Movement Mondays! Long & Strong Baby

Welcome to Movement Mondays, your weekly tip and tutorial to bring more movement, alignment and self-care into your everyday life. You can also find your weekly dose of movement love on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Just click on the links below!

If you have been a long-time reader of Movement Mondays, you will know by now that the more you move throughout the day, the happier your body will be. And if you practice yoga, you will be familiar with all that stretching going on. A lot of stretching regimes focus on passive stretches, which have their place, but if you are looking for muscles that have strength AND length, then active stretches are what the doctor ordered.

Tight hip flexors and quads are pretty common these days. Aaaaand surprise! All that sitting we do as a culture plays a big role in that tension. This week we are going to play around with a lovely little movement that yields bit results for those tight hips and quads. 

At first glance, it looks how you would set up Camel pose in yoga. The set up is the same but that is all they have in common. The goal is not to do a backbend, it is to slowly load your quads to deliver quad-opening freedom. The beauty of this movement for your quads is that it involves an eccentric muscle contraction, or what I like to call "the sweet spot" ; that magical place where your muscles are busy being strong and long at the same time. If you want to get more flexible, strong and stable, these kind of movement are the way to go.

If you look at the photo, it looks like not a lot is going on, I'm just barely leaning back. Oh, but there is so much goodness going on in such a small little movement! Not only are you getting a wonderful stretch (but don't be deceived by the word stretch- you will likely feel your quads fatiguing before you get any sort of traditional "stretch" feeling) maintaining your ribs over your pelvis is brining your core along for a fantastic ride as well. 

If you love doing Camel, I recommend inviting your quads to work the same way we are doing here. Personally, I haven't taught Camel in years. I prefer to teach this stretch instead and save the backbending for postures that don't potentially cause so much strain on the lumber and cervical spine. 

How To:

  • Place your knees on something soft like a bolster or foam blocks for support. 
  • Feet and knees are hip width apart. 
  • Bring your lower ribs so that they are aligned over the front of your pelvis. No backbending here!
  • Once ribs are aligned, keep your upper body as is and start to lean SLOWLY back from your knee joints.
  • Only go as far as you can maintain the alignment of your ribs over pelvis and moving from your knees.
  • If your quads are really tight, you won't need to go to far to receive the benefits.
  • Stay, breathe and maintain your ribs over your pelvis.
  • Repeat one to three times.