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Lying quad stretch – Get toned & flexible legs in bed.

quadriceps stretch illustration

Mel is stretching her quads in bed.

There are many reasons why you should stretch your quadriceps, the large muscles on the front of you legs. Pain in the knees, bad back, or poor posture from having spent a lot of time sitting down are just a few reasons. It’s very common to have tight quadriceps and it takes a bit of time to get them loosened up. There are several ways to stretch your quads and the lying side quad stretch is on of the easiest and most effective versions. This stretch works just as well in the bed as in the sofa in front of the TV.

HOW:
Lay on your left side and place your right hand on your right ankle while flexing your left leg slightly. Tense your butt and pull your right ankle up towards your butt and at the same time gently extend your leg. Don’t pull your heel all the way up to your butt because this puts too much force on you knee instead of stretching your muscles. Hold the position for the desired amount of time and then switch to the other side. Stop if you experience pain in your knee.

An alternative is to use a towel for help. Lay face down on the bed with one leg standing on the floor. Wrap the towel around your ankle and pull above your head. This version reduces the strain on your knees and is to be preferred. If you can reach you can use your hand to pull instead of a towel.

You can also do the good old standing up quad stretch but it’s not as effective as the ones where you lay down. If you do a standing quad stretch, lean forward to get a good angle on the stretched leg and avoid injuring your knees. Use the opposite hand to hold the foot to deepen the stretch.

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illustration of woman stretching on a chair

Seated side stretch – easy and effective office stretch

illustration of woman stretching on a chair
Nel is doing a seated side stretch to loosen some tension she has built up after having been stuck in an office chair all day.

The purpose of the side stretch is to target the muscles between the ribs and the hip, which can get tensed after having spent a lot of time sitting down, or slept on a too soft madras. Another reason can be that one of your legs are slightly shorter than the other. This is an easy stretch exercise you can do both standing up and sitting down.

HOW:
Sit straight and tense your abs slightly. Raise your right arm above your head and slowly lean to the left until you feel tension on your side. It’s ok to bend your arm to get deeper into the stretch. Don’t lift your butt from the chair or lean forward or backward. Hold the position for the desired amount of time and then switch to the other side.

Variation:
You can also do this the side stretch while standing up. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and raise your right arm above your left and slowly lean into the stretch. Hold the position for the desired amount of time and then switch to the other side.

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illustration of woman running up stairs

Running stairs – a cardio workout which shapes your butt

illustration of woman running up stairs
Exercises: Legs, butt & cardio

Walking stairs instead of taking the elevator is step one to achieving an active lifestyle. When you feel comfortable walking up stairs it’s time to kick it up a notch and start sprinting up stairs.

The awesome thing about running stairs is that it’s a very effective cardiovascular workout and you can quickly raise your pulse. If you put your mind to it you will have your heart racing in just a few floors. This is also the kind f exercise which really burns calories and if your goal is a well toned butt then this is the exercise for you.

How:
If the stairs are of normal size you should step on every stair. Lift your knees up high and keep a high pitched pace. The main thing about running stairs is that you run on your toes and not your heels. Make sure you push off with all muscles in your lower body; calves, thighs and butt. Don’t just let your knees do the work. Also get your arms involved and swing them back and forth when running, don’t shrug. Focus on keeping a high pace, this will get your heart pumping and you’ll improve your conditioning level.

Once you have mastered running on every stair you can try to only step on every other stair.

Something to keep in mind is that running stairs puts a lot of stress on your knees and lower body, so stop if you exercise pain.

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