Using Assisted Stretching to Improve Flexibility

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Stretching is a vital component of overall health and fitness. Assisted stretching can maximize the benefits by using props or a partner to help you hold poses longer and move deeper into a stretch. Adding assisted stretch to your routine can improve flexibility faster with less risk of injury.

Benefits of Assisted Stretching

Integrating assisted stretches offers advantages over stretching alone:

Go Deeper into Stretches

The support of a prop or partner’s leverage allows you to gently extend further into muscle elongation. This expands your range of motion.

Hold Stretches Longer

Staying in a deep stretch becomes easier with assistance. This extended time under tension increases benefits.

Enhanced Relaxation

The support provided reduces effort needed to hold a pose. This enables greater relaxation and focus on the stretch.

Customized to Ability Level

The amount of assistance adjusts to your flexibility level, providing a personalized experience.

Prevent Overstretching

Assistance helps avoid pushing the stretch too far, too fast, reducing injury risk.

Improve Technique

Hands-on cues from a partner can help achieve optimal body positioning and alignment.

Adding assisted elements makes stretching more productive and enjoyable.

Best Props for Assisted Stretching

A variety of props can provide helpful assistance during stretching:

Stretching Straps

These straps allow your arms to extend further in reaches and folds. They help open up the back, shoulders and hamstrings.

Yoga Blocks

Blocks are great for lifts to reduce strain in seated or standing stretches. They also provide support in balancing poses.

Foam Rollers

For backbends, foam rollers provide support and counterpressure. They help arch the spine safely and comfortably.

Massage Balls

These firm balls placed between you and the floor, or between body parts, apply targeted pressure to maximize stretches.

Resistance Bands

Bands wrapped around specific body parts give you something to gently pull against as you stretch the opposing muscles.

Benches or Chairs

Elevated surfaces reduce strain and allow you to relax deeper into the stretch. Benches are ideal for splits or leg raises.

Experiment with props to enhance your favorite stretches.

Best Practices for Partner Assisted Stretching

If you have a trusted partner to assist with hands-on stretching, keep these tips in mind:

Communicate Comfort Levels

Talk before, during and after stretching about what feels good or if anything causes discomfort.

Start Slowly and Gently

Ease into assisted stretches gradually. Quick bouncing movements can cause injury.

Avoid Overstretching Joints

Only apply as much assistance as needed to improve extension. Do not force joints beyond their limits.

Focus on Alignment

Guide each other into proper body positions that maximize benefits and minimize strain.

Breathe Deeply

Work together to time breaths with deeper movement into the stretch. Exhale on release.

Offer Resistance

Partners can apply moderate resistance against motion to isolate target muscles.

Relax Muscles

Giving your weight over to your partner enables full relaxation into stretches.

Finish with Hug

End each assisted stretch with a hug to realign energy centers and renew connection.

Having a trusted, attentive partner enhances the positives of assisted stretching.

Best Stretches for Assistance

While any stretch can be adapted for assistance, here are some ideal for props or partners:

Forward Fold – Straps/Blocks

Standing forward folds allow straps to extend your reach and blocks to remove strain.

Splits – Blocks

Blocks provide incremental lift and support to gradually work toward splits over time.

Shoulder Extension – Partner

A partner can safely increase extension and opening of shoulder muscles.

Backbend – Roller/Partner

The counterpressure of a roller or partner’s hands helps maximize backbend arcs.

Hamstring Stretch – Strap

Straps allow you to hold an upright hamstring stretch for longer durations.

Inner Thigh Stretch – Blocks/Partner

Blocks or a partner’s shoulder offers leverage to open up inner thighs.

Butterfly Forward Fold – Partner

Have a partner press knees down to maximize hip and groin stretch.

Explore the many options for assistance with your favorite stretches. Get creative!

Sample Assisted Stretching Routines

To help you get started, here are sample 15 minute assisted stretching sequences:

Morning Routine

  • Shoulder Extension with Partner – 1 min each side
  • Strapped Forward Fold – 2 min
  • Seated Butterfly with Partner – 2 min
  • Backbend over Roller – 1 min
  • Figure Four Hamstring Prop Stretch – 1 min each leg
  • Half Splits with Blocks – 1 min each leg

Afternoon Energy Boost

  • Partner Assisted Chest Opener – 30 sec each side
  • Resistance Band Arm Stretch – 2 min
  • Massage Ball Calf Stretch – 1 min each leg
  • Seated Strapped Hamstring Stretch – 2 min
  • Supported Low Lunge – 1 min each leg
  • Supine Inner Thigh Stretch with Blocks – 2 min

Try these combinations or create your own assisted stretching routines to improve flexibility.

Benefits of Consistent Assisted Stretching

Adding frequent assisted stretching to your fitness regimen provides excellent benefits:

  • Improved mobility and range of motion
  • Increased athletic performance
  • Enhanced recovery after exercise
  • Reduced muscle soreness and injury risk
  • Better posture and body alignment
  • Decreased stress and relaxed state of mind

The support of props and partners makes assisted stretching an extremely effective, enjoyable way to increase flexibility. Incorporate assisted stretches several times a week to see major improvements in your extension and mobility over time.

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