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Stretches for Flexibility

Hip Flexor Stretch
Next we have the hip flexor, as it is called in lay terms; to medical types it refers to the iliopsoas muscle, which flexes the hip. The hip flexors are instrumental in running, especially sprinting, as well as cycling and stair climbing.

Here is how you work your hip flexors:

  1. Kneel on both knees.
  2. Extend one leg forward so that the knee of the forward leg forms a right angle directly over the ankle.
  3. Gently lower the front of your hip downward so that the front leg lies on the ground like an L.
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and work the other hip.

Be careful of this stretch if you have knee problems. Here's a fine alternative to that stretch:

  1. Stand facing a support high enough that your hip and knee form a 90° angle.
  2. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on the support.
  3. Your grounded foot should be pointed straight ahead.
  4. Keeping your back straight, lean your hips forward until the heel of your standing foot lifts slightly from the floor.
  5. You should feel a slight stretch in the front of your right hip. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Repeat on your other leg.

Calf Stretch
To stretch your gastrocnemius (the calf to you and me), do the following:
  1. Stand on a solid support and lean forward against a wall with your head resting on your hands.
  2. Place one bent leg forward and extend the other leg with a straight knee behind.
  3. Slowly move your hips forward, keeping your lower back flat.
  4. Be sure to keep the heel of the straight leg on the ground with your toes pointed straight ahead.
  5. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Don't bounce, make sure you breathe, and repeat on the other side.

Here's a wrinkle to the gastrocnemius stretch to work the deeper calf muscle as well as the Achilles tendon:
  1. Assume the position we just described for the gastrocnemius stretch, but lower your hips downward as you slightly bend your back knee and bring it forward just a touch.
  2. Be sure to keep your back flat.
  3. Try to keep the heel of your back foot down.
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and stretch the other side.


Excerpted from he Complete Idiot's Guide to Weight Training © 2003 by Deidre Johnson-Cane and Jonathan Cane. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide website or call 1-800-253-6476.

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