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In the basic version of the straddle stretch, you sit on the floor and open your legs out to either side of your body. In this version, you keep your back straight and tall, with your legs in full contact with the floor. The primary stretch you should feel is in your inner thighs. The straddle stretch can be varied to target different muscle groups.
Muscles Stretched in Basic Version
The basic straddle stretch and its variants all target the adductor muscles located in your inner thigh. If you succeed in keeping your legs straight and your back tall, you will also stretch the hamstrings, the group of three muscles located on the backs of the thighs.
Variant 1: Hamstrings
To increase the stretch on your hamstrings, place your hands on the floor in front of you. Walk your hands away from your body, keeping your back lengthened. Avoid letting your knees and feet roll toward the floor. Instead, keep them pointing up to the ceiling so that the stretch will still effectively target your adductors.
Variant 2: Obliques
You can vary the straddle stretch to intensify the stretch to the hamstrings, one leg at a time, and to target the obliques and the quadratus lumborum, muscles located on the side of your trunk. Sit in the basic straddle stretch and reach your right arm over your head. Bend toward the left, trying to touch your left foot with your right hand. Alternatively, you can twist your body to the left so that your belly button moves toward your left leg. This variant targets other muscle fibers of the obliques.
Tips and Tricks
Proper form is essential if you want to get the most out of your stretches. In the straddle stretch, keep your back lengthened and your knees and toes pointing upward. Allowing the back to become round reduces the stretch on the hamstrings and the adductors. Enter the stretch in a controlled manner and breathe evenly throughout the stretch. Hold the straddle stretch for between 20 and 30 seconds. As your adductor flexibility improves, you will be able to open your legs further to the side.