Students - Stretching Explained
The techniques, ideas, and suggestions in this document are not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice.
It is extremely important that you consult your doctor before performing any new exercise or exercise technique, particularly if you are pregnant or nursing, if you are over 40, or if you have any chronic or recurring conditions. Any application of the techniques, ideas, and suggestions in this document is at the reader's sole discretion and risk.
Most sprains, fractions and bruises are a direct result of the following:
- Lack of warm up.
- Lack of stretching.
- Lack of proper equipment or facilities.
- Lack of knowledge of sport or exercise fatigue.
It is extremely important to gradually increase your body temperature before any type of strenuous physical activity. Warm ups should involve your entire body, should last about 30 minutes (including stretching) and include exercises similar to the exercises or activity that you will be performing. Always include your stretching program toward the end of your warm up.
An example of a warm up exercise:
- Light stretching.
- Light jogging - regular or in place.
- Light calisthenics - a few jumping jacks, squats etc.
- Low level sports – Karate-ka can do basic Karate moves at half pace.
- Full stretching.
If you get too tired during warm ups, you should do less strenuous warm up exercises. During a good warm up, you should not sweat, but be very close to sweating.
Perform the following sequence of stretches only after you have warmed up the muscles. Remember that your warm-up is the key to unlocking tight muscles, which is the cause of injury. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 20-30 seconds, breathing slowly through your nose, aiming to exhale out through your mouth as you ease into the stretch.
Normal Stretch (Hamstrings)
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, one foot extended half a step forward.
- Keeping the front leg straight, bend your rear leg, resting both hands on the bent thigh.
- Slowly exhale, aiming to tilt both buttocks upward, keeping the front leg straight, and both feet flat on the floor, pointing forward.
- Inhale slowly, and relax from this stretching exercise. Repeat the stretch again, this time beginning with the toes of the front foot raised toward the ceiling, but keeping the heel on the floor.
Quadriceps Standing (Quadriceps)
- Stand holding onto a secure object, or have one hand raised out to the side for balance.
- Raise one heel up toward your buttocks, and grasp hold of your foot, with one hand.
- Inhale, slowly pulling your heel to your buttock while gradually pushing your pelvis forward.
- Aim to keep both knees together, having a slight bend in the supporting leg.
Spine Curve (Abdominal Muscles)
- Begin the stretch by laying on your front, with your hands close to your chest, Palms on the floor.
- Exhale, pushing yourself up with your arms and contracting your buttocks while keeping both feet firmly on the floor.
- Look up toward the ceiling, to also feel the stretch in your neck.
Lower Back-Cat Stretch (Back Muscles)
- Adopt a position on all fours, point your fingers forward and your toes behind.
- Start with a flat back, and then drop your head downward, pushing your shoulder blades upward and outward as you elevate your upper back.
Shoulder Strangle (Shoulders and Chest)
- Cross one arm horizontally over your chest, grasping it with either your hand or forearm, just above the elbow joint.
- Exhale, slowly pulling your upper arm in toward your chest.
- Aim to keep the hips and shoulders facing forward throughout the stretch.
Hand Down Spine (Arm Muscle Stretches)
- Extend one hand down the centre of your back, fingers pointing downward.
- Use the other hand to grasp the elbow.
- Exhale slowly, pulling gently downward on your elbow, aiming to take your fingers along your spine.
Remember the most important thing about stretching your muscles, especially prior to exercise, is the warm-up. Cold muscles simply don't stretch, you have spend time getting the blood flowing through your muscles by performing a minimum of 5-10 minutes aerobic work.
It is essential that you make the warm up similar to the activity your about to embark on.
The warm-up is one of the key elements to any successful stretching program and, as such, you should allocate an adequate amount of time within your workout or stretching routine to enable your muscles to become adequately warm.
Muscles can only achieve maximum performance when all their blood vessels are dilated, enabling sufficient blood flow. At rest, muscles only utilise 15-20 percent of blood flow, compared to 70 percent, or more, after only 10 minutes of activity.
Stretching cold muscles is like stretching a piece of un-chewed chewing gum, it will simply split or tear, this is what can happen to your muscles; however once the gum is chewed, it becomes very pliable and you can pull it wide apart without tearing - once warm, your muscles will stretch further, giving a greater range of movement which will increase performance and reduce injury. Ensuring that before any exercise you stretch not only your specific muscles for that exercise, but all muscle groups to some extent, will help you to prevent any damage or tearing.
