Stretching is actually a controversial topic in the exercise physiology research world. There are several types of stretching. The two most common are active and passive stretching.
Active stretching – Is accomplished by contracting the antagonist muscle (the one opposite the target muscle you are trying to stretch). For example, to actively stretch the hamstrings, the quadriceps must be contracted.
Passive stretching – Uses gravity or force from another body part or person to move the body segment to its end range or motion or beyond.
The October 2009 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published two different studies on the potential hazards of stretching. The first study showed that muscular force was diminished in those who performed static stretching just before activity. Static stretching can be performed both actively and passively. Actively is much safer than passive. The second study showed that sprint ability may be compromised following static stretching in young male athletes.
Dr. Richard Dominguez, the author of The Complete Book of Sports Medicine and Orthopedic surgeon at Loyola University Medical Center, says the most damaging static stretches to the body are the yoga plow, hurdle’s stretch, toe touching, and stiff leg raise.
However, yoga when performed correctly can greatly improve “whole-body” flexibility. Yoga poses should be performed using a slow, deliberate, and easy motion and not be performed in a hurry. Many athletes tend to perform the poses too fast and hard potentially causing more harm than good.
My chiropractor shared a few really good yoga poses to help me stretch out my tight and problematic hips. So far they seemed to have helped a lot better than the more traditional static stretches that I have been taught in the past. Many runners and triathletes are extremely tight in the hip region and I thought I would share these in hopes that the poses/stretches may help you with any pain that you may have. Enjoy!
Hold each pose for 3 minutes at a time for each side.
1. Child’s Pose – Start in kneeling position and then drop your butt to your heels as you stretch the rest of your body down and forward. Take your knees out wider than “normal” child’s pose.
2. Frog Pose – Start in a table top position. Walk your knees out as wide as possible. Flex your feet pointing the toes outward and bring the inside of your feet to touch the floor. Bring your hips down and backwards.
3. Shoelace Pose – Start in a table top position. Bring right foot under left buttock and left foot over right knee and sit back on foot. If sitting on your feet hurts then try to pick them away from the body as far as possible.
4. Modified Pigeon Pose – Start in a table top position. Bring right leg forward and bend leg in front of you. Right leg should be bent in a 90 degree angle with lower leg against the floor. Lay upper body over front leg.
5. Firelog Pose – Get in a seated position with both legs in front of you. Bend the knees, bring your legs one at a time under you stacking your legs one at a time. In a perfect flexible world, the hips, ankles, and knees of each leg should form a 90 degree angle. Lengthen your spine and lean forward over your legs. If two legs are uncomfortable, then put one leg straight forward as in a reverse modified pigeon pose.
Stay tuned for some hip strengthen exercises this week!
~ Happy Training!