Active Recovery

The Next Best Thing to a Butt Massage? This Lower Body Release

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This isn’t your standard New Year’s plan. No restrictive diets, no weekly weigh-ins, no “whole new you” for this new year—because, hey, you’re pretty great already. These four expert-led plans—designed to help you move your body, eat more veggies, get a better night’s sleep, or show yourself some loving care—are all about developing healthy habits that better align with your goals. Get the Program

It doesn’t matter if you’re an Olympic runner or an Olympic binge-watcher: We all wake up in the morning with tight muscles. Considering we all feel a little stiff after a good night’s sleep, it's clear that resting alone isn’t quite enough to relieve tension in our muscles. If you’ve been following along in our ReNew Year Movement Program, today is your day to unwind from the challenges of the week with some gentle movement.

Even if you’re brand new to the program, you can benefit from these lower body stretches that will loosen you up from the waist down and leave you feeling refreshed. Trainer Ashley Joi is devoting every Friday in January to active recovery, so set aside twelve minutes today to complete this sequence, and your hips, hamstrings, and glutes will thank you tomorrow.

Try this 12-minute lower-body stretching routine

Runner’s lunge to rotation: This stretch is commonly called “the world’s greatest stretch,” and once you get into it, you’ll see why. Start off in a lunge, keeping your front knee directly over your big toe, and place your other leg either straight back behind you or bring your knee to the ground for some extra support. Plant the hand opposite from your front knee on the floor next to your foot, and twist your body to reach your other hand up to the sky for a nice stretch through your thoracic spine. If you need to, take a quick break in child's pose, then hit the opposite side.

Downward dog: What’s a lower body stretch without a downward dog? Place your hands on the ground, pike your butt up to the sky, and slowly relax your neck to gently push your chest toward your quads. For an extra stretch through your calves, bend one knee at a time to slowly peddle your feet one at a time.

Kneeling hip flexor stretch to hamstring stretch: This stretch should feel like a real treat to any tightness in your legs. Begin kneeling on one knee with your other foot planted in front of you to create a 90-degree angle. With energy, tuck your pelvis, and push forward slightly until you feel a stretch in your quad and hip flexor. For your hamstring stretch, extend your front leg out as straight as it will go, and as you exhale bring your chest toward the ground with your arms on either side of your leg for added support.

Pigeon stretch: If you've ever taken a yoga class, this hip-opening stretch should feel familiar. Bend your right leg in front of you, extend your back leg out behind you as straight as possible, and sink into your hips. Depending on how tight your hips feel today, you can stay upright, bring your hands to the ground, or take this stretch all the way down to your forearms.

Butterfly stretch: From a seated position, place your heels together and let your knees fall out to either side. The goal is to keep your chest wide and let your knees fall as close to the ground as they will go. You'll know you're doing it right when your hips start to breathe a sigh of relief.

Knee to chest: By now, your legs should be starting to release. Lying flat on your back, hug one knee at a time into your chest and let the other leg extend out in front of you on the ground. to give your hips a little extra love, bring the knee that’s pulled into your chest out to the side.

T-spine rotation: Time to take this lower-body stretch home! Take your right knee into your chest, and bring it across your body until you look like the letter ‘P.’ Sticking with the alphabet imagery, bring your arms out like an upper-case ‘T,’ for a nice upper-back stretch.

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