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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Adductor Stretch (28)

1. Stand with your legs apart but straight. Tilt the hip of the side you would like to stretch in.
2. Slowly start to bring your weight onto the opposite leg of the one you are aiming to stretch and begin to bend the knee until you feel a stretch along the inside of your leg.
3. You can make the stretch slightly stronger if you turn your pelvis away from the leg you are stretching.
 
Hamstring Stretch (29)

1. Place the foot of the side you wish to stretch onto a chair. Keep the knee slightly bent.
2. Keeping your lower back straight, bend forward towards your leg until you feel a stretch in the hamstring area.
3. If you need to increase the strength of the stretch, gradually begin to straighten the knee. Or if you would like to stretch all elements of the back of your whole leg, start the stretch with a straight leg instead of flexing your knee.
4. Make sure that at all times you are not allowing your lower back to bend as it will put a strain through your lower back as well as decreasing the effectiveness of the stretch.
 
Quad Stretch (30)

1. Bring the leg you wish to stretch up behind your buttocks and grip your foot.
2. Tuck your pelvis up - or if you imagine you had a tail tuck it between your legs - this will decrease the amount of bend you have to put through your knee in order to feel the stretch. Thus if you have knee problems you are still able to do this stretch in this fashion. At the same time gradually begin to pull your knee backwards while keeping your lower back straight and you should feel a stretch at the front of your thigh.
3. Make sure that at all times you are not allowing your lower back to extend.
4. You can also grip your foot with your opposite hand. All the other steps are exactly the same. This variation will focus the stretch to the outside quad and on your ITB to an extent.
 
Calf Stretch (31)

1. Place your foot on the edge of something such as a step on a staircase, roadside kerb, a brick, a copy of the yellow pages, etc.
2. Begin to bring your hip forwards, towards your foot while keeping your knee straight. You will feel a stretch through your calf.
3. Make sure that you are not leaving your hip behind and just bringing your shoulders forward. This will strain your lower back or mid back and decrease the effectiveness of the stretch.
 
'Shin' Stretch (32)

  1. Bring the leg you wish to stretch up.

  2. Grip your toes and pull them towards yourself.

  3. At the same time pull your foot up towards your head.

  4. You should feel a stretch along the front of your lower leg next to your shin.

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