The final week of February brings us to the Side Lunge stretch. Please warm up with all the previous weeks stretches for February before performing this one.
You will need some clear wall space and a yoga block, or something similar that is sturdy and can bear a little bit of your weight.
If you have a history of hip, knee, or ankle problems, or any difficulty squatting, this may not be the right exercise for you. As with any exercise program, it is recommended to contact your physician, physical or occupational therapist to review what is most appropriate for you.
- Within your clear wall space, stand with your back against the wall. Spread your feet very wide apart, approximately a full leg length. Point the right foot outward (towards the right). Bend the right knee until it’s in line with the right ankle. The left leg remains straight.
Performing the Side Lunge stretch:
- Using the wall for support, begin to squat down reaching the hands to the floor for support. The right knee remains bent and the left leg stays straight throughout. Raise the left toes towards the ceiling, keeping the heel on the floor. Make sure the right knee does not go over the right toes. You should be able to still see your right toes. If you cannot, return to the starting position and take your feet wider apart. Attempt to keep the right heel on the floor as shown in the top photo marked YES. See photo marked MODIFIED for the stretch modification if the heel is popping up.
- Modification: If you cannot squat as deeply as the YES photo, perform the MODIFIED version. Simply take a yoga block on whatever height you like and place your hands to it. This may reduce knee and ankle pressure. Please take note of the feet as well. The right heel is slightly elevated from the floor, but the knee is still in line with the ankle.
- While maintaining your stretch position, keep the abdominal muscles engaged by drawing the belly button towards the spine. Keep the left leg active by pressing through the heel and keep the toes pointed towards the ceiling. Ensure to straighten the spine and lift the chest up by looking forward. Use the wall for support by leaning back into it slightly.
You do not want to look like the NO photo: hunched forward looking down, left leg bent, left foot flat on the floor, and your back coming away from the wall. This can increase the pressure on the knees.
- Stay here for 30 or more seconds. When done, slowly stand back up and bring the feet to parallel. Now turn the left foot outward (towards the left) and repeat on the other side.
I hope you enjoyed all of the February stretches!