The Power Half-Hour (cont.)

The Home Stretch

Frequency: two to seven times weekly
Fitness Prerequisite: none
Duration: 30-45 minutes, depending on number of repetitions

You're a wreck, flexibility-wise, and the hasty stretches you tack onto the end of a workout are probably just making matters worse by creating microscopic tears in your muscles. So says Nikos Apostolopoulos, NBA stretching coach and director of Vancouver's Serapis Stretch Therapy Clinic. Apostolopoulos's answer is a thorough sequence of stretches (practiced daily, if possible) that take less time than a sitcom and will result in Gumby-like feats of limberness. "You'll increase your range of motion," he says, "which prevents injuries and makes you faster." His approach: Stretch slowly—one minute per move. Stretch gently—no more than a four on a scale of one (nothing) to ten (burning pain). Stretch thoroughly—complete two to four repetitions per side of each stretch, in order.

30 MINUTE WORKOUT
EXERCISE HOW TO REPS
SEATED CALF STRETCH AND STANDING CALF STRETCH For tight calf muscles, start with the seated stretch. Sit in a chair with your hips and shoulders square. Place the ball of your right foot on the edge of a thick book. With your heel resting lightly on the floor, gently stretch your calf. Hold for one minute, then switch sides. Work up to the standing stretch, but don't do both in the same session. Stand facing a wall with your right foot about 18 inches in front of your left. Put your hands out on the wall and lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your left calf. Hold for one minute, then switch sides. 2 to 4
GLUTE WALL STRETCH While lying on your back in front of a wall, head supported by a pillow, place your right foot flat on the wall and cross your left leg over your right knee. Your hips and pelvis should remain pressed to the floor, with your left ankle extended past your right knee. Stretch by slowly moving your left knee toward the wall. Hold for one minute, then switch sides. 2 to 4
HAMSTRING WALL STRETCH With your head supported by a pillow, lie on your back in front of a doorway with your hips and shoulders square to the opening. Lift your right leg straight up and rest it against the wall adjacent to a doorjamb; keep your left leg on the floor, passing through the doorway. Your right knee should be slightly bent so that you feel the stretch in your hamstring, not behind the knee. Hold for one minute, then switch legs. 2 to 4
SEATED GROIN STRETCH Sit on the floor and pull your legs in so the soles of your feet touch. Grasp your ankles and use your arms to press your knees toward the floor until you feel a mild stretch in your groin and inner thighs. Hold for one minute. 2 to 4
HIP-FLEXOR STRETCH Kneel with your left knee on the floor and your right foot flat on the floor, knee directly above the ankle. Place both hands on your right thigh, then slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hips. Hold for one minute, then switch sides. 2 to 4
LATERAL QUADRICEPS STRETCH Lie on your back with your head on a pillow. While keeping your pelvis flat on the floor, pull your right knee toward your left side with your left hand until you feel a stretch. Hold for one minute and switch sides. 2 to 4
GLUTE AND LOWER-BACK STRETCH Lie on your right side in a modified fetal position with your thighs perpendicular to your torso. Place your left hand on your right knee and let your left shoulder gently roll back toward the floor. Hold for one minute, then switch sides. 2 to 4
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