STRETCH VARIATIONS – trying a different angle.
The majority of us at some stage in our lives have done some stretching. Whether it be at a sporting club or as directed by a health professional or friend, we all have a repertoire of stretches that we know.
One thing that a lot of people don’t consider when stretching and what we at Blackburn Osteopathy want you to ask is: What happens if I change the angle or direction of this stretch?
Some of us through the natural instincts of our bodies will vary the angles of the stretch without even thinking about it. Others though, do the same stretch over and over that they have been doing for years, without actually paying attention to the outcome or “feel” of the stretch.
With regards to movement the human body is described as moving in 3 planes.
- Sagittal plane: bending forwards/backwards or stepping forwards or backwards, etc.
- Frontal plane: bending to either side or stepping to the side, etc.
- Transverse plane: turning to the left/right or rotating feet inwards/outwards, etc.
A lot of stretches we do tend to utilise one, maybe two of these planes of motion. Most of us know that to make a hamstring stretch more effective we need to bend forward. However, not everyone would have tried this same hamstring stretch whilst rolling your foot inwards/outwards or sideward bending through the trunk at the same time.
The more you play around with the various angles in your stretching, the more likely that you will better target the specific area that most needs the stretch. This in turn should give you better value from the time you put into stretching.
There is also value in stretching in differing positions. We can stretch whilst standing, sitting, kneeling and lying down amongst other possible positions. Some of these might give you a better stretch or maybe they will just make stretching easier for you which may allow you to stretch more frequently.
If nothing else, we at Blackburn Osteopathy hope this article encourages you to experiment with your stretching and the angles and positions you are using. If you can find a stretch that really feels like it is doing something positive, you are probably more likely to keep doing it!