5 Stretches Every Woman Should Be Doing

Working on flexibility is the most important thing you're not doing. These exercises are a great way to get started.

11/25/2015 01:44 pm ET

Get loose with these stretches recommended by David Reavy, founder of React Physical Therapy in Chicago. Do them three times a week, in order, before you exercise or on their own. "These moves work on the most common trouble areas for women," says Reavy. "You'll feel more balanced in the upper and lower body, create strength in the abs and get all your muscles working better." You'll need a foam roller and some lacrosse balls (don't sub in tennis balls; they aren't hard enough).

  • Hip Flexor Release
    Brown Bird Design
    Tape two lacrosse balls together, lie on stomach and place balls just below right hip bone. Lean weight on balls, bend right knee at a 90-degree angle and swing right leg side to side. Do for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.
  • Vastus Lateralis Release
    Brown Bird Design
    Lie on left side using forearms as support and place a foam roller under left thigh. Roll for 30 seconds, moving from base of hip to top of knee. If you find a tender spot, stop, bend knee at a 90-degree angle then straighten. Repeat motion for 15 seconds at each tender spot. Repeat on right side.
  • Glute Release
    Brown Bird Design
    Sit with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Place lacrosse ball under right glute. Move bent right leg side to side while flexing foot. Do for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.
  • Tricep Release
    Brown Bird Design
    Lie on side with arm extended and foam roller under tricep. Find a tender spot, stay there and bend and straighten forearm for 10 to 15 reps. Repeat at each tender area, then switch sides.
  • Upper Trap Release
    Brown Bird Design
    Stand near ball placed between wall and the spot where neck and shoulder meet. Find a tender area, stay there and shrug shoulder up and down for 45 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

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