Throughout this series of stretches, please remember to keep your tush on the mat and your neck long.
Good form allows you to get the maximum benefit of each stretch with the least amount of residual tension accumulating somewhere else in the body.
Here is an example of what not to do. It doesn't look comfortable does it?
Good form is especially important for those of you who are currently experiencing back or sciatic pain. Unwanted compression negatively effects the low back, the sciatic nerve, and the neck. Sometimes more damage than good comes from working in bad form.
1. Knee to Chest Stretch
Modification for bodies who are inflexible:
Place your hands on the back of your thigh if you are unable to reach the front of your leg.
2. Figure Four Stretch
2A. Advanced Figure Four Stretch
If figure four (shown above) doesn't give your hip enough stretch, lift the bottom leg off the ground while gently pressing the leg (not the knee) that is being stretched away from you.
Make sure to keep your hips squared!
Modification for back pain sufferers:
If lifting the leg off the ground gives you discomfort in any way,
or if you are currently experiencing sciatic pain,
place the bottom foot against a wall for additional support.
3. Piriformis Stretch
In the stretch, Whitney is pulling the knee closest to her (her left knee) towards her right shoulder. How far across the body she gets does not matter. Again, it's all about form.
Tush on the mat and a long neck.
4. Quad Stretch
I prefer to have my clients do this stretch laying down.
I'm sure many of you are familiar with the standing version of this stretch. More often than not the body is too tight to execute this with proper form, so we end up missing the stretch as well as putting unnecessary pressure on our backs.
I have found that the mat's support helps you find the best stretch while also achieving proper form.
Bad form habits to watch out for
- Over extending the low back.
- Due to that over extension, unnecessary compression is being loaded on the spine.
- She has lost the length in the front of the hip, reducing the effectiveness for the quad and hip.
Good form habits to enjoy
- Her long back is long
- No tension in the low back
- Deeper stretch for the hip and quad
5. TFL Stretch
Get in to this stretch in three steps:
- Do the quad stretch that was explained above.
- Put your heel on the top of your thigh.
- Gently pull the knee straight down to the mat.
6. Butterfly Stretch
Make sure to keep your back straight!
7. Modified Lotus Stretch
This is the time to adjust your outfit if needed. (Couldn't pass this up Whitney, sorry!) ;-)
If this doesn't feel like enough, check out the deets below!
7A. Lotus Stretch
Turn the body only enough so that you are facing the knee. No twisting (especially for you injured folk).
Make sure to stretch away from the leg that is on top for the deepest stretch.