The One Stretch You Shouldn't Skip
Each time you take a step or pull your legs toward your upper body, as you do when cycling, you rely on your hip flexors, hamstrings, and quadriceps, the muscles in the front of your hips and thighs. If they're overworked, they can get tight, making your hips feel stiff, limiting your range of motion (your stride gets shorter), and even causing you to overarch your back, says Norma Shechtman, group-fitness instructor at the Sports Club/LA in Orange County, California. The kneeling lunge loosens these key muscles. Add it to your routine and you'll be saying ah instead of ouch after your workout!
For best results:
> Do this move after your regular workout or whenever your hips and legs feel tight.
> Challenge yourself (and sculpt your legs) by doing the stretch with the ball of your back foot on the ground and your rear knee lifted.
How to do it:
> Kneel on right knee, with toes down, and place left foot flat on the floor in front of you, knee bent and aligned with ankle. Place hands on left thigh [pictured].
> Press hips forward until you feel tension in the front of your right thigh. Extend arms overhead, with elbows close to head and palms facing each other, and slightly arch your back while keeping your chin parallel to the ground.
> Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
To maintain proper alignment, keep both hips squared to the front as you press them forward.
Mistakes to avoid
>DON'T twist your torso or raise or lower the hip you're stretching, which would reduce the move's effectiveness.
>DON'T drop your head back. It could compress your cervical nerves, causing neck pain.
>DON'T overarch your back. Doing so could stress your spine.