If you are subscribed to the IFAST newsletter (if you aren’t, get signed up! 🙂 ) you may have read about how stretching is not always beneficial. Even if an area feels “tight” when you stretch it, it may not be a good idea to do so.
For example, many people like to stretch their hamstrings because they feel “tight”, but many times this is not ideal because the hamstrings are already lengthened, which is why they feel “tight”. If you stretch a muscle that is already lengthened it will feel tight because it is already being put on stretch. Make sense?
This is one of the reasons we make sure to assess people before we train them – we can identify which areas are restricted (possibly need stretching) and which areas are “loose” or lengthened.
Today, I want to talk about a very popular stretch that I believe everyone needs to avoid – the lunge stretch. There are many names for it, but it is meant to stretch our your thigh muscles and the front of your hip. You can see a picture below.
The problem with this stretch is that is it is forcing your hip into an excessive range of motion that can cause irritation in the front of the hip. Our hip is only meant to extend (straighten) so much, and by forcing it to go further we are placing strain on the ligaments, capsule, and muscles that keep the head of the thigh bone in the socket. These structures are there to prevent our thigh bone from moving too forward in our hip socket. Therefore, we do not want to stretch them past a certain point.
So how can you get a better stretch for your thigh muscles and the front of your hip? You can simply modify the lunge stretch by keeping the down thigh and torso in a straight line.
We will simply hold this for 2 sets of 5-10 breaths on each side.
To make this stretch even more effective you can hold onto a PVC pipe and try to shove the stick into the floor, while also trying to tear it apart with your arms. This will help turn on your ab muscles and make you “tall”.
If you try this out and do not get much of a stretch on the thigh of the down leg you can simply elevate your back foot on a box, but make sure you keep your torso in line with your down thigh.
This modification to the lunge stretch will allow us to achieve a range of motion in our hips that is safe.
So if you are feeling a little tight in the front of your thighs and hips give this stretch a try.
If you are still unsure how to improve your mobility and flexibility, or which areas you should really be stretching give us as a call at (317) 578-0998. We will get you in for an assessment as soon as possible.
Have a great rest of the week!