How many of you love the ‘Feet in Straps’ series on the Reformer? We are pretty sure a lot of you raised your hand and said, "I do!". We heard more than one person say “I wish I had a reformer at home so I can do leg circles every day!” The good news is you do not need to have a Reformer at home to effectively stretch the hamstrings and mobilize the hips.
This is one of my favorite routines that I do at home almost daily. Three times a week is plenty. I like to use a kitchen towel to assist with the stretch.
1. Begin lying on your back with the towel around the sole of the foot, the knee bent to a 90-degree angle and the leg is parallel. Stretch the knee towards the ceiling, then to increase the stretch and include the mobilizations of the foot and ankle, flex the foot by reaching the heel up towards the ceiling while pulling the toes back and down towards your shin. Point the foot by reaching the toes up towards the ceiling and bend the knee to return to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 times.
2. Hold the leg towards the ceiling with the knee as extended as possible and rotate the leg out (external rotation) followed by rotation in (internal rotation). This is a great exercise to mobilize the hip joint. Repeat 5-10 times.
3. With the leg in external rotation repeat part one. Stretch the leg towards the ceiling, flex and point the foot, bend the knee to return to the starting position. Notice the different sensation and stretch while maintaining external rotation. Repeat 5-10 times.
4. Hold the towel in the opposite hand than the leg. Gently pull leg across the midline, respective side hip may come off the mat. Hold the stretch for 3-5 breaths, repeat 3-5 times.
5. Hold the towel with the same hand as the leg, place the towel behind the thigh and bend the knee. Encourage the lower leg, from the knee down to relax completely. Guide your leg in a circular pattern with your arm creating most of the action, keeping the leg as passive as possible. I like to start the circle by opening the knee and thigh to the side, pulling it up towards the shoulder, in front of the chest, and then lower. Repeat the circle 5-10 times.
6. Repeat the entire sequence on the second leg.