Hello mind-body students! Good to see you back at the blog again.
This week, we are introducing the assisted flamingo stretch to our workout for elders. You may remember the flamingo stretch from earlier blogs we've done. This assisted version of the technique has the same goals: to create hip extension and allow for better range of motion and greater stability.
But for students in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s, standing on one leg with no supports is not safe. So, we developed this stretch to provide a stable surface to lean against (the wall), as well as a place to rest the lifted leg so that the arms can be used to stabilize you further.
Keeping the leg straight might be easier for you, or bending it might be easier. It depends on which of your muscles have better mobility. Ideally, you will be able to work your way up to the full stretch shown in the third picture below (far right). Knee bent, foot resting flat on the support, and lower leg straight up and down under the knee, not leaning to either the right or left.
When getting into this stretch, make sure that you are stable against the wall first. Then, gently lift your leg up to a comfortable position and rest it on the support. It is very helpful to have someone aiding you with this exercise at first. That way, they can adjust the support you are using until it is in exactly the right spot (80% effort to lift the leg that high, and NO pain! If it is painful, lower your leg until it doesn't hurt!).
This stretch should be done twice a day, for 2 minutes on each leg. As always, you can work up to this gradually. You can also work up to the height shown in the pictures below. If your hamstrings are very tight, you might have to do the first posture (far left below) at a lower height. If your quads are tight, you'll have to start the second posture (the middle and right pictures) at a lower height.
Be gentle! Move a little more every day and you'll reach your goals in no time.
Don't forget that I have a new course up on Udemy.com! It is called "Strengthen Your Immune System with Tai Chi and Qi Gong." It is a shorter course that is great for kids, college students, the elderly, and everyone in between! It's only $20, so check it out today!