Let’s keep the holiday train rolling along. In Part 1, we discussed just getting moving more using dynamic warm-ups.
In Part 2, we are going to look at a bunch of different stretches that you can utilize to avoid ending up a complete ball of stress and knots come January.
Back on Thanksgiving morning, I started sharing different ways to help get people through the holiday season without having to give up exercise.
I even suggested that it is NOT a crazy thought to begin doing some extra activity or exercise during this time of year.
Understanding that many people would view that as crazy advice, I gave examples of things you can do.
Most people stretching their hamstrings are really stretching their sciatic nerve. The hamstring runs from the bottom of your butt to the back of the knee.
Rounding your back to stretch the hamstrings makes no sense. It does not improve hamstring flexibility but it does tension the sciatic nerve.
Most people attempt to stretch the hip flexor incorrectly by moving too far forward and arching the low back too much. If this is you, watch the video. The key is the setup.
Set up with your feet anchored under a dumbbell rack or other solid structure that will not move. Focus on bracing the abs, staying tall throughout the motion and not bending at the hips. Perform the hamstring drop with only one leg on the way down and both legs coming back up. Try to keep the emphasis on the hamstring, not the arms and shoulders. The upper body is definitely assisting the movement, but the hamstrings should be the focus. Enjoy.
This will punch your hamstrings right in the mouth. Set up with both knees bent, feet flat on the ground with a slider under one of your feet. Lift the foot that is not on the slider off the floor. Perform a single-leg bridge with the other leg. Once at the top of the motion, straighten the knee by sliding the foot away from the body. When the knee is extended, keep the hips on the floor, bend the knee and start again with the single-leg bridge.
This is a great alternative if using some attachment for the hands increases back pain or you find yourself pulling too much with the arms. Start by setting the pulley so it is around hip-height. Set the strap so it goes around the front of your hips. Set and brace your neutral spine position. Focus on keeping pressure through the heels and sitting back through the hips. To return to the start position, squeeze the glutes and push the hips forward. Avoid overextending the hips and straightening the body as this will cause you to lose your balance and fall back.
This is an excellent movement for mobilizing and stretching the hips. Start with the first position and progress to the others as needed. Remember, focus on a mild-to-moderate intensity in the hip and glute area when performing these. Start in a pushup position. Bring one leg forward to the outside of the arm. In the second video, bend the elbow and try to get it as close to the floor as you can. In the third video, rotate the arm up towards the ceiling. Make sure to rotate the body, not just the arm. One way to help do this is to keep your eyes on your hand. The arm should not travel where the eyes cannot follow it.