In a recent video on her YouTube channel, six-time CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey demonstrates one of the stretching routines that she performs every day before she begins her intense training in order to minimize risk of injury, starting with the kneeling lunge.
“Your knee is going to be coming over your toes, you’re going to feel a bit of a stretch through your groin, but we’re really focusing on keeping that heel down to the ground,” she explains. “If you want a little more intensity, you can also bring your torso down onto your quad and push your knee further closer to the ground.” She reiterates how important it is to keep your heel locked on the ground throughout, otherwise you won’t be getting the stretch in the ankle.
Do this on both sides for a minimum of 30 seconds. If you’ve got one side that’s tighter, it’s OK to spend more time on that side, but Toomey advises staying balanced in your stretching, as favoring one side can lead to risk of injury. She suggests trying to hold this for a minimum of 30 seconds, or up to 2 minutes, depending on what’s comfortable.
From that same position, bring your knee up so it’s directly over the ankle, and move your rear knee further back a little. On the side where your leg is fully extended behind you, drop your hip forward. This can help tight hip flexors and hamstrings. “The longer you hold the pose, you can actually push that knee out a little bit,” says Toomey, adding that you don’t want to force it. She recommends holding this one for about 2 minutes.
Next, Toomey addresses her chest and shoulders, laying down on her front and stretching one arm to the side, then turning her body backwards in the same direction. “As you’re feeling this sensation through your chest, you want to not overdo it, but you can manipulate how intense you want to be by really twisting over or actually just laying there and putting some stretch into that chest and pec area,” she says. “Opening that chest area up is so important, particularly for those who have more of a desk job.”
Finally, Toomey stretches her lats with a move called the puppy dog. Still kneeling, she places her hands out on the mat in front of her and brings her chest down as low to the mat as possible. “When you have really tight lats, that can lead to a lot of upper back and trap problems,” she says. “Making sure you’re nice and loose in the upper body is super important.”
This article was first published on Men’s Health US.