Many men struggle with inflexibility and diminished joint range of motion, especially as they age, and stretching is often the most poorly performed component of their exercise programs. You can help male participants to develop an effective active-stretching program by incorporating continuously looped resistance bands into your cool-down. Using this approach may help men with overtight hips to restore agility, strength, power and balance.
Keep the following principles in mind when you cue form:
- Apply a gradual force that safely takes muscles beyond structural tightness but not anatomical tightness.
- Contract the opposing muscle while you stretch.
- Aim for dynamic, short-duration stretching.
When used properly, continuously looped resistance bands
- provide a controlled and gradual force that takes the muscle deeper into the restricted range of motion;
- create a counterforce for muscles to push against, generating relaxation and lengthening; and
- offer greater control over stretching duration.
Incorporate the following hip stretches into your next cool-down to help male participants recover the flexibility—and thus power, strength and athleticism—they may have lost over the years.
- From supine, place right (R) foot firmly against wall, knee straight (keep this contact throughout).
- Loop band around left (L) foot and, with L hip flexed at 90 degrees, grasp band 2 inches from L foot.
- Pull band and foot toward R shoulder while allowing L knee to bend, feeling strong stretch in L glute; hold 2–3 seconds before releasing.
- Repeat multiple times for 1 minute, bringing L foot closer to R shoulder with each rep. Do not allow R knee to bend.
- Switch sides.
- Wrap band firmly and securely over arch of L foot.
- Grasp band approximately 6–8 inches from L foot while placing R foot firmly against wall, R knee fully straightened. Keep it straightened throughout movement.
- With elbows on floor at shoulder height, press L heel toward ceiling, straightening L knee as much as possible.
- Perform rhythmical repetitions, straightening L knee and flexing L hip more with each rep while preventing R knee from flexing.
- Between reps, bend L knee just enough so that stretch tension is taken off L hamstring.
- Switch sides.
Anterior Hip and Thigh
To optimally stretch anterior hip and thigh, actively engage opposite hamstring to avoid compensation. Also, engage core to avoid arching in low back.
- Wrap band around R foot and lie on R side.
To watch the author demonstrate these stretches, see www.ideafit.com/stretching-for-men. For more information, please see “Stretching That Works for Men” in the online IDEA Library or in the October 2014 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.
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