If you’ve found yourself bending over or lying on the floor to give your achey hips and hamstrings some relief, you’re in good company. Thanks to a work culture that promotes sitting for long periods of time, these body parts in particular can become tight and inflamed, which can lead to a feeling of soreness simply by being immobile. “Repetitive stress of any kind can lead to inflammation, and this includes inactivity,” Jeff Brannigan, program director at Stretch*d, previously told Well+Good. “Being still all day, every day, is one of the worst things you can do for your body.” Brannigan explains that inactivity causes muscle fatigue, which will lead to your muscles shortening. Enter: Tight hips and hamstrings from sitting all day.
By now, you may be familiar with some tried-and-true hip and hamstring openers, such as a forward fold, runner’s lunge, pigeon, and figure four. In this latest episode of Good Stretch, Clara Baini of Good Day Pilates leads you through many of those stretches and more. You’ll start in a forward fold and then move into a downward dog. Next, you’ll move through a hip flexor lunge, and alternate it with a hamstring stretch by straightening out your front leg. Some pigeons and figure four stretches will get deep into your whole lower body, and finally a hip-opening twist will loosen you up for the rest of your day to come.
What really takes these stretches to the next level, though, is the details in the way Baini instructs you to move your body. For example, in the downward dog, she cues you to pedal your feet to get into those hamstrings even deeper. While in a lunge, Baini shows you how to tuck your pelvis so you get the stretch in your hips where you want it, without putting pressure on your lower back.
She also clues you in on moments in which to pause so you get the most out of a position, and she shows you how flexing your feet and stretching your toes can have a ripple effect throughout your whole body. Like: “Maybe even give your right buttcheek a little squeeze to increase the sensation through the front of the right hip,” Baini says while in that hip stretch lunge. Who would have thought of that?! The deliciousness is in the details.