From Your Knickers to Your Kickers Stretches for your Bottom Half

In This Chapter

^ Getting familiar with the muscles of your lower body ^ Loosening up your hips and buttocks ^ Stretching your thighs ^ Performing lower leg stretches ^ Taking care of your feet and ankles

The muscles of your lower body — your hips, buttocks, thighs, calves, ankles, and feet — all work together like the many different instruments in an orchestra. When they're all doing their part, they make beautiful music together, but when one of them is out of tune, the entire performance suffers.

Tightness in the lower body can be the hidden culprit in a wide variety of ailments that, at first glance, you may not blame them for. Poor posture, disorders of the back such as lordosis (swayback) or scoliosis (lateral curvature of the spine), indigestion, headaches, and even difficulty breathing can all be caused to one degree or another by imbalances in the lower body due to muscle tension and tightness.

For yet another example, a runner with tight hamstrings can have a shortened stride due to the tightness. A shortened stride means more steps, which means expending more energy, which means energy wasted. It also means more impact, which can lead to more injuries. But stretching can stop this cycle of doom, once and for all.

In this chapter, I break down the muscles of the lower body into sections: hips and buttocks, hamstrings, quadriceps, groin and inner thigh, lower leg, and feet and ankles. Each section gives you a variety of stretches for that particular area. Experiment with each stretch to see which stretches suit your body best.

Throughout the following stretches for your hips, buttocks, and thighs, be aware of the position of your pelvis (see Figure 7-1). All these muscles are attached to your pelvis in one way or another, and if your pelvis isn't correctly positioned, you can diminish the effectiveness of these stretches. To improve your body awareness in this area, try doing the pelvic tilts I describe in Chapter 8.

Figure 7-1:

The muscles of your lower half.

Figure 7-1:

The muscles of your lower half.

Adductor longus Adductor magus

¡^Vastus lateralis Semitendinosus ^ Rectus femoris Biceps

Vastus medialis Semimembranosus

Tibialis anterior

Adductor longus Adductor magus

¡^Vastus lateralis Semitendinosus ^ Rectus femoris Biceps

Vastus medialis Semimembranosus

Tibialis anterior

Gluteus minimus

Plantar arch

Gastrocnemius

Soleus—"IV Achilles

Plantar arch

Gluteus minimus

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