A good workout buddy can motivate you to get to the gym, spot you in the weight room, and even push you to a more effective stretch.
That’s right—a technique called contract-relax stretching improves flexibility more than merely holding a toe-touch or quad pull. To do it, you contract each muscle immediately before lengthening it. Experts believe this alters brain signals in a way that allows additional lengthening.
The only problem: A partner must provide the resistance, leaving solo exercisers out of luck. Until now. A recent study found an elastic band similar to the TheraBand CLX works just as well for contract-relax stretching. By pushing against the resistance of the band before lengthening, participants increased hip flexibility just as much as when stretching in pairs.
Try this CLX move to loosen your hamstrings. You can also use it to stretch your quads, calves, and Achilles tendon.
- Lie on your stomach with the foot of your stretching leg through the middle Easy Grip Loop.
- Allow that knee to bend as you reach over that same shoulder to grasp the ends of the CLX with the same-side hand.
- Keeping your hips flat on the ground, push your foot down into the resistance of the strap, as though attempting to straighten your leg. Hold this contraction for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Breathe out, release the contraction, and pull the CLX further over your shoulder, pulling your heel toward your buttocks to stretch your quads. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
*Do not exceed 300% elongation. Some exercises may require longer lengths of CLX.