if there is one stretch that will help a majority of students i know… especially those that suffer with low back pain, sciatica and/or general tightness in the legs and hips – it’s this one. it can be done either using a strap, as shown – or with a a door frame. i’ll instruct below – but this leg posture does a similar “trick” as last week’s arm stretch – notice after each side how the leg you just stretched actually feels like it’s grown an inch or two!
try this every day for one week and notice if your low back, legs and hips feel any different!
STRAP METHOD (great to do at the gym or in class)
1. lie flat on the floor with your head supported by a folded blanket or pillow.
2. bring the right knee toward the chest and take a strap (a belt works just fine) and place it around the sole of the right foot, with one end of strap held in each hand. allow either the arms to fully extend (no bend in the elbows) or the upper arms to rest completely on the floor (to keep the shoulders as relaxed as possible)
3. extend the right leg fully straight, even if that means it’s at an angle less than 90 degrees in relationship to the floor.
4. allow the left leg to stay straight and active on the floor, actively drawing the left thigh bone toward the floor (unless there is pain in the low back when you do this, in which case modify by bending the left knee and bringing the left foot to the floor).
5. flex both feet and stay active in the legs, feet and toes.
6. relax the jaw, shoulders and over all upper body as much as possible. yawning, sighing and moving your jaw around helps.
7. hold for 12-36 deep, slow breaths – closing your eyes and focusing on your right femur bone dropping heavily into your pelvic joint.
8. at this point, if you want, you can bring both straps into your left hand now and draw the straight right leg over toward the left for a hip stretch and twist.
9. release the strap and lie flat on the floor, noticing how the right leg, back and hip and feel.
10. repeat all these steps on with your left leg extended up.
DOOR FRAME METHOD (perfect to do at home)
1. come to a door frame – open the door
2. with your head supported, lie on your back and bring the left leg thru the open door space and the right leg up the door frame – resting the heel against the frame.
3. scoot toward the door, keeping your hips even, until you feel a little bit of stretch in the back of the leg (not too much at first, since we will be holding it for awhile).
4. stay active with both legs and feet – flexing the feet and bringing the left thigh bone down toward the floor.
5. let arms open out to your side completely relaxing your upper body
6. close your eyes and breath for 12-36 long, deep breaths
7. go to the other side of the door and do the same with the left leg up the door frame.