This single leg stretch works the hips while improving gut health (yes, really)

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: single leg stretches. 

Hands up who finishes the work day with rounded shoulders, tight hips and a gurgling stomach? Us too. After leaning over your desk for hours, sitting in an uncomfortable chair and shovelling lunch in a 10-minute window between meetings, it’s no surprise. But you need to stretch all of that away for a comfortable evening. 

This single-leg, knee-to-chest stretch is the answer. Not only will it elongate your crushed hips, but it will also help your digestion. Here’s how. 

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What is a single-leg stretch?

A single leg stretch involves lying on your back and squeezing one knee in towards your chest. 

This exercise is great because it:

It stretches the hips: the flexors get a stretch on the leg that’s straight, while the whole joint is worked on the leg that’s bent. 

It aid digestion: by massaging your colon as your leg squeezes into your stomach.

It can reduce pain: single leg work is great for sorting out any imbalances, and stretching the hips will stop muscles from getting tight after a day sat down. 

What muscles are worked in single-leg stretches?

The single leg stretch mainly works the muscles around the hips, including: 

  • Hip flexors (connecting the pelvis to the thigh)
  • Hip abductors (around the glutes)
  • Hip adductors (the inner thighs)
  • The quads 
  • The lower abdominals 

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How to do single-leg stretches 

  1. Lie on your back on a yoga mat with your legs out straight. 
  2. Bend one knee and lift it towards the chest, bringing your arm around your hamstring or shins depending on your flexibility. 
  3. Keep the other leg extended out straight, pointing through the toes to feel a deeper stretch in the front of your hip. 
  4. Release the knee back down and repeat on the other side. 

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Images: Stylist

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