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Do Anywhere Workout – Lower Body Stretching Strap Routine

stretching strap

By: Kate Zanoni, LPTA

School is out, pools are open, vacations are booked… Summer is here! But as schedules get busy, it can be tough to keep fitness towards the top of you priority list. It’s why Loudoun Sports Therapy Center is giving you a series of ‘Do Anywhere Workouts’ you can perform anywhere without special equipment or a gym. Kate Zanoni is taking you through a stretching strap workout for the lower body.

Keep in mind, you don’t need a fancy stretching strap. Some other things that will suffice are:

  • belt
  • dog leash
  • scarf
  • towel

For all of these stretches, you will be seated on the floor, a couch, a bed or an exercise table, whatever is comfortable and available for you.

Gastrocnemius Stretch:

The gastrocnemius is your calf’s largest muscle. That muscle crosses your knee joint so to isolate that muscle out, it’s important to keep your knee straight while performing this stretch. Loop your strap around your foot and gently pull back towards your body. You should feel the stretch in the back of the calf. Hold for 20 seconds and perform 3 sets. 

stretching strap

Our muscles are like rubber bands and if you don’t hold your stretch for at least 20 seconds, that muscle is going to snap right back.

Soleus Stretch:

Your soleus is your second layer of calf muscles.  It does not cross your knee joint so to isolate that muscle out, you want a slight bend in your knee. Place your strap slightly higher up your foot so it’s right on the ball of my foot. This creates more leverage as you gently pull back towards your body. Because the soleus is a deeper muscle, you might have to play around with finding that sweet spot to where you feel a good stretch. Hold for at least 20 seconds and do 3 repetitions for each stretch.

stretching strap

Hamstring Stretch:

Your hamstrings start at your sit bones, come all the way down the back of your leg and they do cross your knee joint.  It’s important to keep your knee straight when performing this stretch. Loop your strap around your foot, lay all the way back making sure your knee stays straight. Gently pull your toe towards you so that you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold that position for 20 seconds and perform three repetitions. If you want a little more of a deeper stretch and you don’t have any lower back issues, you can straighten out your opposite leg and it just intensifies the stretch. If you do have lower back pain, keep your opposite leg bent to help your lower back.

stretching strap

Hip Adductor Stretch:

This stretch can be done form the same position as your hamstring stretch. Your hip adductors run along the inside of your thigh. You have 5 different muscles that attach to your pelvic bone and come all the way down and so cross the knee joint. These muscles vary in size so you want to make sure that you’re isolating out all 5 of them. Laying all the way down, position the strap around your foot and straighten your knee. Gently pull the leg out to the side so you feel a stretch on the inside of your thigh. Hold for that position for 20 seconds and repeat three times. If you don’t have any lower back issues and you want to intensify that stretch, you can bring your opposite leg down.  Just make sure that you’re keeping your lower body straight and then you’re not bringing your body to one side or the other.

stretching strap

IT Band Stretch:

From this same position, another stretch you can perform is for your IT band. Your IT band attaches to a small muscle in your hip called your tensor fasciae latae or your TFL.  That muscle has a tendency to overwork when we have weakness in other parts of our hip. Since our IT band attaches to it, the IT band tends to get tight. It’s very common in runners to have lots of lateral knee pain or hip pain. The IT band attaches to that small muscle in your hip, runs all the way down and crosses that knee joint. To get that full stretch, make sure that you’re keeping that knee straight, your gonna pull back first, get a little bit of a hamstring stretch and then I’m going to pull across my body so I feel the stretch on the outside of the leg. Hold for 20 seconds and do 3 reps.

stretching strap

Complete all these stretches om both sides.  If you have any questions about these stretches or want to learn more about how physical therapy can help you, call our office today at 703-450-4300 and schedule a one-on-one evaluation and start your journey to pain-free living.

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