Stretching and fitness go hand-in-hand. We stretch before we work out to avoid hurting ourselves and pulling muscles. And we stretch afterward to avoid muscle tension later on. Stretching is a great way to wake up and relieve stress as well.
And those stretches are even better when we are working some muscles at the same time.
Our move today is a pike hold on our toes. All you need is a flat surface and a yoga mat, if needed. This stretch is similar to a forward fold, but your leg positioning is slightly different. You will be stretching your upper body through the arms and back and get a good release in your hips, glutes and hamstrings. By adding the flexion onto the toes you are engaging your calf muscles and your quadriceps as well. This is a great move for your core, being a constant reminder to tighten in the tummy for poise and balance.
Begin this stretch by standing tall and placing your feet just outside of your hips. Proceed to bend in your hips reaching for the floor, placing your hands flat on the ground. Keep your arms straight, but not locked, and your neck neutral. Walk your hands slightly forward so you are not in an actual hairpin bend.
Once you feel balanced and comfortable, lift your heels off of the ground and balance on your tippy-toes. By doing this small movement and holding it you will feel numerous muscles engage and stretch slightly deeper. Continue to hold this movement on your toes for at least 10 seconds.
Release by dropping back to your feet and walking your hands back and slowly articulating your spine up to a standing position. Catch your breath, then repeat.
Some may be able to hold the stretch for a longer period of time, and others may not be able to fold all the way to the floor at first. If this is the case, bend as far as you can and place your hands on the seat of a chair or the edge of a coffee table. The point is to get a considerable bend in your body and engage the muscles in your legs.
After stretching a few times, you will see your flexibility increase and you will eventually be able to place your hands on to the floor.
The stretch is great on its own or good after any workout.
— Marlo Alleva, an instructor at Gold’s Gym and group fitness coordinator at Fontaine-Gills YMCA, in Lakeland, Florida, can be
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