warming up first. stretching becomes a lot more difficult when the muscles are cold because cold muscle are not as pliable.

    It is important to realize that stretching must be done before or after work out. However, if you’re not exercising before performing your stretches, YOU MUST warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with some light cardio, such as walking or jogging.

    Conclusion

    Making stretching a part of your activities will help you prevent back pain, stress, poor mobility, improve range of motion among other. Remember, even those who can’t exercise can benefit from doing stretch exercises.

    The 10-Minute Stretching Sequence You Should Do Every Day

    Stretching is one of those things that tends to get dropped to the bottom of people’s healthy to-do lists, but adding it to your daily routine can be highly beneficial. Research shows that post-workout static stretching—where you hold a pose for 10 to 30 seconds—can improve range of motion around your joints.

    “Stretching after you exercise can help move inflammation out of your muscles and increase blood flow,” says Ben Greenfield, a personal trainer and author of Beyond Training. Spending time lengthening your limbs also has mental benefits. “Going through a series of stretches can reduce stress and cortisol levels,” Greenfield adds.

    While the best time to stretch is when muscles are warm—say, after a walk or a workout—stretching is so beneficial that whenever you can squeeze it in, you should. Use the following routine to get started. Try to hold each stretch for as long as it takes to breathe five to six slow, deep breaths.

    Daily Stretching Sequence

    Chest Opener
    Muscles targeted: chest, shoulders

    Directions:

    1. Stand facing a corner of a room. With your arms at your sides and elbows bent at about shoulder height, press one palm into each wall while staggering your feet behind you.
    2. Slowly lean inward, pressing your chest towards the wall until you feel a stretch in your chest.
    3. Hold without allowing your forearms or hands to move.

    Glute Bridge
    Muscles targeted: glutes, quads, core

    Directions:

    1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet as close to your pelvis as possible.
    2. Press down through your heels and lift your pelvis off the floor.
    3. Continue lifting until your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your knees (your shoulders should still be on the floor). Keep your knees in line with your feet.
    4. Hold at the top before lowering back down.

    Figure-Four Stretch
    Muscles targeted: piriformis (a gluteal muscle)

    Directions:

    1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet pressed into the ground.
    2. Cross your left ankle over your right knee, and then reach your hands around your right thigh.
    3. Pull your right thigh towards you (keeping your upper body on the floor). Hold, then repeat on the other side.

    Seated Stretch
    Muscles targeted: spinal flexors, obliques

    Directions:

    1. Sit with legs extended straight in front of you.
    2. Cross your right leg over your left, planting your right foot outside your left knee.
    3. Twist to the right, placing your left elbow outside your right knee, and look over your shoulder. Hold, then repeat on other side.

    Straight-Leg Pull
    Muscles targeted: hamstrings

    Directions:

    1. Lie on your back with both legs flat against the ground.
    2. Lift your right leg up off the ground, placing your hands behind your right thigh.
    3. Keeping your right leg straight, pull it towards your chest as far as you can. Hold, then repeat on other side.

    Bent-Leg Pull
    Muscles targeted: glutes

    Directions:

    1. Lie on your back with your left leg bent and your right leg straight up in the air.
    2. Loop a band around the sole of your right foot.
    3. Keeping your left foot planted firmly on the mat, pull your right leg in towards your chest. Hold, then repeat on other side.

    Pancake Stretch
    Muscles targeted: Hip extensors, adductors

    Directions:

    1. Sit on the ground with your legs straight and in the shape of the letter “V.”
    2. Hinge forward at the hips and reach your torso towards your toes, getting your upper body as close to the floor as possible between your outstretched legs. Hold, and then walk your arms back toward your body to sit back up.

    Calf Stretch Against Wall
    Muscles targeted: calves

    Directions:

    1. Standing near a wall, place the toes of your right foot on the base of the wall.
    2. Lean in towards the wall, feeling the stretch in your calf. Make sure not to bend your back leg—only go as far as you can while keeping it straight.
    3. Hold, then repeat on other side.

    This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.

    Alice Oglethorpe

    Alice Oglethorpe is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, IL. She covers health, happiness, fitness, and anything else that piques her interest. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Self, Shape, Fitness, Redbook, Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Psychology Today, Good Housekeeping, and more.

    How to be flexible in 5 minutes?

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