The cross over stretch is a flexibility exercise that targets the core muscles, loosening them and helping in the treatment and prevention of back pain. If you are concerned about your ability to perform this exercise, you may want to meet with your doctor in order to determine if you're healthy enough to perform the stretch.
About the Cross Over Stretch
The cross over stretch is a great exercise that can be either before or after cardiovascular or strength training, and it targets the oblique and hamstring muscles, as well as those in the lower back. Stretching these muscles not only prevents the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles, thereby preventing muscle soreness after exercise, but can also help in the treatment and prevention of chronic back pain. Therefore, this is a great exercise that can be included in the workout of almost all exercisers.
Preparing Your Body for the Cross Over Stretch
Before performing the cross over stretch, it is important to understand how to properly prepare your body. Start by finding a clean exercise or yoga mat, and place it down on the ground in an area that is free from dumbbells or other pieces of exercise equipment that could potentially get in the way. Lay down on the mat flat on your back with your arms resting comfortably by your sides and your palms facing the ceiling. Start by extending your legs out in front of you, and let them rest on the floor. Take a few deep breaths in this position. After a few minutes, hug your knees into your chest, lacing your fingers around your shins. Roll slightly side to side, massaging your lower back and helping to get it loosened up. Finally, extend your legs toward the ceiling, keeping them as straight as possible. Ideally, your body should look like an "L" at this point.
Performing the Cross Over Stretch
Now that you are positioned properly, you can perform the cross over stretch. Start by taking a few more deep breaths. As you exhale, slowly lower your right leg to the ground, while keeping your left leg extended. Now, slowly roll onto your right hip, allowing your left leg to lower to the ground and cross over your body, coming to rest on the right side of your mat. Hold the pose for at least 20 seconds before switching to the other side. Do another 20-second interval with each leg in order to achieve optimal results withe the cross over stretch.
Increasing the Intensity of the Cross Over Stretch
One great way to increase the intensity of the cross over stretch is to extend your arms out to the side while performing the stretch. You'll feel an even more intense stretch along your ribcage and in your lower back. This stretch will feel so good, you'll never want to come out of it.