Controversial Stretches

As I was reading the National Academy of Sports Medcine’s text book, I came across a very interesting section about controversial stretches.  Many of these are positions needed for a specific sport, and thus are utilized in training for that; however, if they are not performed with perfect technique they can be dangerous and cause injury.  These controversial stretches are:

  • Inverted hurdler’s stretch
  • Plow
  • Shoulder stand
  • Straight-leg toe touch
  • Arching quadriceps

These are pictures I found on the internet in respective order to illustrate the aforementioned stretches.  Here are the pros/uses and cons of each stretch:

Inverted hurdlers stretch

Pros/Use- Mimics the position of a hurdler going over a hurdler.  Runners who jump hurdles need to stretch this area.

Cons – Places high stress on the on the inside of the knee.  May cause stress on the kneecap.  Those with knee or low-back pain should refrain from this stretch.

Plow Pose

Pros/Use – Used in yoga.

Cons – Places high stretch on neck and spine.  If not done with exact technique this pose might place the spine at risk for injury.  Those with neck or back pain, or with high blood pressure, current or past, should refrain from doing this stretch.

Shoulder Stand

Pros/Use – Used in yoga.

Cons – Places high stress on neck, shoulders, and spine.  Those with hypertension, neck spine injury, or if not used with exact technique should avoid this stretch.

Straight-Leg Toe Touch

Pros/Use – Stretches hamstring complex.

Cons – Can place vertebrae and cartilage discs in low back under high stress.  Also, those with poor flexibility may try to hyperextend the knees during stretch, which might place high stress on the ligaments of the knee.  Those with herniated discs or nerve pain running in the back of the leg, or a history of such, should refrain from this stretch.

Arching Quadriceps

Pros/Use – Stretches quadriceps and hip flexors.

Cons – Places high stress on kneecap and other tissues in front of knee joint.  Those with a history of knee problems should refrain from this stretch.  Most health-care professionals also discourage use of this stretch.

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