The question: I hate yoga, but I know that deep stretching is good for my aches and sore muscles. What are the most effective stretches if I don't want to spend more than five minutes stretching per day?
The answer: I am like you. I know how important stretching is, but I find it so hard to make myself do it!
My solution: As long as I make myself do the following stretches once per day, I don't allow myself to feel guilty about being a stretching delinquent. Give the routine a try – it is perfect for people like us because the entire thing takes all of five minutes.
Wall hamstring stretch: Lie on your back. Straighten your left leg and place it on a door frame. Make sure your bum is on the ground. Let your right leg extend on the ground through the doorway. Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs.
Figure 4: Lie on your back. Bend your left leg to 90 degrees and place your left foot against the wall. Place your right ankle on your left knee. Keep your bum on the ground as you push gently on your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs.
Standing lunge hip-flexor stretch: Step your right leg behind you. Keep both feet facing forward and bend your knees slightly. Tuck your pelvis so your right hip bones move towards your ribs. Feel the stretch up the front of your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs.
Standing calf stretch: Stand on a step with the ball of your right foot on the edge. Let your right heel fall towards the ground. Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs.
Chest stretch: Bend your right arm to 90 degrees and place it against the edge of a door frame. Rotate your body to the left. Hold for 30 seconds before switching arms.
Trainer's tip: On days I feel particularly unmotivated, I will negotiate with myself. For example, I allow myself to stretch in front of the television. Or, since I love running so much more than stretching, I tell myself I can only run if I allocate five minutes at the end of my workout to stretching. Try it! Experiment and find the strategy that works for you.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.
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