Nothing stretches tight hips and lower back like a scorpion stretch

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: the scorpion stretch.

There are no two areas as commonly complained about the hips and lower back. Almost everyone has experienced tightness, pain and discomfort in the muscles and joints surrounding this area. When you think about our common activities, it’s no surprise: sitting down for long periods of time compresses the spine and ball and socket joints in our hips, and high impact activities like running and HIIT can put the muscles and joints in these areas under a lot of load. 

Stretching out the tightness is the best way to ease out the tightness and decompress the bones and joints. For that, the scorpion stretch is one of the best. 

What is a scorpion stretch?

A scorpion stretch begins with you lying on your stomach and extending your leg behind you to open into the hips and stretch through the spine. The name comes from the shape you make at the deepest part of the shape with your leg fully bent to your opposite side, like a scorpion’s tale.

The stretch is great because:

  • It stretches the hip flexors: These muscles are shortened through sitting, so it’s important to lengthen them out. 
  • It targets the lower back: Safely stretching the lower back helps counteract tension and tightness.
  • It can be used for a warm-up or cool down: Make it dynamic by repeatedly moving through the posture, or hold it for a few seconds for a deeper stretch. 
  • It can be adapted for most abilities: Going as deep as your flexibility allows will still give you a great stretch. 

What muscles does the scorpion stretch work?

A scorpion stretch will work into all the muscles that surround the hips and back, including:

  • Hip flexors (at the front of the hip)
  • Hip abductors (the outside of your glutes and hips)
  • Glute maximus (largest area of the glute)
  • Obliques (side of the trunk) 
  • Multifidus (running down the lower spine)
  • Erector spinae (muscles in the mid back)
  • Read delts (back of the shoulder)

HOW TO DO A scorpion stretch

  1.  Lie on your mat on your stomach. Extend your arms out wide at shoulder level. 
  2. Turn your head to look at your left fingers so your right ear is on the ground. 
  3. Lift your left leg off the floor and bend the knee. 
  4. Take the leg across the body towards your right fingers. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make it all the way, but try to pull away from your hips and twist your spine to enhance the stretch. 
  5. Take a deep breath at the end of the posture before you release back to the starting pose. 
  6. Repeat on the other side. 

Keen to improve your form? Check out our How To library to see exactly how the experts do over 100 of the most common strength training exercises.

Image: Stylist

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