You may use assistance from a friend in order to ensure a proper form of the stretch.
Make sure that you are felling the stretch in the back of your leg, and absolutely not in your front leg. If this is the case, then you are performing the stretch incorrectly which could lead to injuries, so be careful!
Because of its nature, the soleus muscles tend to get easily strained if you reach the “overexerted level” during your workout.
What happens is that your muscle fibers get strained which in return causes you pain and soreness.
This is something you need to avoid, and this is why you should put your focus in regularly performing the soleus stretch as a part of your stretching routine.
The gastrocnemius stretch, is the one of the two muscles that are responsible for the functionality of your calf. The other muscle, soleous, which is discussed in a completely different post is equally important as well.
Following muscles are activated when performing this stretch: gastrocnemius.
No specific equipment is necessary for this stretch.
Keep yourself relaxed and lean slowly on the fall by having your palms facing upwards (see image).
Place both hands on a wall or piece of equipment – shoulder width apart.
Extend one foot behind you with your heel firmly planted on the ground. Flex the other leg & plant it halfway between the wall and your back leg.
Make sure your feet are perpendicular (90 degrees) to the wall.
Keeping your back knee straight, and your heel pressed to the floor, slowly lunge forward.
Hold for 30 seconds. You should feel this stretch in your calves (gastrocnemius).
Ease out of the stretch, switch legs, and repeat.
There is another stretch related to this one that is going to stretch your soleus & achilles. For more information, see the following post.
A variation to this stretch is to bend your back knee in the exact same position. By doing this you will be able to isolate the stretch to your soleous muscle.
This stretch is performed while leaning both palms against a wall or other stationary object but you can pretty much use anything stable that you can lean against.
As always, make sure that you are careful if your feel pain during the stretch. If this is the case, immediately stop because a stretch is never supposed to cause you pain.
When people ask me how they can increase flexibility, enhance mobility, & reduce the risk of injury in their calf, I always recommend the gastroncnemius stretch.
The leaning lat stretch is going to prevent tight lats which could impact on the movement in your shoulders. This will result ability to perform everyday movements such as being able to reach your arms overhead.
Following muscles are activated during the leaning lat stretch: latissimus dorsi and lower trapezius.
In order to perform this stretch you will need a stable object to grasp (see image below).
There are no specific requirements necessary for this stretch.
Start the lat stretch in a standing position.
(Inhale) Grasp a pole – or other well-anchored stationary object – with both hands. Note: This stretch works best with hands at waist or hip level.
(Exhale) Bend your knees & sit back until arms are fully extended & supporting your weight.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Breathe regularly. You should feel this stretch in your upper back and shoulders.
A good substitute is the standing version of the lat stretch that is equally efficient.
A variation to this stretch is to perform the stretch in a kneeling position.
After you’ve stretched your lats for about 15 seconds, try shifting your weight to the right for a bit and then shift your weight to the left. You should feel the stretch on the same side you’re leaning toward.
Make sure the object you are grasping doesn’t have wheels, and is well-anchored to the floor. Sounds like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe what we’ve seen.
If I was you, I would definitively give the leaning lat stretch a chance. If you are facing issues in your mobility you might want to consider performing it in a kneeling position.
A lot of people prefer this version, even if they are not having mobility issues because it allows you to relax easier and get a short piece of mind!
A variation is to sit down on a chair or bench and then perform the overhead triceps stretch. This is especially useful if you have hard to keep a steady balance or having any other mobility issues that might stop you from performing the stretch in a standing position.
If you find this stretch hard to perform you could hold a tower in your right hand. Then raise & bend your right arm in order to drape the towel down back.
Next, make sure to grasp the bottom end of your towel with the left hand. Start then to climb your left hand progressively higher up towel which will indirectly also pull your right arm as well.
Keep your head up and eyes straight ahead. (In other words, don’t tilt your neck forward.)
All in all, this is an easy stretch that can be performed no matter your age which makes it especially useful for elderly people.
The piriformis. Where is it located and why is it so important to add a piriformis stretch to your exercise regime?
The piriformis is a deep hip muscle that crosses directly over the sciatic nerve. A tight or spasmodic piriformis places pressure on the sciatic nerve causing “sciatica-type pain” known as Piriformis Syndrome (numbness, & tingling in the lower back, bum, & legs).
Following muscles are activated during the lying piriformis stretch: piriformis, glutes & outer thigh.
No specific equipment is required for this stretch but a fitness mat or similar is recommended.
