By Karen Voight, Special to Tribune Newspapers
7:54 PM EDT, August 15, 2012
A great way to stretch your shoulders, chest and hamstrings is to hold a strap and take a wide leg stance. This will make it easier for you to go deeper into the pose while still protecting your joints and back.
1. Stand upright on a level surface. Grasp a long strap behind you, hands at shoulder distance. Step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart, toes pointing straight ahead. Ground your feet by pressing down with the four corners of each foot. Inhale, lift your chest and lengthen your spine.
2. On an exhalation, lead with your chest and fold forward from your hips, lengthening your spine. Let your arms move toward the floor behind your head. Turn your palms toward each other, keeping the strap taut. Think of moving your hands away from the center of your spine to lengthen your neck. As you stretch the backs of your legs, be sure to keep your leg muscles fully engaged by lifting your knee caps toward your thighs. Hold and breathe for 30 seconds.
To come out of this pose, bring your hands toward your hips, bend your knees slightly, press down into your feet and slowly lift your torso up.
Voight is the creator of a line of fitness DVDs, including "Full Body Stretch" and "Ballet BodySculpt."
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