Been a while, huh? Being able to inspect your pedi up close requires flexibility in the muscles and tendons of the ankle, knee, hip, and back. “Getting even 30 percent closer significantly minimizes daily stress on these joints,” says Marty Jaramillo, founder and CEO of I.C.E. Sports Therapy in New York City and a FITNESS advisory board member. After your workout or a 10-minute warm-up — stretching while warm is the key to success — hold the following seven stretches for half a song (one and a half to two minutes) each, leaning farther into them every 10 to 15 seconds as you exhale. Stretch this way every day and within six to eight weeks, you should be nose-to-knees — or close enough!
1. Upper-calf stretch: Stand with your arms extended and palms against a wall. Take a large step back with your left foot, heel flat on the floor, and hold for two minutes. Switch sides and repeat for one to two minutes.
2. Lower-calf stretch: From the same start position, take only half a step back with your left foot, bending both knees slightly and keeping heels flat on the floor. Hold for one to two minutes. Switch sides and repeat.
3. Hamstring stretch: Lying faceup, raise your left leg straight up. Clasp your hands behind your left thigh and pull gently toward your chest; hold. Switch sides and repeat.
4. IT band and piriformis stretch: Lie faceup with your knees bent 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor. Cross your left ankle onto your right knee, left knee bent out to the side. Clasp your hands behind your right thigh and pull gently toward your chest; hold. Switch sides and repeat.
5. Hip-flexor stretch: Standing with feet together, bend your left knee and grab your left foot behind you with your left hand, pulling the heel toward your butt; hold. Switch sides and repeat.
6. Adductor stretch: Side lunge to the left with your left leg, both feet pointing forward, and hold. Switch sides and repeat.
7. Back stretch: Kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels. Extend your arms overhead and bend forward at the hips, resting your hands on a stability ball or bench in front of you. Hold.