It is the beginning of the new year and we are starting with a brand new Stretch of the Month, The Wall Lunge. This stretch targets your quadriceps and hip flexors. Since it is January, month #1, and this particular stretch can be quite intense let's go over some basic safety tips for stretching...
1. Remember to breathe throughout the entire stretch. If one area feels particularly tight, send the breath directly to that spot.
2. Only go to the point of "good" pain. If you feel a pull, strain, or pain in any position release it and ask for a modification. This way you'll get the full benefit of the pose without injuring yourself.
3. Always warm up prior to stretching. This could be marching in place, a light walk/jog, or circling the joints.
For The Wall Lunge make sure you have a blanket, towel, or rolled up mat to protect your knee in this pose. The Wall Lunge can feel extreme especially for runners or people with tight thighs and hips. Practicing this pose will decrease low back pain and create more range of motion in your hips for your everyday and fitness activities.
-Place your knee padding on the floor up against a wall. Get on all 4's facing away from the wall. Place your right knee in the crease where the floor and the wall meet. Your right shin should be against the wall with your toes pointing up to the ceiling.
-Place your hands on the floor in front of you and step your left foot in between the hands.
-Square off your hips by pulling the left hip back and moving the right hip forward. Engage your abdominals by bringing the low belly in towards your spine.
-Bring your hands to the top of your left thigh so that your body is upright (shoulders directly over the hips). Let your hips sink forward with the tailbone curling forward slightly.
-Make sure your low back is lengthening and the shoulder blades are sliding down the back. Front ribs are knitting in and together, and the sternum is reaching up to the ceiling to broaden the chest.
-Take 5 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.
Modifications: "What if?..."
"This is too intense for my leg against the wall!..." Move your knee a few inches away from the wall. If this is still too much, move completely away from the wall and keep the entire lower leg on the floor.
"I don't feel anything..." Make sure your upper body is upright, you are engaging your abdominals, and the pelvis is slightly moving forward.
"I need more of a stretch..." Reach your arms up to the ceiling and take a high arch in the upper back. Try to reach the wall behind you without compromising good form in your low back.
Good luck with this one! (Stretch class can't wait to move on to February's Stretch of the Month). Contact me if you need ideas for special modifications, or come to class to give it a try and get hands on help!