I am challenging you this month to try something and let me know your results. I can almost guarantee that you will feel your leg literally grow!
Then let’s go!
Firstly before you begin:-
- Check with your Doctor or therapist. Is it safe for you to stretch?
· Warm up first. Cold muscles will increase your risk of injury. Take a short brisk walk and mobilize your joints first or stretch after your work-out.
· Hold stretches for at least one minute. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely, also time must be allowed for correct alignment. Continually assess body alignment and learn to explore the muscle by changing leg arm or upper body position and weight applied.
· Don’t bounce. Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears in the muscle. These tears leave scar tissue as the muscle heals which tightens the muscle even further – making you less flexible and more prone to pain.
· Focus on a pain-free stretch. Expect to feel tension while you are stretching but not pain. You should take the stretch to the point where you feel tension and then hold it, the feeling should go away after approximately 20 seconds, however, if it increases and the leg starts to shake back off and start the process again but more slowly this time.
· Relax and breathe freely. Do not hold your breath while you are stretching results will be far greater if you increase the stretch towards the end of the out-breath. Ensure you breathe deeply focusing your breath towards the front, sides and back of your ribcage. Be aware of your diaphragm (your main breathing muscle) – as you inhale your ribcage lifts and opens but the diaphragm flattens moving downwards towards the abdominal cavity. When you exhale your ribcage comes down and inwards, however, the diaphragm starts to lift and float upwards towards your sternum (breast bone) almost like an open parachute.
Are you ready?
Start by lying on your back, if more comfortable lie on a mat, on the floor with both legs outstretched and hands by your side. Take a moment to close your eyes and notice the contact of the legs, pelvis and lower back on the mat; also note the position of your head.
· Lay on your back.
· Either bend one knee or leave leg lying flat.
· Place a strong band around the other foot closer to the ball of the foot. If you do not have a band anything that you can comfortably wrap around the foot and hold onto without lifting your head and shoulders off the floor.
· If more comfortable place a cushion under your head and lay on a mat.
· Slowly lower the leg towards the floor and up again, no speed or momentum, just test your range of motion, repeat 3 times.
· Hold the leg towards the ceiling and circle the leg several times to the right then left, keeping the leg passive in the band.
· Bring the leg back to centre still with the heel facing the ceiling, hold the leg centre and breathe in. As you exhale drop the weight onto your pelvis and feel the contact of the tailbone on the mat.
· At the end of exhalation, pause just before the in breath and push the heel towards the ceiling and toe towards your face. You will feel a “bite”. This will almost definitely feel very uncomfortable so don’t panic, everyone doing this stretch will be experiencing the same discomfort. Hold this position.
· You may start to feel a tingling in your toes, at this point circle the leg a few more times and gently point and flex your toe.
· Keep breathing and continuing to drop weight through the pelvis, focus on the leg lengthening. Do not push through the knee joint but focus on the bulk of the hamstring and calf and push from the front of the leg to the back.
· Repeat the circle again.
· Ease the leg across the midline of the body, towards the opposing shoulder; continue to drop weight through the pelvis.
· Bring back to centre and continue with pushing through the heel and ensuring that your pelvis is in contact with the mat. You want to feel opposition, weight dropping toward the pelvis and the heel pushing up toward the ceiling.
· Gently point the toe to the ceiling, see if you can ease the leg closer to your face, do not force the leg it will move if it wants to.
· Now ease the heel towards the ceiling one more time whilst dropping weight towards the pelvis. Hold again.
· This should take from 1 to 2 minutes to complete.
If the other knee was bent when you started, lay this leg flat on the mat. Lower the leg in the band until it is approximately one inch off the mat circle a few times one way and then the other, turn the foot in and then out. Let the band go and lay the leg down next to the other one.
Analyze how this leg now feels, does it feel longer?
Let me know!
It may not only feel longer but you may experience a difference in weight and contact, check out the position of your lower back and even your head position.
Remember to do the other side though before you stand or you might just fall over!!!!!!