Moves and advice to keep body shape in peak condition and feel flexible.
By now you’ve discovered why stretching is so sweet – you ease tension, get out kinks and enjoy better workout results. Want to loosen up even more? Deepen your stretches. Hold each one for a full 60 seconds. Your muscles are more likely to remain lengthened. Stretch more quickly and, like a rubber band, your muscles snap back to their original position. Grab a towel for this routine to help you hold the stretch. Exhale into each move and breathe deeply; every time you exhale, stretch farther. Do them three times a week.
Lie back; bring one leg straight up and loop a towel around it just above your ankle. Gently pull leg toward you until you feel the stretch; hold for 60 seconds. Lower your leg to the floor a few inches to release; repeat twice: switch legs.
Lie back, bend your left leg and rest your left ankle above your right knee. Grab behind your right knee and pull the leg toward you. For a deeper stretch, gently push your left knee away from you with the other elbow; hold for 60 seconds. Release and repeat. Do two stretches on each leg.
Stretch With feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes pointed out, squat and place elbows inside knees. Gently push knees outward with elbows until you feel the stretch. Hold for 20 seconds, and then push your legs in against elbows so muscles contract for 10 seconds. Push knees outward again and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat.
Lying on your left side with arms outstretched and knee bent, grab right foot near laces of shoe and pull leg straight back, making sure thigh stays almost parallel to floor. The farther back you pull your hip, the deeper the stretch. Hold for 60 seconds; repeat; then switch legs.
Place feet 2 to 3 feet from wall, shoulder-width apart. Lean hands on wall, bending at waist (pull navel in to protect back). Squeeze shoulder blades together, lowering chest to floor. Keeping navel in, walk hands down wall (torso stays stable). Hold for 60 seconds. Release and repeat.
Follow your breath. It will take you where you need to go when you stretch.
Why it works: When you’re breathing is restricted, you can’t perform at your best – at work or at the gym. By taking a deep breath and directing it toward the tension in your body, your muscles relax and your range of motion improves.