“It’s the workout of the week I never miss,” says Kate Ligler, a certified trainer and MINDBODY wellness manager. “But leg day also requires attention to detail in terms of recovery. Tightness and adhesions (aka ‘knots’) in your body’s tissue are a natural response to exercise intensity. The good news is that releasing tension at the hips and glutes through some simple movements can help to release tissue and muscle tension, restoring range of motion and helping to re-engage muscles to their full strength and power following a workout.”
To ensure that you stretch out your booty in a soothing and effective way, Ligler and a couple other trainers offer up their wisdom to help you get the job done. Ahead you’ll discover a handful of stretches to incorporate into any recovery routine.
Double pigeon stretch
“One of my favorite glutes stretches is a double pigeon stretch,” Andrea Dusel-Foil, a says Lagree NY megaformer instructor, noting that it stretches your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. “Sit on the floor with the right leg bent (almost like you are going to sit crosslegged). Keep the right shin parallel to the front edge of your mat (if you are on a mat). Stack the left shin directly on top of the right shin so that the left ankle is stacked on top of the right knee and the left knee is on top of the right ankle.”
From here, sit up tall on your sitz bones and stay there if it feels like a deep enough stretch. “If there is a lot of space between the left knee and right ankle, stay seated tall,” Dusel-Foil instructs. “For more intensity start to hinge forward from the hips keeping a long line from the crown of the head to the tailbone.” Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to a minute and gently come out of it and move to the other side, stacking the right shin on top of the left. “If there is any knee pain (especially if your hips and IT band tend to be tight) take a standing half pigeon instead to protect the joints,” Dusel-Foil says.
Seated folding four
“This stretch targets the hips, glutes, and piriformis,” says Lagree NY megaformer instructor Marie Carroll. “It can also help relieve lower back pain and tightness. “Sit with feet flat on the floor, hip-width distance apart. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Keeping your spine neutral, hinge from your hips, and fold your chest forward. It should feel like you’re trying to lift your belly button up and over your thighs. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. Hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds to a maximum of two minutes. Take deep breaths, inhaling through the nose, and exhaling through the mouth. Switch sides and repeat.”
“The standing pigeon stretches the major gluteus and relaxes the piriformis and psoas, meaning it’s a complete hip stretch,” explains Ligler. “To perform this exercise, stand tall and create a figure 4 position with one ankle across the knee. Either grab ahold of a stationary object and sit back to create the stretch in the glute of the elevated leg if you're advanced, or create an assisted figure four position by resting your ankle on a low table or chair and 'lean in' to create the stretch for a more basic stretch.”
Remember, while it’s a glute stretch, you still want to focus on what the rest of your body is doing too. “Be careful not to round your back and keep the chest slightly lifted,” Carroll says. “Your shoulders should be rolled down away from your ears. Hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds to a maximum of two minutes. Take deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Switch sides and repeat.”
Lying figure 4
Here’s another great way to release your hips, glutes, and lower back post-workout. “Lie on your back with your knees bent and place your left ankle across the opposite (right) knee,” Ligler instructs. “Lace your fingers behind your right hamstring and gently pull your right leg toward you to create a stretch in the left glutes. Switch legs after a 20 to 30 second hold.”
Carroll tacks on to this, noting that, if you have super tight hips, this stretch can be challenging to execute without bringing tension into your upper body. “To avoid taxing your upper body, use a wall to prop your foot up,” she instructs. “Hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds to a maximum of two minutes. Take deep breaths, inhaling through the nose, and exhaling through the mouth. Switch sides and repeat.”
Love learning new ways to stretch out your body? Next you might want to check out the three back exercises that whisk away the effects of sitting at a desk all day.
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