This Valentine’s Day consider getting a little closer through the gift of partner stretching. Stretching improves flexibility and reduces your risk for injury. And partner stretching is a great way to foster intimacy in your relationship. To engage in the following partner stretches, designate one person the “stretcher” (person assisting) and one the “stretchee” (person doing the actual stretching). Remember that stretching is supposed to feel good and pain-free, so if you feel pain, let your partner know. Continual communication is essential throughout partner stretching.
1. Pectoral (Chest) Stretch
Stretching the chest area elongates these muscles while releasing tension and tightness that builds over time due to stress and everyday tasks. To stretch, clasp your hands behind your head and allow your partner to gently pull your arms back. (Don’t yank the shoulders at their joints.) Allow the front chest muscles to lengthen. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds while breathing. Then take a break and repeat several times.
2. Hamstring Stretch
Routine hamstring stretches greatly increase flexibility and help prevent injury while working out. Lie on your back with your lower back and shoulders pressed to the floor. Your partner kneels to one side of you, taking hold of your closest leg at the ankle and slightly above the knee. Keep fully extended, raising the leg gently towards your torso while ensuring your hips, lower back and shoulders stay pressed to the floor. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds and then repeat on other side.
3. Rotational Stretch
Stand with your partner directly behind you, facing your back. Cross your arms over your chest and rotate to the right, keeping feet firmly on floor, pelvis straight (no shifting). Focus on twisting through each vertebra in your spine. Once you have reached your maximum rotation, your partner will embrace you across the arms, and gently, provides a small amount of extra stretch. Hold and breathe into this stretch for three breath cycles, then complete on the other side. Breathe together while stretching and communicate how the stretch feels to each of you. The sensation should be comfortable and relaxing.
Once the stretching is complete, try another healthy partner activity, such as a couples run or massage. Keeping in tune with each other’s bodies is just one more way for you to increase shared intimacy and closeness in your relationship.