The Forward Fold Stretch

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,743
    Fitness expert Margie Weiss demonstrates the forward fold stretch.

    Margie Weiss

    Margie Weiss has been in the fitness industry all of her life, having been a national gymnast as a child, and mother/trainer to three international athletes. Owner-coach of MG Gymnastics, her team produced international stars for 15 years. Former owner of 2 Gold's Gym franchises, Margie is also a certified personal trainer, specializing in youth sports conditioning. She has trained international athletes, including her children. Her son, Michael, is a 2-time US Olympic figure skater and 3-time US National Champion. Currently, she is GGX (Group exercise director & instructor) for 3 Gold's Gyms, where one of her programs boasts 500 classes per month; she supervises 175 instructors. Having published many articles in the fitness field, she enjoys seeing progress in each of her participants. But the things that makes her most proud of the lives she has affected are her 5 grandchildren, all of whom live very close. Seeing their smiles makes every day worth smiling about!

    Margie Weiss: My name is Margie Weiss and this is general stretching. What were going to be doing now, is called the forward fold. Its a very basic exercise, and its one that stretches the lower back, the hips and the hamstrings, an area where most adults are very inflexible. Inflexibility in this area can cause lower back injuries. So, its really important that we keep this area lose and the way we are going to do that, is to sit up nice and tall, shoulders are low and bellies in the backbone. We can do this in two different positions. We can have our feet hooked, which is a little harder if you are a better flexible person, youre going to do that. If youre not super flexible, youre going point your toes, makes it a little bit easier. As you breathe in, you are going to exhale, as you forward fold and you want to feel as if youre folding like a book, not with the head down and the back rounded, because that stretches the mid back and we want to stretch from the waistband down.

    So, if you have spotter, a person who can assist you, a partner to work with, you can gently press right near the waist forward so that the chin is going out towards the toe. Notice, when we have the feet hooked, we can only go a certain distance, but as she points her toes, watch where the fold goes. You can go much farther, so you can do either or both of those exercises.

    On here, we want to make sure that the back is flat, notice when I push down here and flatten her; she is going to feel it a little more. Two places that you might feel this, one would be in the hamstring itself, which is kind of a dull pull, but if you feel a sting at the back of the knees, its generally the tendons, the back of the knees, which on some people or most people are tighter actually than the hamstrings themselves.

    So, youre going to feel that first, once that gets more flexible, then you may feel that dull pain here. If you hook the feet, youre also going to feel it in the back of the calf. So, with one particular exercise, just leaning forwards, youre going to feel a lot of different areas. Once you have done this 20-30 seconds, youll feel when the body tends to give. When it does, you know you have gotten a little bit more flexible, you are going to rise up slowly, one vertebrae at a time, and just going to shake your knees out a little bit to undo that.