While it may not be so easy to always get your stretching in (like you should!), adding some fun partner stretches to the mix can make all the difference when it comes to working on your flexibility.
What are the Benefits of Partner Stretches?
- You’ll actually do your stretching because it’s more fun
- Spend quality time with a partner or friend
- Increase your flexibility and range of motion
- You won’t need equipment
- You’ll get a better stretch than you would on your own
Types of Partner Stretches
There are several ways to take advantage of stretching with a partner. One of those is called PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation). PNF stretches facilitate the contracting and stretching of muscles and help you improve flexibility. Using both passive and active type stretches, your partner can help you hold a stretch, contract a muscle, and also hold a stretch against resistance. This type of stretching can really help you increase your range of motion and flexibility.
There are also numerous yoga poses and stretches you can do with a partner that can help you get in more stretching all while calming your mind, reducing stress, alleviating depression, and helping you relax.
There are even couple’s partner stretches who desire to connect on a more intimate level. Building trust and communicating with your partner through a series of yoga poses and stretches can really help you and your significant other strengthen your bond as you learn to communicate, move, and breathe together.
Try These Partner Stretches
Back and Chest Stretch—begin by standing and facing each other. Grasp each other’s hands and take a giant step backwards while rounding your backs. Feel the stretch throughout your back as you hold this stretch. Next, turn around and grasp hands behind you as you both face away from each other. Again, take a step away from each other to intensify this stretch. This will open your chest and stretch your shoulders and arms as you lean away from each other.
Hamstring Stretch—begin by lying on your back with your arms at your sides and your legs straight. Have your partner kneel and place his/her right knee against the inner thigh of your left leg. Your partner should grab your right heel and, while keeping your leg straight, lift your leg into the air and back toward your head. S/he should grasp your leg at the heel and keep the other hand near your knee to ensure your leg stays straight. Let your partner know once you feel a full stretch and then have her/him hold your leg in that position for ten seconds before releasing and repeating on the opposite side.
Leg Across—this stretch is the same as above except once your partner has your leg perpendicular to the ground, have him/her move your leg sideways across your body toward your left side.
Leg Out—have your partner move your leg from the upright position outward to your right side and toward the ground. Remember to keep your leg straight (no bend at the knee).
Inner Thigh Stretch—sit facing each other and stretch your unbent legs out as far as you can to each side. Make sure you and your partner’s feet are touching and lean forward to grasp each other’s hands in the middle. Have your partner pull you toward them as they lean back and as your torso moves toward the ground. You should feel a good stretch through your inner thighs and hips. Let your partner know when to ease up and then hold the stretch for a few seconds. Repeat the process for your partner.
Butterfly Groin Stretch—if you have tight hips, groin, inner thighs, or lower back, then this partner stretch is for you. Begin by sitting on the ground and bend both legs to bring your heels toward your groin with your feet together. Pull your heels toward your groin and then have your partner stand behind you and place a hand on each knee. With gentle pressure, have them push your knees toward the ground until you feel a good stretch.
Variation: Once you have good flexibility with the original stretch, have your partner push your back forward and down (by applying pressure to your lower back) to increase the intensity of the stretch.
Seated Twist—begin by sitting on the floor with your legs crossed in front of you and your back against your partner’s back. Place your left hand on your right knee and then bring your right arm around and place it on your partner’s left knee. Have your partner do the same with you while you both twist your torsos to the right. Hold the stretch for ten seconds and then repeat on the opposite side. Make sure you both keep your heads facing forward during the stretch.
Keys to Maximizing Your Partner Stretches
- Communicate with your partner—communication here is key. To properly stretch, and not injure your partner, it’s critical to listen to each other. Speak up and let your partner know how far to push you and, of course, let her/him know to stop pushing the stretch if you experience pain.
- Remember to breathe—don’t hold your breath. Try to exhale as you stretch the muscle and inhale upon release.
- Don’t bounce—gently stretch the muscle and hold the stretch versus bouncing while your muscle is stretched.