After long hours spent in transport or a day of work in a seated position, stretching your muscles and tendons in depth can be life-saving. Beyond the immediate relaxation they provide, stretching improves muscle flexibility and posture. Justine Corrierfounder of the Pilates by Justine method, which combines Pilates with yoga and dance, recommends 5 specific exercises to stretch the back, quadriceps and chest.
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Stretching n°1: the Warrior, relaxation yoga version
The arms, shoulders, rib cage, abdominals, intercostals and quadriceps of the leg placed behind.
The Warrior Stretch
The starting position Standing, place the right leg well forward, and the left leg far behind, with both feet parallel. Then bend the right leg making sure to keep the right knee just above the right heel. Place the 2 hips and the 2 shoulders well in front.
- On a deep inhalation through the nose, stretch the arms towards the sky and open the face, keeping the neck elongated and the engagement of the pelvis in slight retroversion (coccyx towards the ground) in order to also feel a stretching of the upper right thigh .
- On the exhale, lower your arms back to the floor. Continue the movement. Inhale as you raise your arms, exhale as you lower.
- Perform the exercise on both sides.
Number of repetitions 5 to 10 breaths per side.
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Stretch n°2: the quadriceps
The stretched area
The quadriceps (upper thigh), which tends to contract during prolonged sitting. This is the ideal posture to do during lunch break or at the end of a journey.
The starting position Standing, feet together at the start, lean on a chair in order to have a good balance. Place hips and shoulders squarely in front. Keep your shoulders low and tall, pointing the top of your head skyward.
- Catch the right foot in the right hand and bring the right heel towards the buttock on a nice exhalation.
- During the exhalation, engage the pelvis in retroversion (coccyx towards the ground), as if one wished to have a perfectly straight back, without any arch.
- Perform the same exercise with the left leg and left hand.
Number of repetitions Stay in the pose for 5-10 slow breaths per side.
Stretch n°3: the back and the spine
The lower back and spine.
Stretching the back and spine
The starting position Sitting or standing, your choice. The legs are placed in parallel, at the width of the pelvis.
- Inhale slowly through your nose and bring your arms forward, crossing your fingers together.
- Exhale through the mouth and engage the perineum and the transverse (lower abdomen and navel towards the column) then wrap the back and release the weight of the head forward. Feel the stretch in the back and between the shoulder blades. Keep the shoulders pointed down the back (no shoulders in the ears).
- Inhale slowly and return to the axis.
Number of repetitions 5 to 10, accompanied by slow breaths.
Stretch n°4: the chest and the spine, on the side
The chest, especially the obliques and intercostal muscles. It also relaxes the lower back and softens the spine.
Stretching the spine and chest to the side
The starting position Sitting or standing. Keep your back straight, growing as tall as possible and keep your shoulders aligned with your hips. The bust should neither go forward nor backward. Maintain self-growth throughout the exercise. The head must remain in line with the back without going forward.
- While inhaling through the nose, stretch the right arm towards the sky and lean the bust to the left side. Send the hand diagonally as far as possible while keeping the shoulder down.
- On the exhale through the mouth, return to the starting position.
- Do the same with the left arm.
Number of repetitions 5 to 10 times on each side.
Stretch n°5: chest and spine, front version
The front of the body, especially the chest and neck muscles. This stretch also relaxes the spine.
The chest and spine stretch, front version
The starting position Sitting or standing. Place the legs parallel, at the width of the pelvis. Grow taller, releasing the shoulders down the back. Stretch the neck upwards, like that of a giraffe. Keep the self-extension throughout the exercise and the head in line with the back, without breaking the neck.
- Inhale slowly through your nose.
- Send the face, neck and heart to the sky, as if the front of the body wanted to illuminate the room.
- Keep the length in the spine then exhale slowly and come back on the axis.
Number of repetitions 5 to 10, accompanying the movement with slow breaths.
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