Over the past 2 newsletters we have been looking at the hips/pelvic girdle and some of the primary muscles and how to stretch them. We will now be looking at several muscles on the outside of the hip (lateral side of the femur). Some of these soft tissue attachments travel from the hip and crosses the knee. One specifically we will be focusing on is a long tendinis like structure (fascial tissue) called the IT band. In order to stretch this tendon, the leg you are stretching must have a locked knee and the movement must come from the hip.
Basic Principles of Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)
- Contract the opposing muscle to send a signal to let go to the muscle you want to stretch
- In order to increase the stretch, apply light pressure at the end of range of motion and hold for 2 seconds
- Allow the muscle to relax into a neutral position after each repetition
Some joints and or muscles that have a lack of function need increased oxygen and blood flow. When you contract or stretch a muscle, you push the blood and oxygen out of that tissue. Increased flow happens when the muscle is in a relaxed state. The benefit of physical activity is in the recovery process. Each stretch should be done 8-10 times.
When assisting a client in this stretch, they will be face up (supine) in the middle of the table. Then they will move both legs over to one side of the table with the outside leg being the one we will stretch. Now to start the stretch, the lateral leg will the lifted by the client and with keeping the knee locked, the leg will be moved toward the client’s midline. Then the provider will maintain the proper angles to isolate the intended muscle to be stretched. For this stretch, the leg is slightly externally rotated and the toes should be pointed toward the ceiling.
Movement with compensation is better than not moving/stretching at all. Whenever you move your leg across the midline of your body, you will get rotation from the lower back but if you can take the uninvolved leg and move it across the midline of your body it will help in minimizing the rolling of your trunk. While laying on your back, loop the stretching strap over your foot and take the two ends of the strap and wrap them around your ankle and pull them through on the inside of your leg. Now you will be holding both ends in your outside hand as you lift your outside leg and start to move it over the neutral leg and you can use the strap for an added stretch. Remember to keep your toes pointed toward the ceiling.