This hip and hamstring stretch is all about the details

meIf you’ve found yourself bending over or lying on the floor to get some relief from your sore hips and hamstrings, you’re in good company. Thanks to a workplace culture that promotes sitting for long periods of time, these particular body parts can become tight and swollen, which can lead to a sensation of pain simply from being still. “Repetitive stress of any kind can lead to inflammation, and this includes inactivity,” Jeff Brannigan, program director at Stretch*d, told Well+Good. “Being still all day, every day, is one of the worst things you can do for your body.” Brannigan explains that inactivity causes muscle fatigue, which will cause the muscles to shorten. Enter: tight hips and hamstrings from sitting all day.

By now, you may be familiar with some tried-and-true hip and hamstring openers like a forward tuck, runner’s lunge, pigeon, and figure four. In this latest episode of good stretchClara Baini of Good Day Pilates walks you through many of those stretches and more. You’ll start with a forward fold and then move into downward facing dog. Next, he will move through a hip flexor lunge and alternate it with a hamstring stretch by straightening the front leg. A few pigeons and figure-four stretches will get into his entire lower body, and finally a hip-opening twist will set him loose for the rest of the day.

What really takes these stretches to the next level, though, is the detail in how Baini instructs you to move your body. For example, in downward facing dog, she tells you to pedal to get those hamstrings even deeper. While in a lunge, Baini shows him how to bend his pelvis so he can stretch his hips where he wants them without putting pressure on his lower back.

It also gives you clues about when to pause to make the most of a position, and shows how flexing your feet and straightening your toes can have a ripple effect throughout your body. Like: “Maybe even squeeze your right buttock a little bit to increase sensation through the front of your right hip,” says Baini as he stretches his hip. Who would have thought of that?! The delight is in the details.

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