Health Tips and Exercises

I.T. Band Stretch

October 3rd, 2012

The Iliotibial Band (I.T. Band) is basically a very long muscle tendon. The is a tiny muscle that starts at the top of your pelvis on the outer tip bilaterally (both sides) called Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) that connects or turns into the I.T. Band within a few inches. The I.T. Band then runs all the way down the outside of your thigh, crosses the knee joint and attatches to the lateral epicondyle of your tibia (the bony protrusion just under your knee on the outside.) When it becomes tight, the I.T. Band can cause a variety of issues because of it’s length and because it crosses multiple joints. Most common though it’s described as pain just below or above the knee

The I.T. Band’s position makes it tricky to stretch; because it stabalizes the outside of the leg we have to swing the leg inside behind or infront of the other leg to stretch it. One effective way to accomplish this is to first find a couch or bed you feel comfortable laying on the edge of, facing off of it. Next, you want to hang the top leg off the couch/bed, while leaving the other one straight along the edge under you. Then it’s a matter of letting gravity put a stretch on it for you. It may take a couple of minutes to even feel the stretch, but as long as you relax your leg and let it sag down this stretch will be very effective.

Glute Stretch

October 3rd, 2012

If you’re experiencing low back pain and/or upper thigh/hip pain then you may have tension in your glute muscles (buttocks). The muscles in this area consist of the three glutes each named for their size: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. Another common muscle affected in this area is Piriformis and is often the culprit in conditions affecting the Sciatic Nerve causing pain down the back of the leg.

An effective way to help reduce tension in this area at home is by using this simple stretch. You want to start by sitting cross-legged on the floor (alternatively you can sit on a chair and just place the leg of the side you wish to stretch up on the knee

 of the opposite leg, with the opposite leg’s foot on the floor.) Second, clasp your hands around the knee of the side you wish to stretch. Next, you want to gradually pull the knee toward you, while sitting upright, until you feel the stretch in your glutes. When you reach the point of an effective stretch, simply hold it in place for 1-3 minutes. After which you can ease back out of the stretch and repeat on the other side.

As always, you want to avoid yanking your knee toward you or pulling it into too much of a stretch. This could end up hurting you more than it helps.

Calves Stretch

March 24th, 2010

If you’re on your feet a lot, have pains in the back of your leg, or enjoy running/cycling this is a simple and effective stretch that will help increase the muscle length in the affected area.

Simply place the pad of your foot (the area right before your toes) against a wall or bottom step and lean your torso and leg in towards the wall while keeping your knee straight and keeping your balance with a hand on the wall or railing. Ease into it, and once you start to feel a pulling in the back of your leg hold that position for 30-60 seconds or, ideally, until you no longer feel the stretch. This means that the muscles have now relaxed to that position.

This is great as part of your pre-work/exercise warm-up, and even better after the fact to keep your calves from cramping up after.