Personal trainer Bonnie Smith talks a lot about how our lives and work habits basically turn our bodies into tightly wound springs.
One area where it’s important to stay loose is the hips, because that helps the back.
“All day long, you’re using the front of your hip area, your hip flexors,” she says. By stretching the hamstrings you lengthen the muscles in the back of the leg.
One exercise stretches out the hamstrings and glutes, with a hip rotation thrown in for good measure. Here’s how it’s done:
“It’s very important you don’t lift the (left) hip,” she adds. “If the hip is lifting, then you’re probably going too far out to the right” with the right leg.
Repeat with the other leg.
Once you’ve mastered this move, you can amp it up further by laying the left leg flat and then bringing the right leg across your body, to the left.
This stretches the piriformis, a band of muscle that runs across the hip joint that’s also near the sciatic nerve.
“If you have tight hamstrings, glutes and piriformis, you will most likely end up with some lower-back issues,” Smith says. “Another reason to stretch! Keep your muscles lengthened and you’ll have more space in your body.”