If lockdown has seen your activity levels plummet and the only exercise that you are doing a lot of at home right now is ‘sofa surfing’ and watching YouTube, then it’s time to start incorporating some basic stretching and conditioning exercises back into your daily routine. Our Beauty Team spoke to celebrity personal trainer Lisa Bradburn for mat exercises that will keep you flexible during the lockdown and beyond.
This exercise is all about opening out the hip flexors. It is ideal a stretch exercise at home post daily run and/or after resistance training, but it’s suitable for anyone with tight quads and glutes. It’s particularly useful for stretching your psoas muscles, which are the deep core muscles that are part of your hip flexures. You might find that you have tight or shortened psoas muscles if you have been spending a lot of time in a seated position.
Start by kneeling on the floor on one leg with your knees at right angles. Keep your back straight and your tailbone tucked under as you squeeze your glutes and shift your hips forward until you feel the stretch. Hold this for around 20 -30 seconds and then switch legs. Depending on how flexible your hips are, you can try dropping your weight down onto the mat as shown in the image, but only do this if there is no tightness in the hips.
This is a fantastic conditioning exercise you can try at home and targets the abdominals, lower back, gluteal muscles and thigh muscles. It helps build lower back strength and core stability.
Kneel with knees hip-width apart and your hands firmly placed on the ground around shoulder-width apart. Engage your abdominal muscles.
At first just left your lower leg up to lengthen and hold for a few seconds, before bringing it back down and repeating with the other leg. To make this exercise a little more complicated, practice lifting one hand and the opposite knee just an inch or two off the floor while balancing on the other hand and knee and keeping your weight centred. Once you are feeling steady and ready to move on to a full range of motion, point your arm out straight in front and extend the opposite leg behind you. Imagine that you are creating a straight line from your hand to your foot, keeping hips squared to the ground. If your lower back begins to sag, raise your leg only as high as you can while keeping your back straight. Hold this for few seconds then return your hands and knees to the starting position.
Remember to keep your abs engaged throughout the entire exercise and focus on keeping your hips still during the change of leg and arm coordination. Opt for five reps on each side. If you want to add something more to the exercise, rotate the extended foot in a small circular motion to fire up the glutes further.
This exercise is more of a strengthening move, but it does have a functional element of stretch too. In this exercise, you want to think about pulling your hips up and tightening the waist muscles and obliques.
Lay on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Engage your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position without letting your hips drop for a count of a few seconds each them, then repeat on the other side. I would suggest starting with five reps each side and slowly building up.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
This is a fabulous stretching exercise you can do at home and good for releasing tightness in hips, butt and quads. This exercise is brilliant for stretching the hip flexors, which can help alleviate lower back pain and improve your posture.
Start by kneeling on right knee, with toes down, and place your left foot flat on the floor in front of you with your knee bent and aligned with ankle. Place hands on your hips or the left thigh. Press hips forward until you feel the tension in the front of your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and then swap sides. The image shows a progression of this exercise whereby you hover your knee above the mat, engaging your core for stability.
*All you need to try any of these exercises at home is a big enough area to stretch and move, a mat and some motivation! As with any form of physical exercise, if you feel faint or unwell at any time, stop immediately. If you have an underlying medical or physical condition, check with your doctor before attempting any exercises. These exercises do not substitute for having a personal training session with a professional.