Fitness: Order of Stretching Is Important
If the Lower Back Is Tight, the Adapted Hurdle Stretch Has Less Effect on the Hamstrings
If the Lower Back Is Tight, the Adapted Hurdle Stretch Has Less Effect on the Hamstrings

Fitness: Order of Stretching Is Important

Dick Moss, Editor

When teaching a stretching routine, teachers and coaches often use an order of exercise that starts with the neck and moves down, or starts at the feet and moves up.

For example, in using a sequence of stretches that moves upward from the feet, you'd first stretch the feet, then the calves, then the shins, then the quadriceps, then the hamstrings etc.

The reason is simple—it's easy to remember which stretches to perform if you move sequentially up or down the body.

The Core Muscles of the Torso Should be Stretched First
The Core Muscles of the Torso Should be Stretched First

This Limits the Smaller Muscles
However, such a stretching order limits the amount of flexibility that can be developed in the smaller muscle groups. This is because movement in the smaller muscles is often limited by adjacent, larger muscle groups.

The hamstrings are a perfect example. The exercises usually used to stretch the hamstrings also involve the lower back. If the lower back is still tight when the hamstring exercise is performed, most of the stretch will be felt in the back, not the hamstrings.

A Better Exercise Sequence
It's better to start the stretching sequence from the large muscles in the body's middle (core), then work up and down to the smaller muscle groups. In other words, start with the larger core muscles then move to the smaller ones.

Here's a sample stretching order:

  1. Back and Torso   
  2. Hips and Pelvis
  3. Hamstrings
  4. Groin
  5. Quadriceps, Calves, Ankles, Feet
  6. Shoulders, Arms, Wrists, Hands
  7. Neck


References
1. Bill Foran (Project Coordinator) & Robin Pound (Associate Coordinator), Condition the NBA Way, Cadell & Davies, 1994.
2. David Nordmark, The Stretching Exercises Bible: Learn How To Stretch With Dynamic Stretching And Flexibility Exercises, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.



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