Disclaimer:

Please note that these stretches are intended to be used with professional advice from your osteopath. Using them on your own may result in your symptoms getting worse or causing further damage to the affected area. Use them at your own risk. Do keep in mind that there are more factors than just muscles which are involved with most spinal or joint problems - hence stretches cannot fix all painful issues on their own - but they are very useful for the maintenance of mobility and taking the load off joints. You are quite welcome to ask us questions about the stretches presented here, or give us suggestions for new additions.


General Instructions:

Stretches will vary according to the desired result on the muscle or tissue you would like to stretch. Most of the stretches presented here are intended for osteopathic patients attempting to recover from a particular issue. Hence the emphasis is towards a single muscle or group of muscles rather than producing complex regional stretching movements. In order to produce a 'retraining' effect on the muscles it is recommended to hold these stretches for about 30 seconds each. You only need to do them once in one sitting, but they do need to be repeated several times a day for optimum results. Changes should be seen within the first week and then gradually continue. If you want to produce a change in the passive length of the muscle it is recommended to hold them for at least 60 seconds. Similarly only one repetition is needed, but these are best done right after exercise and in general wouldn't need to be done more than twice a day. The changes in the passive elements of muscles will take much longer and will be very incremental.
In the photos below the green arrows always represent the area where you should expect to feel the stretch and the red arrows represent the direction in which movement is made.


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Standing Lunge Stretch (24)

1. Lift the opposite foot from the side you wish to stretch up onto something. Tilt your pelvis up - or if you imagine you had a tail - tuck it between your legs. Then slowly lunge forwards.
2. Make sure you are not letting your lower back extend as this will both diminish the strength of the stretch and risk injury to your lower back.
3. You should feel a stretch at the front of your hip area.
 
Kneeling Lunge Stretch (25)

1. Kneel on the opposite knee of the side you wish to stretch. If your knees are sensitive you can place a folded towel or a sponge under your knee. Tilt your pelvis up - or if you imagine you had a tail - tuck it between your legs.
2. Once your pelvis is tucked in your lower back should be straight.
3. Next - start to lunge forward slowly while maintaining a straight lower back. You should feel a stretch at the front of the hip and slightly down into the front of the thigh.
4. Make sure that at all times you are not allowing your lower back to extend.
 
Piriformis Stretch (26)

1. Sit on a firm chair and bring up the leg of the side you want to stretch. Leave a gap between your legs.
2. Interlace your fingers on the outer side of your knee and pull it across to your opposite shoulder.
3. You should feel a stretch across the back of your hip area.
4. Make sure that you are not bending any part of your back while performing this stretch.
5. An alternative way of doing this stretch is laying on your back and pulling your leg across yourself until you feel a stretch at the back of the hip area. This way does put some strain on the lower back, but as long as you have no problems in that region, it will not cause any harm.
 
Glut Stretch (27)

1. Sit on a firm chair and bring up the leg of the side you want to stretch. Try to lay the leg as flat as it can go.
2. If your gluts are tight, your leg will not be able to lay completely flat. This is normal and it will be your measure of progress over time as you continue to do the stretch. As your glut flexibility improves, your leg will lay more flat.
3. Keeping your back straight bend forward.
4. Make sure that you are not bending any part of your back while performing this stretch.
5. An alternative way of doing this stretch is laying on your back, crossing one leg across the other, gripping the opposite one of the side you wish to stretch and pulling them up together towards your chest.

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