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The content below is not meant to replace assessments and diagnoses from trained medical professionals. The content being shared is a visual resource that compliments custom home programs created by certified athletic therapist, Melissa Deonaraine CAT(C), for patients whom she has physically assessed and treated in clinic. Always check with your medical provider before trying content found on the internet is safe for you to try. 

Disclaimer

Groin & Hip

24 Ways to Use a Stretching Strap with Loops

I used to think these stretching straps were silly and not worth my time. I was wrong. Patients appreciate me sharing how to use this therapy tool in the clinic, especially when I show them how simple and easy it is to use this device. You can try a regular rope or yoga strap if you don't have this stretching strap with 12 loops but keep in mind that you won't be able to let your body relax since you're activating other muscle groups to perform these stretches. 

Hip Adductor Stretches

Muscles that are weak tend to have scar tissue which limits mobility (decreased range of motion). Stretching muscles helps by lengthening muscles. If you strengthen the muscles too soon, you may not have the gains you expected from your exercise program. Athletic therapists have many aspects to balance when it comes to injury rehab based on your current injury status, upcoming competition / travel, other limitations, etc. 

Option #1

Option #2

Hamstring Stretches

Since the hamstrings attach on the "sits bone" of your pelvis (think boney part of your buttocks), back and hip pain are affected by hamstring tightness. 

 

Random but interesting; males tends to overuse their hamstrings whereas females rely more on their quadriceps when active. 

Option #1

Option #2

Tail In & Tail Out

The way I prefer to work with patients is focusing on just the pelvis. Too often I observe an individual moving too many joints and/or muscle groups just to perform the requested stretch or exercise. 

This is not cat/camel. 

If you have issues weight-bearing on your knees, it's best to skip this technique and move on to the video below. 

Assisted Pelvic Mobilization

My job as an athletic therapist is to help my patients learn how to be independent and manage their own body care (unless something has happened that they can't take care of themselves). 

Mobilization in simple terms is helping to restore mobility and increased range of motion in an area / joint. If your pelvis is stiff  (hypomobile, decreased mobility, decreased range of motion) then how can your body properly setup in optimal positions for strengthening exercises to make gains from your hard work? It means that poor flexibility may affect how long it takes to get better from your injury, etc. When patients advise me they're struggling, I ask where they're feeling restricted to assess if this is something I intervene with manual therapy, possibly other modalities or is this something that the patient can tackle with what I teach them to do in that situation. 

TFL "Pretzel" Stretch

Don't worry if you're not able to move the full range for this stretch. Proper body positioning is way more important than forcing your body to get to the end of the stretch. If you're not sure if you're doing a stretch or exercise properly, reset and start over. 

Standing ITB Stretch

The iliotibial band is found on the outside of your thigh. Tightness in your hips may with tight outer thigh musculature. This is a good stretch to include in  your warm-up or cool down if you're doing cardio.

Glutes Stretches

If you have limited mobility in your hips and experience low back pain, you likely need to stretch your hips (just like your hamstrings and other surrounding hip musculature. 

Option #1

Option #2

Piriformis Stretches

Option 1 - great to do while stuck in a waiting room. If you have a really long wait for a doctor's appointment, I find stretching distracts you from feeling annoyed or frustrated plus it gives you a nice break from your cell phone. 

Option 2 - use for a deeper and more intense stretch. It could also be used at  field of play if you're outside with no support to sit on or the ground is wet. 

Option #1

Option #2

Side-Lying Quad Stretch

This exercise is good for individuals who have limited mobility or unstable when standing. Remember that this stretch isn't about who can be the most "bendy." If you perform any stretch properly, you likely wouldn't have to move as much for the average individuals to feel the stretch. 

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretches

You'll see athletic individuals performing this stretch during warm-ups, especially option 2 for a dynamic stretch used after their initial warm-up. 

Option #1

Option #2

Hip Flexor Stretch with Exercise Ball

So this is a dynamic stretch that adds an element of instability from the exercise ball. I would advise that this stretch is only attempted when the individual performing had good body awareness and feels comfortable using an unstable apparatus. 

Poor posture will not result in feeling a stretch.

Standing Quadriceps Stretches

Hope you've caught onto the theme with all these quad (front thigh) stretches requiring you to bend your knee. The reason why I have so many variations is to provide my patients / athletes with options should something not work well for them or they're unable to position themselves to perform the requested technique. Another thing to consider is if you get used to the stretches you do all the time that they aren't as effective as they were when you initially did them. That's okay. Things will change with your body as time passes. It's good that you're making the effort. However, if you're not getting the gains you expected, maybe change up what you're doing. This is where my job as an athletic therapist is important because I'm here to guide patients when they're stuck or feeling flustered. 

Option #1

Option #2

Lower Body Massage with Foam Roller

There was a period of time when everyone was big into foam rollers. Don't get me wrong, they are great however I would advise that anyone with shoulder or upper body injuries stay away from this rehab tool. The foam roller requires the user to support their body weight with their upper body. Something like the rolling stick would be less stressful for those individuals with upper body concerns.

Back to memory lane, remember the rumble roller? It was a sign of being "hardcore" if you could handle those dense, protruding inserts on the very firm roller. If that's your thing, enjoy. Just remember that forcing the tissues to relax won't help. Use within moderation to not end up being bruised. 

Lower Body Self-Massage with Rolling Stick

Rolling sticks are helpful with body care whether it's with for injury recovery or maintenance. This device can be used actively by an individual or passively with the athletic therapist using the stick to prep the area before treatment. 

 

Not all rolling sticks are created equal. My preference is the Intracell Rolling Stick because it has different firmness depending on your body type and activity, individual rollers with a flexible bar makes contact with more surface area that's comfortable. 

Athletic individuals can use the rolling stick dynamically to help them get ready for physical activity. 

I was at an international event when I asked the therapist with the aquatics team, why did they prefer the Tiger Tail stick instead of the Intracell rolling stick? He shared with me that his leg hairs got caught in the latter. 

There's a win for anyone who shaves their legs! If you want to use a rolling stick that have individual rollers but have a lot of body hair, try rolling the stick on top of your clothing instead of directly against your skin. 

Trigger Points

There are lots of therapy tools you can use to get pain relief. Trigger point balls are helpful but can be intense depending on how much pain you're currently experiencing.

 

Focus on your breathing to help you get through intense moments using a trigger point ball. The type of ball you use can also affect the outcome (i.e.. lacrosse ball may can cause bruising from being too firm). 

 

There's no need to roll around with the ball. Let your body relax and stay still so the trigger point technique can be effective.  

Seated Technique

Floor Technique

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