Low body stretches to relieve tension and pain
Tightness is the lower body is a drag and can alter the way you carry out (and enjoy) your daily activities. Low back and hip tightness and shortened hamstrings all lead to restricted range of motion and pain.
Both Legs In Front – For Hamstrings And Low Back
Sit with your legs extended in front of you, hands by your side for balance and stability.
Simply shake your legs out but alternately raising each knee slightly. Alternate this with wiggling your feet side to side.
Now hold your legs straight placing your hands on your legs, and slowly bend forward at the waist. Reach toward your toes, but it does not matter if you touch them. Touching the toes is not the goal; releasing tension in the hamstrings is the goal.
Keeping your legs in place, sit up and turn your body to the left, as if trying to look behind you. Breathe in as you turn back to front and out as you continue moving to your right side. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds.
Single Cross Leg – For Hip Flexors And Low Back
Maintain the seated position with your legs in front. Now bend your right knee and place your foot over your left thigh. If you cannot reach the thigh, that is ok; you can place your foot over your shin or even on the floor next to your left leg, and still be able to do the stretch. With your foot in place, gently and slowly press and release your knee in a pulsing action.
Do the same on the other side.
Straddle Stretch – For Hamstrings And Low Back
Now slowly open your legs into a straddle, or middle split position. Place your hands on your legs, palm up.
Sway side to side, hands sliding along the legs toward the feet, to loosen the lower back. Be sure to breathe gently and continuously; do not hold your breath.
Raise up your right arm above your head, keeping your left hand on your left leg, and gently bend to the left. Your left hand will move toward your left foot and your right hand will reach over your head, as if trying to touch your left foot.
Hold for a count of 10 or 20 seconds before slowly moving to the opposite side.
Return to center position, lengthen your spine upward, and inhale deeply. Now exhale as you gently bend forward. Some people are less flexible here, so taking it easy and bending forward in three stages is best. That is, bend 1/3 and pause for a bit to relax the muscles; then bend another third forward and hold to release; and finally lean the rest of the way forward that you, personally, can manage, and hold for a count of 10. You can rest on your forearms to help stabilize your body and allow for more relaxation and release.
Straddle Twist – For Hip And Low Back
From the straddle position, gentle twist your body to the left. As you reach your hands to place them on the ground on the other side of your left thigh, you will naturally adjust your hips and position of your right leg (see video for detail).
Twist your hips, spine, shoulders, and neck as if trying to look completely behind you. Breathe gentle and relax while releasing tension.
Now keep your lower body stable and raise your right arm up and then place it behind your right hip. Without moving the lower body, stabilize your low back with your right hand and look over your right shoulder.
Slowly re-position and repeat both stretches on the other side.
Tortoise Stretch – For Hips And Inner Thighs
Return to center and bend your knees with feet flat on the floor. Place your elbows inside your knees and try to hold your ankles with your hands. If you cannot do this, it is ok to hold your knees with your hands. Bend forward as you are able, perhaps only a few inches will feel the stretch.
Relax your back and hips then lean forward. Breathe out as you bend forward to help release the tension.
Butterfly Stretch – For Hips
Now pull your feet together into the butterfly position. Hold your feet and allow your knees to drop to their sides, relaxing the hips.
In this position, lengthen your spine upward before bending forward at the hips. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat three times.
Remember: Everyone is at different levels of pain and flexibility. The goal in each of these exercises is not to ‘touch your toes’ but rather to feel relaxed and release tension and tightness. Do not stretch to be flexible but to feel good. Try each stretch by itself for three sets of 20 seconds, or string them into one routine for a more complete exercise. In all cases, enjoy the process!
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