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