Anyone with a desk job asks a great deal of their hips. Apart from coffee breaks, trips to the bathroom, and the occasional out-of-office lunch, the muscles hugging your booty are accustomed to living at a 90-degree angle for eight hour days. Meaning, when it comes time to stretch them, it’s all-the-more important to take time and care.
To help you do just that, Donna Flagg, a dancer and stretching instructor at Broadway Dance Center, says that you’ll need one unexpected body part to get on board: your belly button.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Belly buttons are weird, smelly, and pretty useless. All that is true, but Flagg tells me that you innie or outie has one more purpose. Namely, you can use it as a marker for getting a deeper, more complete hip flexor stretch.
“What many people don’t know is that hip flexors start in the lower back and insert into the top of the femur,” says Flagg. “So, in addition to being tight and uncomfortable in the front of your hips, they can also cause lower back pain and gripping.” When you slip into a low lunge on the floor to lengthen out your hip muscles, you won’t quite reach your lower back unless you do one extra step.
“It’s a super easy fix. All you have to do is suck your belly button in as hard as you can once you are in the lunge,” says the dancer. “It will catch the top of the muscle and you’ll feel this wonderful connection to the full length of the entire area.” The simple tweak to the very 101 stretch insights an “aha!” moment in your body—and it feels so good.
Once your belly is engaged and your mind is being repeatedly blown by how in your feelings you suddenly find yourself, you’ve hit the jackpot. Stay for as long as you like, then release. “Popping your butt back—or up—releases the stretch. It’s a game changer,” says Flagg.
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