Vivian Grisogono


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Benefits: Stretches all the front-thigh muscles, including those which cross the front of the hip.
In the prone-lying position (front-lying, lying on your stomach), the hip joint is fixed in a neutral position, so the longer front-thigh muscles which extend from the knee to above the hip (rectus femoris and sartorius) are included in the stretch. This is almost impossible to achieve if you try to do the exercise while standing up. When the front-thigh muscles are stiff, whether significantly or only to a minor degree, the long two-joint muscles (rectus femoris and sartorius) are usually the tightest element, so this exercise is essential for regaining full pliability. Flexibility in the front-thigh muscles helps prevent some knee problems, especially kneecap pain syndrome. It is vital for good knee and hip alignment and movements, and to prevent adverse pressure on the pelvis and lower trunk. If the front-thigh muscles are tight, they hold the hips bent, and this can contribute to degenerative changes (osteoarthritis) in the joint. If they are tight on one leg and not the other, they create an asymmetry which has a bad effect not only on the hips, but also on the pelvis, lower back and knees.
Position: Lie on your stomach on a firm surface.
To stretch: Bend your knee to its natural limit, then draw it gently towards your bottom with your hand, so that you feel a slight stretch on the front of your thigh. Hold the position still for a count of 6, then relax completely
Repetitions and frequency: 3-10 times, 2-3 times a day
Avoid pain. If your back is uncomfortable when you lie flat on your stomach, place a cushion under your hips at first. If you feel pain from your kneecap as you bend or straighten the knee, put a folded towel under the thigh to lift the front of the knee clear of the floor. Do not over-stretch, or stretch further from the stretched position. Do not exert pressure in order to force the heel on to your buttock. If you have difficulty in reaching your foot with your hand, use the other leg by pressing the heel against the ankle of the leg to be stretched; or tie a belt round the ankle and pull gently on the ends of the belt. If one thigh is tighter than the other, do more repetitions for the stiffer side.
After injury:
This is an essential exercise after injury to the front-thigh muscles, after most knee and hip injuries or problems, and for many types of back problem. It should be done within pain limits as soon as the position and movement are comfortable.