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Simple Ways to Improve Your Stretching

July 24, 2002 09:00 AM

First off, I just want to say that I used to be incredibly stiff. After some stretching, I am now on my way to nearly pliable. In my quest to defeat my Al Gore syndrome I have devised a few clever ways to improve my stretches using simple tools.

Using a Flex Band to Increase Your Standing Toe Touch

I showed this technique to Pavel when he visited Seattle recently for a stretching seminar. He seemed to like it, so I thought I would pass it along. To do this technique, simply take a flex band or a bungee cord and drape it over a doorknob or anything else that is an appreciable distance above where your hands will end up in the final position of the toe touch. Now reach down and grab the two ends of the band and with your arms locked out, reach towards your toes with clenched fists. The band will provide resistance against your downward movement. Fight this by powerfully contracting your abs. Power breathing can be good here, especially if you are looking for a new abdominal exercise. The increased recruitment in your abs will help relax the muscles in your posterior chain. Hold for a few seconds at the bottom, with a fair amount of tension in your abs. When you're done, dip your knees under and come back up. On your next set of normal standing toe touches, simply relax your way into an increased stretch. If the standard toe touch bothers your back, this is a great alternative. The band will support your weight, so your back muscles will not be loaded. I find it very therapeutic. Additionally, you can apply the 'Pink Panther' principle from Super Joints if you would like to add a few more inches. Either let go of the band or quickly bend your arms. Also, try this stretch between sets of the hanging leg raise and you should experience an increase in your ROM.

Using Stairs for Better Leverage in the Seated Groin Stretch

The problem I have with the Seated Groin Stretch from Relax into Stretch is that I am not flexible enough to make it effective. I conquered this in two ways. First, I used a flex band to help pull myself forward in order to load my inner thighs with tension. However, I found a simpler method of doing this. Just sit on the first step of some stairs and start the seated groin stretch. You should now find it easier to lean farther forward because you have better leverage. This will cause greater tension in you adductors. Now sit back, relax and push the walls apart. Repeat the procedure a few times and then try it on the floor if you wish and check out your improvement. Sitting on the step also makes it easier to relax between contractions. For additional safety, pull up your kneecaps as Pavel has recommended before.

Tyler Hass is the founder of the Seattle Kettlebell Club,