Once your activity or exercise routine is finished, it is important that you take time to allow your body to recover, especially after a hard aerobic workout. Always let you heart rate come down gradually, if you simply stop at the end of a run, then its likely that the blood that was flowing smoothly around your body will simply be restricted in areas such as your lower legs (blood pooling) which will make recovery and stretching much harder. Aim to keep warm and moving, slowly taking your heart rate down for a minimum period or 5 minutes before you look at performing the cool down stretches. As you are cooling down, take in fluids to help your body recover, keep warm by wearing suitable clothing and remove appropriate clothing that is wet.
Just as there are different types of flexibility, there are also different types of stretching. Stretches are either dynamic (meaning they involve motion) or static (meaning they involve no motion). Dynamic stretches affect dynamic flexibility and static stretches affect static flexibility (and dynamic flexibility to some degree).
The different types of stretching are:
- Ballistic stretching.
- Dynamic stretching.
- Active stretching.
- Passive (or relaxed) stretching.
- Static stretching.
- Isometric stretching.
- PNF stretching.
Ballistic stretching uses the momentum of a moving body or a limb in an attempt to force it beyond its normal range of motion. This is stretching, or "warming up", by bouncing into (or out of) a stretched position, using the stretched muscles as a spring which pulls you out of the stretched position. (e.g. bouncing down repeatedly to touch your toes.) This type of stretching is not considered useful and can lead to injury. It does not allow your muscles to adjust to, and relax in, the stretched position. It may instead cause them to tighten up by repeatedly activating the stretch reflex. Ballistic stretching is a form of passive stretching or dynamic stretching in a bouncing motion. Ballistic stretches force the limb into an extended range of motion when the muscle has not relaxed enough to enter it. It involves fast, "jerky" movements where a double bounce is performed at the end range of movement. Ballistic stretching has been found to be hazardous towards the body. It can injure vital muscles and nerve with the sharp jerking movements. It is even possible for tissue to be ripped off the bone. Therefore, Ballistic stretching should only be used by elite athletes. This should be under the supervision of their trainer.
Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching beneficial in sports utilising momentum from form, static-active stretching strength and the momentum from static-active stretching strength, in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one's static-passive stretching ability. Anything beyond this range of motion becomes ballistic stretching.
Dynamic Stretching Routine Using Circles
Perform each movement in two directions, both forwards and backwards, or clockwise/anticlockwise 10 times and for both left and right sides of your body.
- Wrist circles – clasp hands together and rotate wrists around.
- Neck semi-circles – start with your chin on your left shoulder, roll chin down and forward across your chest to your right shoulder, and come back the other way.
- Shoulder circles – hands by your side, roll your shoulders forward.
- Small arm circles – hands out to side, make small circles about the size of a tennis ball.
- Large arm circles – try and get your arms brushing your ears and your hips.
- Waist twists – bend both knees slightly, keep your hips facing forward, bend both arms so that fingertips are touching each other level with your chest and twist to the right and then to the left.
- Hip circles – hands on your hips, circle your hips around like you are hoolahooping.
- Full body circle – bend forward from the waist, let your fingertips sweep across the floor from right to left (keep your knees bent slightly), carrying on up to the left to bring your arms behind your head and down to outside your right foot.
- Ankle circles – keep your big toe on the floor in a fixed position and then rotate your ankle around it.
An active stretch is one where you assume a position and then hold it there with no assistance other than using the strength of your agonist muscles. For example, bringing your leg up high and then holding it there without anything (other than your leg muscles themselves) to keep the leg in that extended position. The tension of the agonists in an active stretch helps to relax the muscles being stretched. Active stretching increases active flexibility and strengthens the agonistic muscles. Active stretches are usually quite difficult to hold and maintain for more than 10 seconds and rarely need to be held any longer than 15 seconds.
Passive stretching is also referred to as relaxed stretching, and as static-passive stretching. A passive stretch is one where you assume a position and hold it with some other part of your body, or with the assistance of a partner or some other apparatus. For example, bringing your leg up high and then holding it there with your hand. Static stretching involves holding a position. That is, you stretch to the farthest point and hold the stretch ...
