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Feel-good stretches

Good Health
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Image: Getty
Brought to you by Good Health magazine

Do those muscles of yours feel tighter than they used to? If so, it’s time to release the tension and start to improve your mobility, flexibility and strength through a series of stretching exercises that are easy to do any time, anywhere.

Regular stretching helps the body move more freely while encouraging lubrication of joints and promoting better posture, as well as reducing stress levels. So aim to do the following stretches daily — outdoors in the fresh air, or even at your desk — to be on your way to a refreshed feel-good body!

Stretch

Main areas stretched: Hips, bottom, outer thigh

  1. Stand next to wall with your left side closest to it.
  2. Cross your left leg behind your right leg.
  3. Begin to bend your body slightly towards the right side, pushing the left hip towards the wall until you feel a stretch along the left side of your body, from the hip down.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat again before changing sides.

Tip: Do not lean forward while executing this stretch as you won’t isolate the muscles you need to.

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Seated glute stretch

Main areas stretched: Gluteals, piriformis (deeper muscle that runs across each buttock cheek).

  1. Find a place to sit down where you’re in an upright position and have both feet on the floor.
  2. Bring the right foot up and place it across the thigh of the left leg.
  3. Leaning forward from the hip, move the chest down towards the legs until you feel a stretch in the right buttock cheek.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before repeating on the same leg. Then repeat on the other leg.

Tip: To increase the intensity, place your hand under your foot and gently pull upwards.

Achilles tendon & calf stretch

Main areas stretched: Achilles tendon and soleus (part of the calf muscle)

  1. From a kneeling position, bring the left foot forward so that it’s in line with the right knee, allowing the heel of the left foot to be raised slightly off the ground.
  2. Begin to lower the left heel to the ground rolling back gently until the heel touches the ground. Leaning forwards with the chest over the thigh, you will be able to feel a stretch from the heel up the back of the lower leg.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat again before changing sides.

Tip: To deepen the stretch, aim to almost sit on your calf.

The inside leg stretch

Main area stretched: Hamstring and adductor muscles (inside muscle of the thigh).

  1. Begin standing with the right leg out in front, resting on the heel of the right foot.
  2. Place both hands on the left thigh and, keeping the left leg bent and the right leg straight, push the right heel into the ground until you feel a stretch up the back of the right leg (hamstring muscles).
  3. Once you’ve held the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, place the right hand on the inside of the right knee (allowing the right knee to bend slightly). Push against your right knee with your right hand while the knee pushes inwards against the hand. You’ll feel the stretch in the inner thigh. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat before repeating on the opposite side.

Tip: For variation, this stretch can also be carried out while sitting on a Swiss ball.

From Good Health magazine.


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