Day: February 10, 2012

Stretching 102 Video: How to Target Your Calves, Inner & Outer Thighs and Large Hip Muscles

This video of a three-part series addresses different stretch techniques including: static, active, dynamic and resistance stretching by demonstrating some basic stretches for the calves, inner/outer thighs and large hip muscles.

When assessing when a certain stretch technique should be used, there is no right or wrong answer; however, here is what I recommend to my clients.

Static stretching should be done once a muscle is thoroughly warmed up. I recommend it primarily after your resistance workout following a cool down. If you decide to static stretch before a workout, make sure you do a long warm up prior.

Active stretching can also be done before a workout after a warm up, or in place of one. This technique is used a lot with team sports and group fitness. It’s a great and safe way to get multiple muscles firing and create length in muscles that are tight before beginning a work out. I also use it with clients to reinforce proper movement patterns before adding weight to them, and with some clients this can be used as a workout itself.

Dynamic stretching can also be included as a warm up if you are outside doing a sport. I recommend at least a small warm up (walk/jog) before attempting these moves. Ballistic movements have a higher risk of injury, but also can produce good lubrication in the joints in multiple planes of motion. These stretches also mimick the natural plyometric movements of the body, so it is good preparation before a sport.

Resistance (Ki-Hara) stretching is fairly new. It has a medicinal benefit in that it allows you to stretch more of the muscle belly versus the tendons. Stretching the tendon is typical if you have a very short, impeded movement pattern. Professional athletes, like Dara Torres, use it regularly. It would be best after a workout, or on a day you aren’t working out because you will have increased blood flow to the muscle.

– PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) and basic assisted stretching are done with a trainer. PNF is along the same principles as resistance stretching only you squeeze the opposing muscle group isometrically, which shuts off (inhibits) the target muscle from resisting the stretch, and then relax as you are assisted into the stretch. During assisted stretching you can squeeze the target muscle in an isometric contraction to push blood into it, and then follow it with a relaxation during the stretch. These techniques I am more than happy to give you an introduction to if you would like further details.