Here you will find 10 tips for stretching to help you with exercise and injury prevention!
#1 Foam roller
The timeless foam roller isn’t exactly new technology, but sometimes it is the old classics that work the best. Using a foam roller to “roll out” after exercise can help reduce fatigue and soreness, as well as confirming your identity as an ‘elite athlete’. Favourite areas include calves and your Iliotibial band (the outside of your thigh), although the latter is not for faint hearted!
#2 Ankle rolling exercise
In a recent study, ankle injuries were shown to be the most common injury in 24 out of the 70 most popular sports, including netball, basketball and soccer. After recurrent ankle injuries, ligamentous and muscular support around the ankle is often lost. In order to help fix this, this ankle rolling exercise can help improve your muscular stability around the ankle joint.
All you need to do is stand up with your feet together, and then roll onto the outside of both feet gently, trying to control the movement as best as you can, then roll back onto the sole of your foot. The best thing about this exercise is nobody even notices you doing it!
#3 Knee pain
Are you struggling with pain around the front of your knee? It is possible that your kneecap does not track correctly when you are running, and could be rubbing against the inside of your knee. Strapping your knee can be an important aspect of treatment for this condition, and is something anybody can learn to do. If this could relate to you, then book in with one of our physiotherapists and learn how this trick can help improve your running.
#4 Tennis ball massage
Need to get a soft tissue release but don’t have the time or the money? Then a tennis ball might be the answer. A sustained pressure from a tennis ball around the gluteal muscles can help ease out any thickening or ‘knots’ that may have developed in your gluteal muscle.
All you need to do is get a tennis ball (or golf ball if you are brave) and put your weight through it whilst sitting in the ground, doing some gentle circles to get a gentle soft tissue release.
#5 Pectoral stretch
The pectoral (pec) muscles around your chest are some of the most commonly worked muscles when going to the gym, but can also be some of the tightest.
Have you ever wondered (often at music festivals) why so many of the muscular men have their shoulders further forward than their head? It’s because they forget to stretch their pecs, which can lead to shoulder, neck and back pain. A simple pectoral stretch (pictured above) held for 30 seconds can help fix this, and all you need is a door!
#6 Mid/lower back stretch
One of the most common questions we get asked about back pain is what came first, the muscle or joint stiffness? It’s a classic chicken and egg scenario, but for this stretch, it doesn’t matter!
Lying on your side, bend your knee and hip to 90° and let your knee drop to the floor in front of you. Meanwhile, try to rotate your shoulders so they are both lying flat on the ground, and you are looking upwards. You should begin to feel a nice stretch through your middle to lower back.Some lucky people also feel a small stretch in their glutes. The picture above demonstrates this, and can be held for up to 1 minute.
Did you know that squats work your quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings, calves and spinal extensors all in one exercise?
Now with that knowledge you can cut your gym time in half! Squats have been shown to help reduce lower back pain, as well as improve knee function and strength. And it’s not only physiotherapists who love squats! As Aristotle once said – “Squats … are the essence of life”
Pilates as a concept has hit the mainstream in the past decade, after being used almost exclusively by ballet dancers to help improve their strength and flexibility since the 1950s. These days most elite sport teams include it in their schedule, after the amazing pain and performance related results it has produced. Focusing on body awareness, stability and movement control, Pilates can either be performed with equipment or mat classes.
#9 Proprioception training
According to a 2013 Study, approximately 26% of all ankle sprains are non-contact ankle sprains, meaning that it was likely that balance played some part in the rolling of the ankle.
Balance includes more than just the ability to stay standing, it also involves the awareness of where your ankle is relative to the ground, or proprioception. After recurrent ankle sprains, this proprioception is often lost which is a risk factor for further ankle sprains.
To help fix this, balancing single leg on a pillow at home during the ad breaks of the TV can help retrain your balance. If this is too easy, then try closing your eyes for an extra challenge.
#10 Upper trapezius stretch
Being in the Corporate Cup can be stressful, especially when you are trying to beat the staff from level 6 with their gun long distance runner. This kind of stress coupled with spending a long time at the computer can lead to a tightening of your neck muscles.
A classic sign of this happening is when at the end of the day you notice your shoulders are up near your ears. One of the muscles associated with this is the Upper Trapezius muscle, and this easy stretch will help reduce some of that tension.
To stretch the left side, put your right ear down to your right shoulder, bending sideways. Then rotate your head as if you are looking upwards and to the left.
In this position put your chin down towards your chest and magic! You should be able to feel a stretch on the left side of your neck.