Isometric stretching is a type of static stretching which involves the resistance of muscle groups through isometric contractions (tensing) of the stretched muscles. The use of isometric stretching is one of the fastest ways to develop increased static-passive flexibility and is much more effective than either passive stretching or active stretching alone. Isometric stretches also help to develop strength in the "tensed" muscles, which helps to develop static-active flexibility, and seems to decrease the amount of pain usually associated with stretching.
The most common ways to provide the needed resistance for an isometric stretch are to apply resistance manually to one's own limbs, to have a partner apply the resistance, or to use an apparatus such as a wall (or the floor) to provide resistance.
The proper way to perform an isometric stretch is as follows:
- Assume the position of a passive stretch for the desired muscle.
- Next, tense the stretched muscle for 7-15 seconds (resisting against some force that will not move, like the floor or a partner).
- Finally, relax the muscle for at least 20 seconds.
Isometric stretching is not recommended for children and adolescents whose bones are still growing. These people are usually already flexible enough that the strong stretches produced by the isometric contraction have a much higher risk of damaging tendons and connective tissue. Physiotherapists strongly recommend preceding any isometric stretch of a muscle with dynamic strength training for the muscle to be stretched. A full session of isometric stretching makes a lot of demands on the muscles being stretched and should not be performed more than once per day for a given group of muscles (ideally, no more than once every 36 hours).
PNF stretching is currently the fastest and most effective way known to increase static-passive flexibility. PNF is an acronym for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. It is not really a type of stretching but is a technique of combining passive stretching and isometric stretching in order to achieve maximum static flexibility. Actually, the term PNF stretching is itself a misnomer. PNF was initially developed as a method of rehabilitating stroke victims. PNF refers to any of several post-isometric relaxation stretching techniques in which a muscle group is passively stretched, then contracts isometrically against resistance while in the stretched position, and then is passively stretched again through the resulting increased range of motion. PNF stretching usually employs the use of a partner to provide resistance against the isometric contraction and then later to passively take the joint through its increased range of motion. It may be performed, however, without a partner, although it is usually more effective with a partner's assistance.
Most PNF stretching techniques employ isometric agonist contraction/relaxation where the stretched muscles are contracted isometrically and then relaxed. Some PNF techniques also employ isometric antagonist contraction where the antagonists of the stretched muscles are contracted. In all cases, it is important to note that the stretched muscle should be rested (and relaxed) for at least 20 seconds before performing another PNF technique. The most common PNF stretching techniques are:
This technique is also called the contract-relax. After assuming an initial passive stretch, the muscle being stretched is isometrically contracted for 7-15 seconds, after which the muscle is briefly relaxed for 2-3 seconds, and then immediately subjected to a passive stretch, which stretches the muscle even further than the initial passive stretch. This final passive stretch is held for 10-15 seconds. The muscle is then relaxed for 20 seconds before performing another PNF technique.
This technique is also called the contract-relax-contract, and the contract-relax-antagonist-contract (or CRAC). It involves performing two isometric contractions: first of the agonists, then, of the antagonists. The first part is similar to the hold-relax where, after assuming an initial passive stretch, the stretched muscle is isometrically contracted for 7-15 seconds. Then the muscle is relaxed while its antagonist immediately performs an isometric contraction that is held for 7-15 seconds. The muscles are then relaxed for 20 seconds before performing another PNF technique.
This technique (and a similar technique called the hold-relax-bounce) actually involves the use of dynamic or ballistic stretches in conjunction with static and isometric stretches. It is very risky, and is successfully used only by the most advanced of athletes and dancers that have managed to achieve a high level of control over their muscle stretch reflex (see section The Stretch Reflex). It is similar to the hold-relax technique except that a dynamic or ballistic stretch is employed in place of the final passive stretch.
Notice that in the hold-relax-contract, there is no final passive stretch. It is replaced by the antagonist-contraction, which, via reciprocal inhibition, serves to relax and further stretch the muscle that was subjected to the initial passive stretch. Because there is no final passive stretch, this PNF technique is considered one of the safest PNF techniques to perform (it is less likely to result in torn muscle tissue). Some people like to make the technique even more intense by adding the final passive stretch after the second isometric contraction. Although this can result in greater flexibility gains, it also increases the likelihood of injury.
