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Occupational Therapist Nancy stretching hamstring with yoga strap

Stretching for health

Studies have foune that stretching improves joint range of motion (flexibility), decreases muscle tension, improves circulation, relieves muscle pain, prevents injury, and improves athletic performance (Nakaruma et al., 2015; Avela et al., 1999; Suzuki, 2005). Stretching the legs can allieviate low back, hip, and pelvic pain.

Here's a New Year's Stretching routine to get started. Please consult with your doctor or a rehabilitation therapist before beginning any exercise routines.

Tools Needed

  • Yoga strap, dog leash, or robe strap
  • A comfortable place to lay down (yoga mat or blanket)

Hamstrings Stretch

Strap S ABD

Start laying on your back with your feet on the floor. Lift one foot off the ground and loop the strap around the ball of the foot. Relax low back and shoulders. With leg straight and relaxed on, use your hands to walk up strap and raise leg up into a stretch. Keep knee soft, NOT Locked. Only raise leg as far as you can keep your bottom and low back flat on floor or bed. Stretch for 30 seconds - 1 minute, and repeat 2-3x on each side.

Adductor Stretch

Strap S ADD

Begin by lying down comfortably on floor with both knees bent and feet on floor. Relax low back and shoulders. Loop strap around the ball of the foot. Begin with the hamstring stretch (ABOVE) and slowly swing the leg out to side, using arms for control and stability. Keep knee soft, NOT Locked. Keep your other knee bent and allow it to fall out to the other side if needed to keep back flat on bed/floor. Stretch for 30 seconds - 1 minute, and repeat 2-3x on each side.

Abductor Stretch

Strap S ABD

Begin by lying down comfortably on floor or bed with both knees bent and feet on the floor. Relax low back and shoulders. Relax low back and shoulders. Loop strap around the ball of the foot. Begin with the hamstring stretch (ABOVE) and slowly swing the leg across the body, across midline to the opposite side. Use arms for control and stability. Keep knee soft, NOT locked. Stretch for 30 seconds - 1 minute, and repeat 2-3x on each side.

Piriformis Stretch

strap stretch Pir

Begin by lying down comfortably on floor or bed with one knee bent and foot on floor/bed and other foot resting on opposite knee. Strap or hands are wrapped around bottom knee. Relax low back and shoulders. Gently bring both arms to bring bottom knee to chest to stretch opposite glute/hip. Keep shoulders relaxed and keep back flat on bed/floor hips even. Stretch for 30 seconds - 1 minute, and repeat 2-3x on each side.

Please consult with your doctor or a physical therapist for an individualized session and exercises.

Give us a call to make an appointment today.

Resources

Nakamura K, Kodama T, Mukaino Y. Effects of active individual muscle stretching on muscle function. J Phys Ther Sci. 2014;26(3):341-344. doi:10.1589/jpts.26.341

Avela J, Kyrolainen H, Komi PV: Altered reflex sensitivity after repeated and prolonged passive muscle stretching. J Appl Physiol, 1999, 86: 1283–1291 [PubMed]

Suzuki S: Testing of the effects of physical therapy on myofascial pain by imaging. J Jpn Phys Ther Assoc, 2005, 32: 32–33 []

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by Amanda W.

Heather's unique physical therapy program literally changed my life! After years of struggling with vaginismus, a condition that made it impossible for me to have intercourse and very difficult to use tampons without pain, a gynecologist referred me to Heather. I was nervous for my first appointment, but Heather's professional and friendly demeanor put me at ease. She did a great job explaining each technique she was using to help my muscles relax. Heather uses a combination of internal and external stretches and exercises to relax the pelvic floor and build muscle strength. Her specially developed home program helped me quickly recover from an issue that seemed insurmountable before meeting Heather. She was optimistic about my progress and incredibly encouraging. Less than 6 months after my first session, I was able to have pain-free sex for the first time in my life! If you are suffering from vaginismus or any other pelvic floor issues, I highly recommend making an appointment with Heather and reading her book!

-- Amanda W., 2/15/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Jamie M.

I have been going to see Heather for a while now, and I can't tell you enough how much she has improved my quality of life. Heather specializes in issues like pelvic floor, but I see her for other orthopedic issues.

I have a lot of chronic joint pain and dysfunction issues (back, hips, neck) that require that have ongoing physical therapy maintenance. The effects of my problem joints/areas overlap and interconnect with each other in complex ways, so helping me requires really having a complete understanding of the entire skeletal and muscular system. Pain does not always appear where the problem actually is, the human body is a twisty, many-layered puzzle. I have an exercise program I do at home and I am very functional, but there are just something things I need a PT to help me out with.

Read more: Testimonial by Jamie M.

Testimonial by M.M.

A personal journey and testimonial from one of my patients:

My husband and I were married for 5 years before we were able to have intercourse due to my vaginismus. There was nothing traumatic in my past but for some reason, even though I wanted sex, I mentally avoided "that area" of my body and didn't even admit to myself that there was a problem for a long time, even though I was never able to put tampons in. Once I finally opened my eyes up to the fact that I had a problem, I had a surgery that was supposed to fix the issue.

Read more: Testimonial by M.M.

Testimonial by A.M.

Months after giving birth, it was difficult for me to go from a sitting or lying position up to a full standing position without feeling that I had to remain hunched over until a bit of time had passed to get fully upright. However, after taking Heather’s course, I learned exercises to get my body back to normal. She also showed me correct ways to lift and carry my son as well as put him in/take him out of the carseat and stroller. This class was really beneficial and Heather is a wonderful teacher who made me feel very comfortable.

-- A.M.

Testimonial by P.M.

I was hopeful but frankly skeptical when the doctor treating me for Interstitial Cystitis recommended that I go to Heather for physical therapy. Medication and diet helped control my IC symptoms, but I had never heard of physical therapy being used to treat IC. The education and treatment I received from Heather was a revelation. She explained that the pain I experienced with IC had helped create a cycle of muscle guarding which affected the entire pelvic area. I had no idea of the amount of tension being held there. No wonder my husband and I had not been able to have sexual intercourse for years!

Read more: Testimonial by P.M.

Testimonial by A.W., age 32

I wanted to let you know that my pelvic floor held strong and gave me no trouble whatsoever in my trail race this morning (12 miles)! In a way, I felt like I ran better than ever because my core feels so rock solid from all the exercises you have me doing. That was especially valuable on the technical downhill - I just flew down the trail because I had confidence in my balance and form. Thank you for helping me get back to doing what I love.

-- A.W., age 32
(completed Post-partum Renewal Program using the InTone biofeedback/stim unit)

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