Saturday, January 7, 2012

4 Effective Stretches for Hip Injuries

Hip injuries can occur from overuse or from traumatic accidents. Injuries usually occur either to the muscles at the top of the thigh, the hip flexors, to the muscles and ligaments surrounding the hip joint, or to the hip abductors located behind your hip. Your doctor can pinpoint the best treatment for your specific injury. Stretching to ease pain and to increase flexibility will undoubtedly be part of the rehabilitation process.
Passive Stretching
You are probably familiar with passive or static stretching. It involves reaching a point of mild tension, not pain, staying in that position for 10 to 15 seconds without bouncing, and releasing. Bob Anderson, author of "Stretching," discusses developmental stretching for a second period of 10 to 15 seconds. This stretch involves reaching a fraction of an inch more after your body has relaxed into the original stretch. Anderson cautions that the tension should still be only mild. Complete all stretching exercises on both sides of your body.
PNF Stretching
PNF, or "procrioceptive neuromuscular facilitation," uses a contract-and-relax technique to increase normal range of motion in the injured area. It is, in effect, an isometric contraction, where you use your body's own resistance to contract, stretch and relax the muscles.
For your hip, Anderson recommends lying on your back with one knee raised perpendicular to the floor. Cross your other leg over your knee and pull your leg toward your chest by clasping behind your bent knee with your hands. Hold the position for 15 to 20 seconds. Move your crossed leg downward for four to five seconds as you resist the movement from your arms. Then relax and stretch again as in the initial 15 to 20 seconds.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Begin the hip flexor stretch on your back with your toes pointed up toward the ceiling. Slide your left foot back, alongside your right knee, keeping your foot flat on the floor. Keep your right leg on the ground, your shoulders and back on the floor and your back relaxed and not arched. Place your hands behind your left thigh and pull it gently toward your chest until you feel mild tension. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and slowly lower your leg.
Triangle Bends
Stand with your feet somewhat wider than hip-width apart, placing your left foot pointing forward and your right foot pointed to the side. Pull in your tummy, straighten your back and hold your head level.
Raise your left arm up, palm turned in, keeping your shoulder down and lifting only with your arm. Drop your right shoulder, sliding your right hand down your leg toward the floor. Do not brace yourself with the hand; maintain a light touch. Keep reaching with your left arm as you bend sideways from the waist, allowing your body weight to gently lengthen the stretch. Keep your abdomen pulled in and your head aligned with your spine. Hold for 30 seconds, stand up and lower your arm.

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