Even more risky are dynamic and ballistic PNF stretching techniques like the hold-relax-swing, and the hold-relax-bounce. If you are not a professional athlete or dancer, you probably have no business attempting either of these techniques (the likelihood of injury is just too great). Even professionals should not attempt these techniques without the guidance of a professional coach or training advisor. These two techniques have the greatest potential for rapid flexibility gains, but only when performed by people who have a sufficiently high level of control of the stretch reflex in the muscles that are being stretched.
Like isometric stretching PNF stretching is also not recommended for children and people whose bones are still growing (for the same reasons. Also like isometric stretching, PNF stretching helps strengthen the muscles that are contracted and therefore is good for increasing active flexibility as well as passive flexibility. Furthermore, as with isometric stretching, PNF stretching is very strenuous and should be performed for a given muscle group no more than once per day (ideally, no more than once per 36 hour period).
The initial recommended procedure for PNF stretching is to perform the desired PNF technique 3-5 times for a given muscle group (resting 20 seconds between each repetition).
Proper breathing control is important for a successful stretch. Proper breathing helps to relax the body, increases blood flow throughout the body, and helps to mechanically remove lactic acid and other by-products of exercise.
You should be taking slow, relaxed breaths when you stretch, trying to exhale as the muscle is stretching. Some even recommend increasing the intensity of the stretch only while exhaling, holding the stretch in its current position at all other times (this doesn't apply to isometric stretching).
The proper way to breathe is to inhale slowly through the nose, expanding the abdomen (not the chest); hold the breath a moment; then exhale slowly through the nose or mouth. Inhaling through the nose has several purposes including cleaning the air and insuring proper temperature and humidity for oxygen transfer into the lungs. The breath should be natural and the diaphragm and abdomen should remain soft. There should be no force of the breath. Some experts seem to prefer exhaling through the nose (as opposed to through the mouth) saying that exhaling through the mouth causes depression on the heart and that problems will ensue over the long term.
The rate of breathing should be controlled through the use of the glottis in the back of the throat. This produces a very soft "hm-m-m-mn" sound inside the throat as opposed to a sniffing sound in the nasal sinuses. The exhalation should be controlled in a similar manner, but if you are exhaling through the mouth, it should be with more of an "ah-h-h-h-h" sound, like a sigh of relief.
As you breathe in, the diaphragm presses downward on the internal organs and their associated blood vessels, squeezing the blood out of them. As you exhale, the abdomen, its organs and muscles, and their blood vessels flood with new blood. This rhythmic contraction and expansion of the abdominal blood vessels is partially responsible for the circulation of blood in the body. Also, the rhythmic pumping action helps to remove waste products from the muscles in the torso. This pumping action is referred to as the respiratory pump. The respiratory pump is important during stretching because increased blood flow to the stretched muscles improves their elasticity, and increases the rate at which lactic acid is purged from them.
If you stretch properly, you should not be sore the day after you have stretched. If you are, then it may be an indication that you are overstretching and that you need to go easier on your muscles by reducing the intensity of some (or all) of the stretches you perform. Overstretching will simply increase the time it takes for you to gain greater flexibility. This is because it takes time for the damaged muscles to repair themselves, and to offer you the same flexibility as before they were injured.
One of the easiest ways to "overstretch" is to stretch "cold" (without any warm-up). A "maximal cold stretch" is not necessarily a desirable thing. Just because a muscle can be moved to its limit without warming up doesn't mean it is ready for the strain that a workout will place on it.
Obviously, during a stretch (even when you stretch properly) you are going to feel some amount of discomfort. The difficulty is being able to discern when it is too much. If you feel like saying "ouch!" (Or perhaps something even more explicit) then you should ease up immediately and discontinue the stretch. You should definitely feel the tension in your muscle, and perhaps even light, gradual "pins and needles", but if it becomes sudden, sharp, or uncomfortable, then you are overdoing it and are probably tearing some muscle tissue (or worse). In some cases, you may follow all of these guidelines when you stretch, feeling that you are not in any "real" pain, but still be sore the next day. If this is the case, then you will need to become accustomed to stretching with less discomfort (you might be one of those "stretching masochists" that take great pleasure in the pain that comes from stretching).
