Wall squat

Squats are great for improve balance and flexibility. Doing this stretch against a wall will help ensure proper form

Wall squat

Source: Best Health Magazine, May 2011; Illustration by Kagan McLeod

You probably know the squat is great for toning the lower body, but it can also improve balance and flexibility, says Garfield Wilson, a Vancouver-based trainer and the fitness expert on CBC’s Village on a Diet and its Live Right Now initiative. While not exactly a ‘stretch,’ says Wilson, this squat does lengthen glutes and also improves the hips’ range of motion. Proper form is important: You’re supposed to keep your core engaged and spine neutral, and your knees shouldn’t go past your toes. Wilson suggests doing the squat facing a wall. ‘That forces you to do it right or else you end up banging your knees into the wall,’ he says.

Technique

Stand with your toes nearly touching the baseboard of the wall, your feet slightly wider than your hips, and arms out to your sides. Move your bum downward, as if you are about to sit on a chair. Keep your weight on your heels, not your toes. As soon as the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor, come back up to the standing position. ‘Don’t hold there,’ says Wilson; stand back up again. If balance is an issue, he suggests trying it with a chair behind you’just in case. Do this three times (10 to 15 reps each time) at lunchtime or the end of the day.

This article was originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!

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