Sunday, November 20, 2011 by Linda Hardcastle
Stretching your lower extremities – what is the best way to do it? There certainly are a lot of good stretches out there – but I want to tell you about a little tool which packs a punch when it comes to stretching the hamstrings, gastrocnemius (calf) and achilles tendon. This little plastic rehab tool is called the Unilateral ProStretch ($41.99 at BGI Fitness).
Envision your left foot standing on a small plastic piece which rocks back and forth. Standing straight and tall, and touching the wall in front of you for balance, let your left heel rock backwards. Now lean slightly forward and hold this position for 30 seconds. Do you feel that stretch coursing down your calf muscle? But don’t stop here! Rotate your hips to the right and and then to the left, and you will feel the targeted fibers shift to the medial and lateral aspect of the calf as well. Repeat with the right foot.
Now start over again with the left foot, but this time, let your left knee bend slightly. Wow! The stretch slides lower down your leg into the achilles tendon area. Lots of runners suffer from achilles tendonitis, and this is a great way to stretch out that tight area.
Once again, finish up with a left and right rotation of the hip. This sinks the stretch even further down the achilles tendon and into the plantar fascia, which runs along the bottom of the foot. (Your plantar fascia attaches at the heel and runs along the bottom of your arch up towards the ball of the foot). A tight fascia can lead to plantar fasciitis and heel pain.
I was thrilled getting such a great stretch of these two areas, so was pleasantly surprised to learn that the ProStretch also provides a good stretch of the hamstrings. Keeping your left foot in the ProStretch, extend your right foot one large step backward. Bend your left knee slightly and drop your left heel to the floor. Keeping your back straight and your head up, slowly extend your chest forward. As always, hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds.
BGI Fitness wants to help you with your stretching needs and injury prevention. The next time you are at Bicycle Garage Indy and BGI Fitness, check out our complete selction of Flexibility and Therapeutic accessories, including the ProStretch and SPRI Foam Rollers.