Quite frequently, the progression of sensations you feel as you reach the extreme ranges of a stretch is localised warmth of the stretched muscles, followed by a burning (or spasm-like) sensation, followed by sharp pain (or "ouch!" pain). The localised warming will usually occur at the origin, or point of insertion, of the stretched muscles. When you begin to feel this, it is your first clue that you may need to "back off" and reduce the intensity of the stretch. If you ignore (or do not feel) the warming sensation and you proceed to the point where you feel a definite burning sensation in the stretched muscles, then you should ease up immediately and discontinue the stretch! You may not be sore yet, but you probably will be the following day. If your stretch gets to the point where you feel sharp pain, it is quite likely that the stretch has already resulted in tissue damage, which may cause immediate pain, and soreness that persists for several days.
If you are experiencing soreness, stiffness, or some other form of muscular pain, then it may be due to one or more of the following:
Overstretching and engaging in athletic activities without a proper warm-up can cause microscopic tearing of muscle fibers or connective tissues. If the tear is not too severe, the pain will usually not appear until one or two days after the activity that caused the damage. If the pain occurs during or immediately after the activity, then it may indicate a more serious tear (which may require medical attention). If the pain is not too severe, then light, careful static stretching of the injured area is supposedly okay to perform (see section Static Stretching). It is hypothesized that torn fibers heal at a shortened length, thus decreasing flexibility in the injured muscles. Very light stretching of the injured muscles helps reduce loss of flexibility resulting from the injury. Intense stretching of any kind, however, may only make matters worse.
Overexertion and/or intense muscular activity will fatigue the muscles and cause them to accumulate lactic acid and other waste products. If this is the cause of your pain, then static stretching, isometric stretching or a good warm-up or cool-down will help alleviate some of the soreness. Massaging the sore muscles may also help relieve the pain. It has also been claimed that supplements of vitamin C will help alleviate this type of pain, but controlled tests using placebos have been unable to lend credibility to this hypothesis. The ingestion of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) before athletic activity has been shown to help increase the body's buffering capacity and reduce the output of lactic acid. However, it can also cause urgent diarrhoea.
Exercising above a certain threshold can cause a decreased flow of blood to the active muscles. This can cause pain resulting in a protective reflex which contracts the muscle isotonically. The reflex contraction causes further decreases in blood flow, which causes more reflex contractions, and so on, causing the muscle to spasm by repeatedly contracting. One common example of this is a painful muscle cramp. Immediate static stretching of the cramped muscle can be helpful in relieving this type of pain. However, it can sometimes make things worse by activating the stretch reflex, which may cause further muscle contractions. Massaging the cramped muscle (and trying to relax it) may prove more useful than stretching in relieving this type of pain.
The general warm-up should begin with joint-rotations, starting either from your toes and working your way up or from your fingers and working your way down. This facilitates joint motion by lubricating the entire joint with synovial fluid. Such lubrication permits your joints to function more easily when called upon to participate in your athletic activity. You should perform slow circular movements, both clockwise and counter-clockwise, until the joint seems to move smoothly. You should rotate the following (in the order given, or in the reverse order):
- Fingers and knuckles.
Other exercises are as follows:
Areas affected: leg and arm muscles.
(When you become comfortable with these exercises, you may increase their effectiveness by adding ankle and wrist weights (1-3 lbs.) when performing them.)
Step #1 Stand straight up with your feet together and your hands down by your sides. Slightly bend your knees, then jump straight up while bringing your arms and hands together above your head moving your feet about two feet apart without bending your elbows or knees. Always land on the ball of your feet before your heal touches the floor.
Step #2 From last position in step #1 (hands straight up over your head and feet spread apart), slightly bend your knees and jump up while returning your arms to your side and your feet together.
Affected areas: leg and arm muscles, chest and back.
Step #1 Stand straight up with your feet about twelve inches apart and your hands down by your side. While keeping your back straight, crouch down by bending your knees until your hands touch the floor in front of your toes. This will be the "squat" position. With your hands flat on the floor in front of your feet, kick your feet straight out in back of you. This will be the "push-up" position.
Step #2 While keeping your legs and back straight, bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest touches the floor. Now straighten your elbows to raise your body back to the "push-up" position.
Step #3 Jump back to a "squat" position while keeping your hands on the floor. Now stand up straight to original "starting" position.
