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11 movements that hit hard-to-reach muscles

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Whether or not you crush HIIT workouts as often as you throw back summer beers, stretching and self myofascial releases are all so important for a body that runs smoothly.

Since most of our days are spent hunched over a computer in our living rooms (or offices, if you’re one of the few who still rock out there), stiff joints and tight muscles are the norm. This is where mobility comes in.

“Mobility is something that improves your overall fitness goals and daily activities,”

; says Daury Dross, senior instructor at the Fhitting Room in NYC.

“After a car accident, I myself have three bulging discs in my back and I was told I could never do squats with a back load again,” says Dross. “But including such exercises in my daily stretching routine changed that and made me feel great again.”

Bonus? Dynamic stretching increases blood flow and can even help strengthen muscles for better performance.Manoel ME et al. (2008). Acute effects of static, dynamic, and proprioceptive neuromuscular relief on muscle strength in women. DOI: 10.1519 / JSC.0b013e31817b0433

We typed Dross for some unique moves that reach these hard-to-hit (but always sore) muscles. Try them out to recover.

Sometimes it’s about a lot more than just getting up to stretch your legs.

1. Blackburn

Aims: Shoulders and lats

Imagine trying to fly, but horizontally.

  1. Lie with your arms down over your glutes with your palms facing up.
  2. Swing your arms upward and rotate your palms as you move so that they are facing up.
  3. Back to the starting position. This is 1 rep. Repeat for 4 sets of 12 reps.

Here are 16 more routes that can bring mobility to your shoulders.

2. Origami stretch

Aims: Chest, shoulders, lower back, and quads

Fold into new shapes to feel a deep stretch.

  1. Start sitting in front of you with your legs outstretched.
  2. Cross your right leg over your left knee and place your left foot on the floor.
  3. While holding your right knee, lean back to lie down, and pull your right knee with you (you can drop your right shoulder for a deeper stretch).
  4. Bend at the knee to grab your left ankle and bring it toward your glutes for a quad stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side – and voila, that’s 1 set. Do 2 sets.

If you’re into full body stretches that span a number of different areas, yoga might be your bag – we’ve rounded up a few poses to get you started.

3. Drop your knees

Aims: Lower back

Back straighten back, okay?

  1. Sit on the floor in front of you with your knees bent and heels bent.
  2. Place your hands palms down and fingertips down, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  3. Drop both knees to the left and stack them at the end of the movement.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. That is 1 sentence. Do 2 sets.

Do you need more lower back stretches? We have your back.

4. Piriformis massage

Aims: Piriformis

The piriformis is a small muscle located deep behind your glutes that connects your lower spine to your femur and works on your hip. It’s hard to get to – but this massage can help.

  1. Start sitting in front of you with your legs outstretched.
  2. With your right hand, pull your left knee towards your chest and rock it like a baby (there, there) in your right arm. Your shin should be parallel to the floor.
  3. Extend your left arm straight to the left and place your fingertips on the floor as you gently lean left and back, straining the top / outer part of your glutes.
  4. Roll around here in circular motions until you feel pressure on your piriformis. If you are tight you will know when you feel it!
  5. When you find your piriformis, roll on it for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side to complete 1 set. Do 2 sets.

Not sure how flexible you are? Here’s how to find out.

In case it’s a day you need to ease the pain.

5. Calf massage

Aims: Calves (duh!)

Forget the typical calf stretch: that’s old moss. Next time your calves scream, try instead.

  1. Start in the table position with wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Place your left knee on your right calf.
  3. Gently push the knee into the calf muscle and make small circles for massaging, starting clockwise. Then change direction.
  4. Repeat these steps for 3 sets of 30 seconds on each leg.

Here are the best ways not to skip leg day at home.

6. Dynamic side lunge

Aims: Hips and hamstrings

Tight hamstrings are no fun at all. Solve them with this nifty maneuver.

  1. Start in a wide pose with your toes bent outward.
  2. Send your hips back and shift all of your weight onto your right side, lowering yourself into a side lunge. Let your left toes lift off the floor and point up.
  3. Push through your right heel and shift your weight to the left. Then repeat on the opposite side for 1 rep.
  4. Repeat this process for 30 seconds of continuous movement – that’s 1 set. Do 3 sets.

Getting to know lunges. They are a beast, but they can really improve your fitness game.

7. Cross-leg stretch

Aims: Hip flexors and inner thighs

It may look a bit funny, but it works.

  1. Start lying openly.
  2. Bring your knees up to your chest, then cross one leg over the other while simultaneously grasping your ankles with opposite hands.
  3. Pull both legs toward your chest and back out again until you feel the stretch in your hips and legs.
  4. Hold the position for 1 set for 30 seconds. Do 3 sets.

8. Stretch the frog

Aims: Hips

If you have tight hips, this one can be a killer – in a good way.

  1. Start on all fours on a padded surface like a yoga mat, rug, or grass with wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Spread your knees wider than your hips and twist your toes out. Slowly send your hips back between your feet to feel a stretch deep in your hips.
  3. If it’s too intense, support more of your body weight with your hands and torso, and slowly relax until you gain more flexibility.
  4. Hold 1 set for 30 seconds. Do 3 sets.

You may have hip pain (and no, they aren’t lying). We have rounded up 14 ways to expand and strengthen them.

9. Hamstring rest

Aims: Hamstrings, calves and hips

Yes, this is “leaning back”, but without the “and relaxing” that comes with it.

  1. Start on all fours with wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Extend your left leg straight to the left with your toes pointing up.
  3. Send your hips back to your right heel and shift all of your weight to the right side. You should feel a stretch along the back of your left leg.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat the entire shebang on the other side to complete 1 set. Do 2 sets.

If you’re a fitness bunny, avoid these four machines including the seated hamstring curl.

10. Hip opener

Aims: Hips

Loose lips sink ships, but loose hips mean you can stroll down the street and feel great. We know which one we prefer.

  1. Start in a high plank position with wrists under your shoulders and a firm core.
  2. Bring your left foot to the outside of your left hand, then weave your hand around the top of your foot and place it on your left side (this helps you go deeper than a traditional hip-opening stretch).
  3. Lean into your left hip, shifting your weight to the left while keeping your right foot in place.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. That is 1 sentence. Do 2 sets.

We’ve rounded up 11 other ways to keep those hips nice and open.

11. Legs apart thigh stretch

Aims: Hamstrings

Like your usual hamstring, but with a twist – in the truest sense of the word.

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than your hips.
  2. Cross your right foot as far to the left as you can (there should be a gap between your feet).
  3. Hang on your hips to bend over and grab your right toes.
  4. Lower as far as possible. If you have the flexibility to keep your legs straight, do so – this will maximize the stretch.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side to complete 1 set. Do 2 sets.

A thigh stretch can also help with the runner’s knee – learn more about the runner’s knee here.

You can try these routes anywhere. For improved mobility and flexibility, or even just to get rid of the pain that can result from sitting at a desk all day, you’ve come to the right place.

Thanks to Daury Dross for his expert guidance and GIF modeling. Make sure to check out the Fhitting Room if you are in the NYC area.

Stretching is important, but a whole great on it? We give you the option of whether stretching classes deliver the goods.

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