Can you touch your toes? If not, practise this exercise daily and you will increase your flexibility in no time. Eva Redpath, a personal trainer and the founder of Body Conditioning by Dancers in Toronto, loves the forward bend. ‘It’s a great stretch for the back of the body, from head to toes, including the back, calves and hamstrings.’ She advises doing it at the end of an exercise class or after a total body workout, as stretching is safest when muscles are warm.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Hook a yoga strap or towel around the bottoms of your feet, and leave it there for now. Inhale and reach your arms up to the ceiling. Exhale and begin to bend forward gently by hinging at the hips, and bring your belly down to your thighs. Grasp the yoga strap or towel, keeping your back straight. ‘You want to lengthen the spine and keep your neck in line with your body,’ says Redpath. Take another breath and, as you exhale, see if you can bring your upper body even closer to your legs. Hold for between 30 seconds and three minutes. Go as far as you comfortably can, and build from there each time you do it. ‘Stretch until you feel mild tension, nothing strenuous or painful. Over time, as you practise this stretch, you’ll be able to go down farther.’