Make sure you are lying comfortably on the ground and keep your body relaxed before you start the stretch.
Start in a lying position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
Rest your left ankle slightly above your right knee.
(Inhale) Clasp your hands behind your right thigh & (Exhale)slowly pull your leg toward your chest.
Continue breathing normally & try to relax more fully into the stretch each time you exhale.
Hold for 30 seconds. You should feel this stretch in your bum and outer thigh (piriformis).
Slowly release the stretch, switch sides, and repeat.
A substitution to this stretch is the chair stretch which is recommended for elderly & also if you are facing mobility issues.
A variant on this stretch is the seated piriformis stretch. Here is how to do it:
Start in a seated position with both legs extended in front of you.
Bend your left leg, cross it over your right leg, placing your left foot flat on the floor.
(Inhale) Sit up as tall as you can, place your right elbow on the outside of your left knee, & (Exhale) slowly twist your body to the left.
Continue breathing deelply & try to relax more fully into the stretch each time you exhale.
Hold for 30 seconds before you gently release the stretch. You should feel this stretch in your bum and outer thigh (piriformis).
Switch legs & repeat.
Make sure you try out the chair stretch alternative if you are facing issues with your back.
As always use common sense when it comes to stretching. If you feel pain during the stretch, stop immediately as this is a sign that something is wrong!
Add a piriformis stretch to your routine. Better yet, combine this stretch with lower back, bum, & hamstring stretches 3-4 times per week. This will prevent tightening and may relieve your tension-related lower back pain!
Lift both legs to your chest simultaneously instead of one at a time.
Keep your knee as close to your chest as possible without feeling pain or discomfort. Keep your other leg relaxed and bent or relaxed and extended.
Immediately stop with the stretch if you feel pain in your back or your leg. Of course, the “pain” feeling is individual but a thumb rule you should have is that you should feel a light stretch, anything beside this should be a warning to stop.
What I enjoy most with this stretch is the fact that almost anyone can do it. This because a lot of stretches requires you to pose a good balance and mobility.
However, in this stretch you are actually lying down on the floor. This is why the knee to chest stretch is ideal for elderly as well considering that this group tend to face issues with their mobility.
You may vary this stretch by first raising your left arm in the air while you bend to the right. Repeat on the other side by raising your right arm instead while you bend to the left.
Do this stretch in front of a mirror until your form is correct. Focus on keeping your hip bones parallel to the floor.
Protect your lower back by bending your knees, tightening your abs, & locking your hips in place. When you reach over to the side, your hips should not shift in the opposite direction.
The site stretch is easy to perform which makes it ideal for almost anyone. Personally, this stretch is one of my favorite as it allows me to relieve stress, increase my flexibility and also improve the rib cage mobility.
If you have not tried it out yet, I suggest you give it a chance because you will be positively surprised about it!
If you haven’t included an ITB Stretch in your exercise program, you may be headed for trouble.
The ITB is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along your outer thigh from your hip to your knee. Tight ITB’s are notorious for pulling the knee joint out of alignment (pain) & causing inflammation in the hip area (more pain).
Other issues that you might face with tightness of your ITB is patella maltracking which simply means that your kneecap is prevented from gliding properly.
Following muscles are mainly involved during the ITB stretch: Iliotibial Band, Gluteus Maximus, External & Internal Obliques, Tensor Fasciae Lata and Quadratus Lumborum
There is no equipment required in order to perform this stretch successfully.
Make sure you have a good balance before you initiate the stretch.
Start the IT Band Stretch in a standing position.
Cross your right foot over your left.
Bend at the waist and try to touch the floor.
Hold for 30 seconds. You should feel this stretch along your left hip and outer thigh. (For a deeper stretch, place more weight on the back leg.)
Ease out of the stretch, switch legs, & repeat on the opposite side.
You may substitute the iliotibial band stretch with foam rolling which is an inexpensive piece of equipment that you can obtain almost anywhere.
There are several ways to vary the ITB stretch on. You may for example perform the stretch by learning on a wall or lying on your side at the edge of a bench or table. Also, if you are disabled you may perform the stretch with assistance. For more information on the different itb stretches, see this post.
Remember to keep your knees soft (unlocked) during this stretch.
As with any stretch, make sure that you are careful in order to avoid any serious injuries.
By involving the itb (iliotibial band) stretch into your regular stretching routine, you can make a huge impact when it comes to preventing problem in your back, hip and knee.