Kat’s rule of thumb for stretching

Introduction to Stretching   

Healthy muscle is soft yet toned. Unhealthy muscle is tired ropey and tight. This makes them prone to pain and injury. Always practice these stretches within your comfort range and regularly to achieve healthy tone. It takes some time to change a muscle. Remember you may be sore the next day don’t stretch a sore muscle. Wait for a few days to let it ease.

I recommend having a watch with a second hand near by;

  1. Hold the stretch for a minimum of 20 seconds and use gentle breaths to make it really work well. Notice how long it takes FOR YOU to feel the gentle lengthening of the muscle. It is better to do one stretch really well rather than repeat it lots of times badly…leaving you free to do as you please!
  2. All the stretches I give should be done slowly and to about two thirds of what you feel it could do. If it hurts stop! It should be a nice pulling feel.Use a mirror to make sure that you are in a good posture as shown on the photos.
  3. Breathe into the stretch.

Hip stretches

 

Lying flat on your back bring one knee to your chest and across to your opposite side. You should feel the stretch in the buttock. If you feel pain in the groin come out of the stretch and try bringing the angle of the leg further up toward the shoulder and head and less across the body.

Sitting against the wall put your hand under your buttocks, you will feel your sitting bones or “Ischial tuberosities”.  Keep your sitting bones so that they are flat on the floor and your pelvis is rotated forward keeping your low back gently curved inward.  Put the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to relax toward the floor. Hold around your toes but keep your posture upright.

Straighten your legs and keep your back straight. Bending from your Ischial tuberosities lift up and away from your sitting bones and forward. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of the thighs, or the back of the knees.  Stretch your heels away along the floor.

A more gentle stretch is shown here. Remember to keep your Ischial tuberosities pushed backwards and your knees and back straight.  Remember if you don’t feel the stretch in the back of your thighs or hamstrings then you need to change the angle of your pelvis as directed.

Psoas Stretch

The Psoas muscle runs from the front of the hip to the waist area at the back of your stomach.

It helps bring the knee toward  the chest and bends the lumbar spine toward the leg.

The aim of the stretch is to take the two attachments apart to stretch the muscle fibers.

It doesn’t matter how far you move the leg in the stretch. It is more important to feel a good comfortable stretch in the muscle itself.

Remember overstretching causes the opposite effect…it tightens. So hold the stretch for 20 seconds and  breathe.

Stay upright do not overarch the lower back.

Remember to always keep your back long, tall and relaxed. If your lower back is pinching check the angle of your forward leg. Keep the knee at 90 degrees and squeeze more from the behind legs/buttock.

Quadricep Stretch

The quadriceps runs from the front of the hip and wraps around the knee cap.  It straightens the knee and helps bring the knee toward  the chest.

The aim of the stretch is to take the two attachments apart to stretch the muscle fibers.

It doesn’t matter how far you move the leg in the stretch. It is more important to feel a good comfortable stretch in the muscle itself.

Remember overstretching causes the opposite effect…it tightens. So hold the stretch for 20 seconds and  breathe.

The important point with this stretch is to open the front of the hip . You can do this by pushing forward with the buttock on the same side; it will feel like you are squeezing or clenching the buttock.  This is more important than pulling the foot to bring the knee back.

By doing this you avoid arching your back which can hurt it.

Remember to always keep your back long, tall and relaxed. If your low back is pinching loosen your grip on your foot and squeeze more from the buttock.

Another way to stretch the quadriceps is to put your lower leg on a chair instead of holding the foot. Make sure you still stand  tall and relaxed and squeeze  the buttock.

Anti Slouch Stretches 

Our  faces are at the front! We tend to shorten and tighten the muscles at the front. The back muscles loose the tug of war and become stretched. This exercise strengthens the back shoulder muscles to reintroduce balance making the shoulder mechanism more efficient.

Pectorals – Keep you shoulder down and back, the crown of your head up and your chin tucked in.  Hold your arm at 90 degrees and step your opposite foot forward; i.e. to stretch your left pectoral put your right foot forward, leaving your raised arm relaxed. Transfer your weight from the back foot to the front foot. Make sure the shoulders stay parallel and that your elbow is left slightly behind.

Scalenes and upper Trapezius muscles – Fixing your hands under your chair, tuck your chin down and in to open the back of the neck. Tilt to the left, taking your head away from your shoulder and leaving your hand behind as an anchor to stretch away from. Hold for 20 seconds and breathe.

Lower Trapezius – This  muscle brings the position of the shoulder blade down on the back. Lowering the shoulder from hunched to relaxed.

Hold the band in the left hand. Grasp it with the right hand with the hand turned inward. Holding the left shoulder blade down, turn your right hand outward and lift the hand up and away in a smooth arc. Return slowly to the original position.  Repeat 10 times.

Infraspinatus – Hook your theraband around a door handle.  Keeping your shoulders down and in and your elbows by your sides, gently turn your arms outward. Slowly return them to the original position.  Repeat 10 times