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.
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.