While some participants don’t stick around for the cool-down, those who do are rewarded with the many benefits that stretching offers. Help students go a little deeper with a very simple yet versatile tool: a stretching strap.
Straps are great to have in your fitness toolbox (and relatively inexpensive for the program manager’s budget). They not only assist with proper positioning and numerous techniques but also nullify the “I’m not flexible enough” excuse.
Before we get to the stretches, consider these options:
- For dynamic stretching—which assists with muscle and joint alignment and is a great way to prepare and release a particular part of the body—hold or anchor the strap, and move the body through a range of moderate, targeted movements. Slowly increase intensity and speed.
- Vary position by going from standing to the floor, for example, or by adding internal and external rotation. Revisit positions more than once in a progression, or stretch 2–5 times for optimal effect.
- Hold the strap ends across a muscle group and compress. Move up and down with increased pressure. While compressing, oscillate back and forth to increase circulation and reduce tension.
- Help inflexible participants by introducing the “static and relax” technique: Support a body part with the strap, minimize stress to other areas, and breathe deeply.
- Work functionally through a range of motion. While supporting an area of the body with the strap, rotate and add a minimal amount of pressure. Keep movements small at first, then go larger (reverse direction, too), unilaterally or bilaterally, depending on the exercise.
- From a seated or standing position, hold the strap very wide, one end in each hand, both arms down, on the outside of the thighs. Keep arms straight; do not lock elbows.
- Pull the strap apart slightly and raise arms up and overhead, ending with arms behind the lower back.
- Do not allow the body to waiver or squirm during rotation; maintain great upper-body posture.
- Ensure that the strap moves evenly on both sides. This should be challenging, not painful.
- Regression: Widen grip. Progression: Shorten grip.
- Lie supine, legs fully extended.
- Place strap around the right arch, leg straight. Keep tension in the strap, and lift the leg.
- Make small circles, then progress to making larger circles, moving slowly.
- Bend the knee, if needed, when moving across the front of the body. The back can come off the floor slightly for comfort.
- Reverse direction; switch sides.
- Begin seated, legs fully extended.
- Pull the body forward to stretch the hamstring.
- Lean back with good posture, and lift the right leg, keeping it fairly straight while anchoring the left leg.
- Drive heel to ceiling, butt to ground.
- Lie down, and pull the right leg toward your chest, pressing the right foot into the strap and keeping the left leg anchored.
- To enhance the stretch, engage the quadriceps, or externally and internally rotate the right leg from the hip.
- Switch sides.
About the Author
Aileen Sheron IDEA Author/Presenter
An innovator and fitness entrepreneur since 1979, Aileen Sheron has starred in over thirty exercise videos and has been featured on TV, radio, and in print as a fitness expert. An international presenter and continuing education provider for over 26 years, she is the inventor of the patented OmniBall®, as well as other products, and consults on product and program development. Certifications: ACE and AFAA.
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