Mobility work and strength training go hand in hand, so we are sharing a few of our favorite stretches. Like so many things, it's not what you do, but how you do it that makes the difference. So for each stretch we will share how to maximize its benefits by adding some "Summer Sparkle" - don't worry, you can do this year round!
1. The Brettzel Stretch is a great mobility move for thoracic rotation, and if you can hold onto your bottom foot with your top hand you can get some bonus hip flexor and quad stretching too!
Coach Kati Demos this move starting side lying on the left. Cross your right leg over and bend the right knee. The knee should be in line with the hip, and we like to use a yoga block under the knee to keep it at about the same height as the hip. Hold the right knee down with the left hand, and hook the instep of the left foot with your right hand (if this is not possible, you could use a yoga strap or just leave the left leg straight). Keep your hips stacked on top of each other as you rotate the thoracic spine to bring the right shoulder closer to the ground.
ADD SOME SUMMER SPARKLE - To make this stretch even more exciting, we could actively press the right knee and left hand into each other to add some co-contraction. You can create more space to rotate by depressing the pelvis on the right side. You can also use the breath to your advantage by imaging inhaling into the back of the left ribcage, and exhaling into the back of the right ribcage as you rotate.
2. The Hip Hinge is a fantastic move to prepare you for deadlifts and kettlebell swings, but on its own it has many benefits. With attention to detail, you can learn to move from the hips while keeping the core braced and the spine in neutral.
ADD SOME SUMMER SPARKLE - Grab a dowel, PVC or ProBar like Coach Chana, and hold it behind you. Make three points of contact with the dowel to ensure a neutral spine: the back of your head, in between your shoulder blades, and your sacrum. Brace your core, and as you hinge your hips back, image pressing your back into the bar to really turn on the core muscles behind you. If you lose any of the three points of contact, you have immediate feedback that you changed something in your spine angle - not ideal when you are lifting weights for optimal back safety! Keep practicing until you can really maintain all three points throughout the hinge.
3. 90/90 Hip Stretch is a feel good favorite. As Coach RT demos, find a 90/90 shape with your legs, sit up tall and create as much joint stacking of head, shoulders and hips as you can. Move from the hips to draw your chest toward your front shin, and enjoy the outer hip stretch of the front hip!
ADD SOME SUMMER SPARKLE - Create some muscle co-contraction by using the hip flexor and inner thigh on the front leg to pull you down as you inhale, and imagine pushing the front knee down through the floor using the outer hip muscles as you exhale and return to your start position.
4. “Backscratchers”, or “Cow Face Arms” as they’re known in the yoga world are fantastic for shoulder mobility. Coach Caleb demonstrates first a dynamic version rotating from side to side. The top shoulder externally rotates and flexes overhead, while the bottom shoulder internally rotates and extends behind you, as both elbows bend and the hands draw as close together as possible.
ADD SOME SUMMER SPARKLE - Do one arm at a time while using some muscle co-contraction. Do the top side by using your opposite hand to pull your elbow across your body, and behind your body, while you simultaneously resist the opposite direction you are being pulled. For the bottom arm, slice the forearm across your back while resisting the opposite direction, and think of pushing your forearm into your back and your back into your forearm.
To see videos of all of these moves, head over to our Instagram @breakthroughgym and check them out!
Strength and Sparkle from your Breakthrough Team!