There’s nothing like warm weather to inspire some outdoor activity, whether it’s dusting off the running shoes, kicking around a soccer ball or swimming laps. But many of us forget one vital component: stretching. ‘It’s especially important when people have been less active in the colder months,’ says Louise Chan, owner of Pura Vida Rehabilitation and Therapy, and an athletic therapist at Athlete’s Care in Toronto, who works with the Canadian Beach Volleyball team. ‘When you’re playing sports, you really need to stretch dynamically‘meaning that you move with the stretch,’ says Chan.
Stretching will also help keep you playing all summer long. ‘It improves the pliability of soft tissue, promotes flexibility, prevents injury, and increases your range of motion and circulation,’ says Chan. The adductors’the muscles that run along the inner thigh’get particularly tight with exercise.
This side lunge stretches the adductors, and works the abductors (outer thighs) and glutes. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, feet facing forward. Lunge to the right, bending knee to a 90-degree angle. Sink (don’t bounce) into the right side and straighten the left leg’but be careful that the right knee does not move farther forward than the toes. Place hands on the right thigh, keeping back straight, and hold for a few seconds. Straighten up and press off the right foot back to standing position. Repeat on the other side, then move side to side with the lunges five to 10 times, pausing for a few seconds each time. Do this stretch before and after your workout.