Partner stretching is not only fun, it can also be more effective than solo stretching to increase flexibility. Having someone hold you in a certain position allows your body to relax completely so you can get deeper into a stretch and target hard to reach areas. Most of us don’t stretch enough, so having a partner can be motivating. It’s also a creative way to connect with your significant other or friend since the stretches require constant communication and trust in your partner. All the stretches can go from gentle to intense depending on how much body weight the stretcher uses. As the stretcher, proper form is crucial in preventing injury. Protect yourself by engaging your core to transfer your weight and create leverage. Most of the directions below will be for the stretcher. As the person being stretched, you need to relax your body and communicate what you are feeling. Grab your significant other, a friend, or a family member, and give your bodies some TLC with these 5 partner stretches.
1. Single Leg Hamstring Stretch– One person lies on the ground and the stretcher kneels beside in a proposal position with the outside knee up. Stretcher: Lift your partner’s leg and bend their knee into their chest. Gently press onto the belly of the hamstring with the palm of your outside hand as you hold their heel up with your other hand. Use your core as you bring your body weight slightly forward to give them a deeper stretch in their leg. Keep your weight forward as you press into their hamstring and start to gently straighten their leg by pressing their heel forward. Their leg may not completely straighten depending on how flexible their hamstring is. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, release the heel back, and then repeat 3 more times before switching sides and places.
2. Split Stretch– Both people sit on the ground in a straddle position. Stretcher: Place your feet on the inside of your partner’s ankles to hold them open. Depending on how flexible their inner thighs are, you may or may not be able to straighten your legs. Sit up tall as you grab each other’s forearms. Slowly lean back, pulling the other person’s torso forward and pressing their legs back with your heels until they feel the stretch in their inner thighs. Be sure to keep your core tight and lats pulled into your back as you pull. Repeat up to 5 times before switching turns.
3. Twist and Pull Stretch-This stretch will be felt along the entire side body and hip area of the person being stretched. The stretcher stands up while the other person lies on the ground. Stretcher: Take one leg of your partner and cross their knee over their body so they are in a spinal twist position. Stand over your partner with one leg on either side of their hips. The leg that’s on the side with their knee crossed over will hold their knee in place. Squat down with your back straight and abs in. Reach for their arm that’s on the same side as the knee. Hold onto their forearm with both hands as they relax completely. They can grasp your wrist with their one arm for security. Stand up from your squat position by straightening the legs with a straight back. This will lift your partner’s torso off the floor, stretching the side that you are holding. Slowly lower their torso back down by squatting with your legs. Do 3-5 times before switching sides.
4. Heart Opener Stretch-The person being stretched sits on the floor cross-legged. Stretcher: Sit down behind your partner and hold onto their wrists. Gently bring their arms behind their body, stretching out the front of their shoulders. Place your feet on either side of their spine starting at their lower back. Slowly start to straighten your legs as you lean back, pulling their arms. The more you lean back with your legs straight, the deeper the stretch for them. Bend your knees and sit upright to release the tension and walk your feet up to their mid back. Repeat the stretch here and the release. Move your feet up to their upper back with your heels just below their shoulder blades for one more stretch to open up their front body. Release and switch positions.
5. Double Leg Hamstring Stretch– The stretcher will stand up at the feet of their partner who is lying down on their back. Stretcher: Lift your partner’s legs up by the heels. Walk your feet closer to their butt as their legs go straight up into the air. Bend their knees into their chest as you gently place your knees on the base of their hamstrings. You will have to bend your knees and transfer your weight forward to do this. Talk to your partner to make sure they are comfortable with where your knees are. They should be right above their sits bones. Once in position start to straighten their legs by gently pushing their heels forward until they feel the stretch. You will be placing more of your weight onto your knees as you do this to help anchor their hips down. It’s okay if their tailbone lifts slightly off the ground. Their legs may not straighten all the way depending on how flexible they are. Repeat this 3-5 times, releasing the heels and transferring your weight back between each stretch.
Be sensitive to whoever your partner is and how flexibility they are. Always start with the least resistance and build the intensity gradually. With practice, you will each increase your range of motion and flexibility.
Which partner stretch did you enjoy most?
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Video: Crystal Chin; music: “Plastic 100°C” by Sampha