The importance of incorporating mobility into your fitness regime is invaluable. All too often people do high intensity endurance or strength workouts and skip their stretching, only to find muscle aching, joint pain and blockages in the body weeks, months or years afterward. Mobility also helps these intense strengthening exercises that a lot of athletes practice daily by introducing a full range of motion to the movement. It requires you to find a sweet balance in your body which translates to deep core strength rather than overworked ‘bulky’ muscles.
If you think about the average day, it includes a lot of sitting – car, desk, sofa, chair – an immense amount of sitting. If we don’t reverse the action of dead weight flexion on the hips – it can translate to low back pain and eventually knee pain, because everything connects. When the hips are inactive, the low back takes most of the slack. When the low back is tender, the knee joints take a lot of the slack of daily movements. Setting the physical importance aside, the hips are the place in our body where we hold emotional tension. It’s the intense part of the yoga class that you stay in for 5 minutes just to let your emotions seep through to the exterior. Happiness, sadness, pain, memories, can all come to surface when we stretch our hips – that is a benefit in-and-of itself.
These movements range from beginner to advanced, they can be practiced every day in the comfort of your own home. Here’s the scoop, in the order of the slideshow above:
- Sukasana: Comfortable cross-legged position. Make sure you are sitting directly on your sitting bones and your feet are flexed. If this feels good, you can begin to fold forward – keeping the back flat – over your shins. Beginner*
- Double Pigeon: Place your shins directly on top of each other and your feet flexed, about 1 inch apart from each knee. Your top knee might not come close to the other leg – that’s ok! Practice and all is coming. Intermediate*
- Single Pigeon: Keep your front shin parallel to the top of the mat; the more parallel it is the more intense the stretch is. Keep the front foot flexed and the back ankle rolling inward – instead of splaying out to the side. Exhale as you fold over the front leg, remember to create a lot of length in the back. Beginner*
- Thread The Needle: You can hold onto the hamstring or calf here, which ever gives the best stretch for your body. Keep both feet flexed and your low back on the mat. It’s also nice to place the foot of the leg you’re holding onto against a wall to help with leverage. Beginner*
- Extended Thread The Needle: Begin in the above pose, thread the needle, then if you feel really open – transfer your grip to hold onto the outside of the knee for the leg you’re pulling towards your body. You should be able to get the foot to the crease in your elbow. Extend the other leg straight and keep the foot flexed as you ground your low back into the mat. Advanced*
Make sure you practice both sides of the body! Let us know how you feel afterwards in the comments below or on Twitter @allgoodhealth_!