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Today’s Workout column: Stretches can help with stress

Marlo Alleva
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Marlo Alleva demonstrates a hurdler stretch.

Many of you are counting down the days till Santa arrives, which is exciting, overwhelming and stressful.

Speaking of stress: our bodies hold tension and tightness from stress. But it’s nothing a few stretches can’t remedy quickly.

Our move today is a hurdler stretch. This stretching movement is great for the lower back, inner and outer thighs, and tight hip flexors. All you need is a flat surface.

Begin this exercise by sitting on the floor. Holding your chest tall and engaging your midsection, square up your rear end to the floor. Then, place one leg in front of your body, by bending a 90-degree angle in the knee as if you are planning to sit in a crisscross position. (The outside of that leg will be flat on the floor.)

Now, extend the other leg behind you, in the same positioning, but opposite. Basically, your back facing leg will be in a 90-degree bent angle, but the inner portion of the leg is pressing toward the floor. Depending on your level of flexibility, and tightness of hip flexors, this positioning will look different for many people.

Once you find a comfortable position, proceed to bend in the hips, leaning your upper body toward the floor over your front leg. You will feel this immediately in multiple areas. Continue to hold this placement for as long as you can. Then, release and switch leg arrangement and repeat the forward fold again.

This stretch can be performed every day, on its own, after any workout session, and especially when the lower back is feeling extra stress.

This hurdler stretch will soon become your “go-to” not only during the holidays, but well into your new year as well!

Marlo Alleva, an instructor at Gold’s Gym and group fitness coordinator at Fontaine-Gills YMCA in Lakeland, Florida, can be reached at faluvzpa@msn.com.