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Backpacker Magazine – November 2009

Injury-Proof Your Legs

Loosen up–and stay pain-free–with resistance stretching.

by: Kristen Bjornsen, Illustrations by Supercorn

PAGE 1 2

Get onto all fours with your hips over your knees. Raise your right lower leg and press the top of the foot into a wall (or tree trunk). Bring your torso and left leg up until you're in a lunge, then slightly slant your torso forward. Contract your right quad by pressing into the wall with your right foot. Simultaneously, move hips backward to stretch the quad while it resists the motion.

Hamstrings and Glutes
Lie on your back and bend your right leg, bringing your right knee to your chest. Hold the right foot with both hands and pull it up toward your head, straightening the leg. While your hands pull your leg up, contract the hamstrings and spinal muscles to resist the movement, as if you were trying to kick your heel to your butt.

Iliotibial (IT) Band
Lie on your back, pull your left knee halfway to your chest, and put your right ankle over your left knee. Grasp the back of your left thigh with both hands. As you pull your left knee toward your chest (thus stretching your right IT band), resist the movement with your right leg. This will contract the muscle.

PAGE 1 2

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DC Tom
Aug 11, 2011

You'll have to prove to me that the IT stretch is doing anything other than twisting the hip capsule. PT's like this stretch because you can feel something. That doesn't make it useful. There are other better IT band and gluteus minimus stretches that are more effective. Remember the body adapts to the environment.

DC Tom
Aug 11, 2011

So many people hurt their knees while trying to help them. They hyperflex the knee while stretching the quads. Push the hip forward to pre-stretch the quad before bringing the foot toward the buttock. Hold gently for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10 times. The muscles adapt to the environment. Retraining should be gentle and long term.

Kyle K
Jul 23, 2010

This technique is not really new or gimmicky - many poses in yoga utilize this type of stretch, whether you realize you're doing it or not (ex. half moon - balancing on one leg contracts the muscle while you stretch into it). Yoga has helped tremendously with my knees because it gives a good combination of static stretching, resistance stretching, balance, and strengthening.

Jul 04, 2010

This is a stretching technique that a lot of physical therapists use to both stretch one side and strengthen the other side.

I have a bad knee caused by tight hamstrings which has made my vastus medius (part of the quads) weak. Doings stretches like the ones mentioned above has greatly "fixed" my problem. The traditional gentle static stretching has its merits particularly with general flexibility concerns. However, there are other stretching techniques that address more specific issues such as those that backpackers have.

Julie D
Mar 05, 2010

I disagree with the first comment as well. If a gold medalist does and finds it effective that doesn't mean it's just a gimmick or not meant for the rest of us. I'm actually insulted by that first comment. That person is basicly telling everyone else that they're incapable of doing it and shouldn't even try! Secondly, I doubt that person is a doctor or even understands the science of this stretch he is so quick to crticize. Thirdly, it doesn't even sound like tried it at all! Everyone should try what they feel would work best for them. If it's helping someone with an injured knee it might help you. Everyone is different and they need to find what WORKS for THEM. Don't let someone who didn't even try it tell you not to, because if you do you might pass on something that can really help you.

Jan 24, 2010

i disagree with this last comment and would recommend this stretching technique. i am recovering from knee injury and this stretching feels better than the older style static holding stretching

Jan 09, 2010

Just because a professional athlete does it doesn't make it right! I would strongly recommend that most average to advanced hikers should not utilize the aforementioned stretching technique, as you are likely to strain the muscle you are trying to lengthen. I would utilize this technique only if you have very minor flexibility limitations and are extremely well conditioned. Safe stretching defined: gently and routinely stretching the non-contractile tissues of muscles. Stay away from gimmicky stretching techniques unless you want to see an orthopaedic surgeon or physical therapist.


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