Thursday, June 29, 2006

Stretch and Strengthen Those Thighs!

I like to end my workouts with 5 to 8 minutes of relaxed stretching. One movement I enjoy not only stretches (the hip region, inner thighs, and quadriceps)— it strengthens those areas as well. I learned the movement years ago while practicing Tai Chi with an early morning group in the park. It is a stretch practiced in most martial arts and for good reason.

Give it a try. If you like it, integrate it where it works best for you. I just happen to like it as part of my stretching.

To begin, stand with your feet spread wider than shoulder width. Smoothly, drop down to one side as shown here.

Now, move your upper body -- without moving your feet -- across your center . . .

and over to your opposite side. Now, move back-and- forth, smoothly, without coming up.

As you grow more flexible, build up your reps.

If you have difficulty balancing or you are at first too tight to shift side-to-side, that is normal. Be patient. For balance, hold on to a pole or any sturdy support and slowly lower yourself to one side. Hold for a bit. Then come up. Do the same thing on the other side.

It may seem very awkward at first, but if you do it a few times at each workout, before long you will be sliding side-to-side with ease.

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