Affected areas: arms & shoulders
From a straight standing position with your arms extended straight out from your body, rotate your arms in a forward rotating motion making small circles about 3 inches in diameter at your hands. Gradually increase the diameter of the circles until you are making the biggest circles possible. This should take about 2-4 minutes.
10-30 times each direction
Affected areas: back, sides and hips
From a straight standing position with your hands on your hips, rotate your upper body as far as possible in each direction. This exercise should be done with a smooth even motion. Do not rotate fast or jerk your body.
Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold you arms out to the side parallel with the ground and the palms of the hand facing forward. Rotate the hands so the palms face to the rear. Stretch the arms back as far as possible. You should feel the stretch across your chest and in the biceps.
Upper Back Stretch
Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Interlock your fingers and push your hands as far away from your chest as possible, allowing your upper back to relax. You should feel the stretch between your shoulder blades.
Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Place your right arm, parallel with the ground across the front of your chest. Bend the left arm up and use the left forearm to ease the right arm closer to you chest. You will feel the stretch in the shoulder.
Repeat with the other arm.
Shoulder and Triceps Stretch
Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Place both hands above your head and then slide both of your hands down the middle of your spine. You will feel the stretch in the shoulders and the triceps.
Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, hands resting on the hips. Bend slowly to one side, come back to the vertical position and then bend to the other side. Do not lean forwards or backwards.
Abdominal and Lower Back Muscles
Lie face down on the ground in a prone position. Lift your body off the ground so that you are supported only by your forearms and toes. The elbows should be on the ground and should be almost directly below your shoulders. Your forearms and hands should be resting on the ground, pointed straight ahead, toes and feet should be shoulder width apart and your head in line with your spine. Contract your gluteus (bum) muscles gently. Hold for ten seconds. Lift your right arm off the ground, straighten it and point it straight ahead, holding it in the air for 10 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat with the left arm. Return to starting position. Lift your right leg off the ground and hold it there for ten seconds (keep back straight). Return to starting position. Repeat with left leg. Return to starting position. Lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously and hold them in position for ten seconds. Return to starting position. Lift your left arm and right leg simultaneously and hold them in position for ten seconds. Return to the starting position.
Sit on the ground with both legs straight out in front of you. Bend the left leg and place the sole of the left foot alongside the knee of the right leg. Allow the left leg to lie relaxed on the ground. Bend forward keeping the back straight. You will feel the stretch in the hamstring of the right leg. Repeat with the other leg.
Stand tall with one leg in front of the other, hands flat and at shoulder height against a wall.
Ease your back leg further away from the wall, keeping it straight and press the heel firmly into the floor. Keep your hips facing the wall and the rear leg and spine in a straight line. You will feel the stretch in the calf of the rear leg. Repeat with the other leg.
Hip and Thigh Stretch
Stand tall with you feet approximately two shoulder widths apart. Turn the feet and face to the right. Bend the right leg so that the right thigh is parallel with the ground and the right lower leg is vertical. Gradually lower the body. Keep you back straight and use the arms to balance. You will feel the stretch along the front of the left thigh and along the hamstrings of the right leg. Repeat by turning and facing to the left.
Stand tall with you feet approximately two shoulder widths apart. Bend the right leg and lower the body. Keep you back straight and use the arms to balance. You will feel the stretch in the left leg adductor. Repeat with the left leg.
Sit with tall posture. Ease both of your feet up towards your body and place the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to come up and out to the side. Resting your hands on your lower legs or ankles and ease both knees towards the ground. You will feel the stretch along the inside of your thighs and groin.
Front of Trunk Stretch
Lie face down on the floor, fully outstretched. Bring your hands to the sides of your shoulders and ease your chest off the floor, keeping your hips firmly pressed into the ground. You will feel the stretch in the front of the trunk.
Iliotibial Band Stretch
Sitting tall with legs stretched out in front of you. Bend the right knee and place the right foot on the ground to the left side of the left knee. Turn your shoulders so that you are facing to the right. Using your left arm against your right knee to help ease you further round. Use your right arm on the floor for support. You will feel the stretch along the length of the spine and in the muscles around the right hip.
Lie face down on the floor, resting your fore-head on your right hand. Press your hips firmly into the floor and bring your left foot up towards your buttocks. Take hold of the left foot with the left hand and ease the foot closer to your buttocks. Repeat with the right leg. You will feel the stretch along the front of the thigh.