STRETCH YOUR HEART OUT

We know stretch­ing can prime your mus­cles for ex­er­cise, pre­vent in­jury and aid in re­cov­ery. Ac­cord­ing to new re­search, it can also im­prove your car­dio­vas­cu­lar health.

Best Health - - FITNESS NEWS - Photograph­y by WHIT­NEY DIKOUME

AC­CORD­ING TO A pa­per re­cently pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Phys­i­ol­ogy, we can now add reg­u­lar leg stretch­ing to the list of preven­tive mea­sures for heart dis­ease and di­a­betes.

The study fol­lowed a group of men and women who, af­ter pas­sively stretch­ing their legs for 12 weeks, ex­hib­ited increased blood flow in their lower legs and up­per arms, and re­duced ar­te­rial stiff­ness. (A pas­sive stretch uses an ex­ter­nal force like grav­ity, a wall or a chair). That boon to heart health makes good sense to Whit­ney Dikoume, a Cal­gary-based strength coach and cer­ti­fied ath­letic ther­a­pist. She of­fers up three sets of com­ple­men­tary ex­er­cises and stretches that will in­crease your strength and flex­i­bil­ity and also tar­get the mus­cles sur­round­ing ma­jor artery groups.

GLUTES + QUADS

Ac­ti­vate your glutes to help stretch and elon­gate the ma­jor mus­cles (quads and hip flex­ors) sur­round­ing the femoral artery, which sup­plies blood to your lower body. 1 / Glute bridges. Lie down on your back, arms at your sides. Squeeze your glute and ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles, then lift your hips off the ground un­til knees, hips and shoul­ders are in a straight line. Hold for a few sec­onds and re­turn to the start­ing po­si­tion. Re­peat. 2 / Quad kneel­ing stretches. Start in a high lunge po­si­tion, with your left foot for­ward. Drop your right knee to the floor and find your bal­ance. Reach your arms up, tuck­ing your pelvis un­derneath (like you’re try­ing to flat­ten your back) and drive your hip for­ward. Hold for 45 sec­onds. Switch legs.

3 / CLAMSHELL

5 / ROW­ING WITH A BAND

1 / GLUTE BRIDGE

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