As we get into the season, we have to think about muscles that are very important to lateral movement and balance. There are a total of 6 and all of them take some of the responsibility for moving your legs together and most of them have other functions as well such as rotation.
As we get more specific with stretching, the proper angles become much more critical. When stretching this group of muscles, it is important to keep your toes pointed toward the ceiling or slightly turned in toward your midline. The natural tendency with this stretch is to turn your foot away from your body (externally rotated) which will then emphasize the hamstrings.
Basic Principles of Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)
- Contract the apposing 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.
The photos below will show how a service provider would guide you through this stretch and how you would do it on your own.
When guiding a client through this stretch I support the knee and position my other hand cupping the heel from the outside (lateral side). Supporting the leg in this manner maintains the proper position to prevent the leg from turning out (external rotation).
When doing stretch on your own it is suggested you have stretching strap or rope at least 8 feet long . if you look closely at the photos you will see the strap is looped around the foot then both ends are brought across the inside of the ankle. Then the strap is placed in the outside hand. After you contract the muscles on the outside of your hip (abductors) then pull on the strap to add additional stretch on the inside of your leg (adductors). (All stretches should be done 8-10 times.)