Step 1. Start on hands and knees with your feet facing a Swiss ball or the wall. Lift your right leg, point the foot to the ceiling, and drop the knee about 4 inches from the ball or wall. The closer the knee is to the ball, the more difficult and intense the stretch will be.
Step 2. Rest your toes and top of the foot against the ball or wall. Then slowly bring your left leg up into a lunge, keeping the left foot flat on the floor. From here, kick the foot into the ball to contract (resist) the muscles on the front of the leg (quadriceps). As you kick into the ball or wall, use your left leg to push your body back to stretch the quads. Repeat 5 to 10 times; then switch sides.
Step 1. Stand or sit with hands clasped (and fingers interlaced) just above the forehead. Keep arms bent at 90 degrees and elbows open at chin level.
Step 2. Push your palms against each other and squeeze the elbows in, as if you were trying to pop a balloon between them. Keep shoulders down and neck straight. Return to start and repeat 5 to 10 times.
- Aim to do the stretches at least three times a week.
- It’s best to balance opposing muscle groups—for example, the quads on the top of the legs and the hamstrings on the back—to make sure you have complete range of motion. The hamstring stretches here are meant to be combined with the hip flexor lunge and the quad stretch.
- Extend the limb only as far as you comfortably can while resisting at the same time. But don’t fight yourself: You want continuous movement. Aim for a 4 or 5 out of 10 for the resistance level. Take six seconds to do the resistance movement.
- Don’t lock your joint. Stop once you feel you can’t resist anymore or if your muscle starts to shake, and return to the starting position.
Ki-Hara exercises provided courtesy of Innovative Body Solutions of Coral Springs, Fla.