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.
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.
Assistance helps avoid pushing the stretch too far, too fast, reducing injury risk.
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:
These straps allow your arms to extend further in reaches and folds. They help open up the back, shoulders and hamstrings.
Blocks are great for lifts to reduce strain in seated or standing stretches. They also provide support in balancing poses.
For backbends, foam rollers provide support and counterpressure. They help arch the spine safely and comfortably.
These firm balls placed between you and the floor, or between body parts, apply targeted pressure to maximize stretches.
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.
Work together to time breaths with deeper movement into the stretch. Exhale on release.
Partners can apply moderate resistance against motion to isolate target 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:
- 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.