What does a one leg stretch exercise do?
The one leg stretch exercise is designed to challenge the body’s lumbo-pelvic control with leg movement, which is closely related to walking. This exercise also engages the body’s anterior oblique sling (consisting of the internal and external oblique muscles) which is important to maintain stability at the pelvis on activities such as walking.
Adding the abdominal prep position to this movement also helps to build the strength and endurance of the abdominal muscles through a sustained contraction. The progression of this exercise involves reciprocal leg movement which challenges a high level of lumbo-pelvic control, which is important for runners and sportspeople.
Video: How to do a one leg stretch:
This exercise can be done at a variety of levels, see our video demonstrating this exercise. It is always important to work at a level that suits you and your ability and strength. Below describes the progressions of a One Leg Stretch Exercise:
Single Tabletop Position
Lying on your back with your knees bent approximately 90 degrees. Float the left leg into the tabletop position. As you exhale extend the left leg forwards in a diagonal line – fully extending the knee and extend the hip approximately 45 degrees. As you inhale bring the leg back to the tabletop position. Then lower the leg to the mat and repeat on the right side.
Double Tabletop Position
Lying on your back with your knees bent approximately 90 degrees. Float both legs into the double tabletop position one at a time, keep your arms rested down by your side. As you exhale extend the left leg forwards in a diagonal line – fully extending the knee and extend the hip approximately 45 degrees. As you inhale bring the leg back to the tabletop position. Repeat alternating legs.
Double Tabletop maintaining Abdo Prep Position
As above description in double tabletop. Place one hand on your knee and the other hand to the side of your knee. Then rising into an abdo prep position, maintain this abdo prep positon throughout. As you exhale extend the left leg forwards in a diagonal line. Continue to alternate extending the legs, at the same time switching your hands to the bent knee, inhaling for two alternating leg movements and exhaling for two alternating movements. The speed of the leg movement is increased at this level.
If this feels too much strain on your neck then you can either lower the head from abdo prep position when required or support your head with your hands
lifting up forwards into an abdo prep position, again lowering your head when you need to rest.
- Make sure you are maintaining a neutral spine position throughout this exercise. Ensure your pelvis is not tilting forwards or backwards as you are extending your leg. Try to imagine your pelvis is stuck in a block of cement to prevent it swinging sideways.
- If you are finding your hip is ‘clicking’ as you are extending your leg, try using a resistance band around your foot and push against this as you extend the leg. This can help to change the muscle patterning and engage your glute muscles.
- If you are in the abdo prep position try to keep your eyes focused on your knees.
- Watch for excessive upper body movement when arm movements are added
Avoid Doing a one leg Stretch if:
- If you have acute low back pain or sacroiliac pain
- Be careful if you have any neural leg symptoms that may be aggravated by this exercise
If you are unsure whether this exercise is suitable for you, you should always seek professional medical advice
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