Band and External Hip Stretches
One of the areas
of the lower body that is frequently tight is the external hip.
Also included attached to this muscle group are the outside upper
and lower leg. This outside of the leg has connective tissue (tendons)
running down the leg from the hip to the tibia, commonly known as
the shin. The entire muscle/tendon/connective tissue group is often
referred to as the iliotibial band. (The
actual ilitibial band is a tendon running from tensia fascialata,
a small muscle on the top, front portion of the hip, to right outside
the lateral aspect of the knee) For our purposes, we will be stretching
the lateral aspect of the hamstring, tensia fascialata, the lateral
quadricep, and inner groin muscles. Below is a drawing of the part
of the body we are going to stretch. The area of concentration is
outlined in red:
Often the outer part of the leg, as
outlined above, is tight because it is pulling against tight groin
muscles. So the best place to start loosening
up the iliotibial band/external hip is to stretch the groin/inner
hip area. Go to groin stretches
Note that the groin
stretches will begin to stretch the iliotibial band after
the groin muscles stretch and relax. If you cannot sit up straight
while stretching your groin, sit with your back against a wall.
This helps tremendously, since you do not have to tense muscles
just to sit upright, and you can concentrate on relaxing the groin.
If you have trouble with the above stretch, refer to the Prop
Stretches page for starters.
When you begin to come forward, as in the photo on the right above,
you will be stretching the iliotibial band/external hip muscles.
Important hint: When doing the above stretches,
you will first feel the stretching sensation in
whatever muscle group is tighter. After this muscle group lets go,
you will then feel the opposing muscle group stretching. Next, after
the opposing group lets go, you will feel the original muscle group
tight, but you will be lower in your stretch. Carry
on, and you will notice this in all the stretches: first one muscle
group lets go, then the opposing group, then the first, so on and
It is useful to add the leg stretch at this point to release the
hamstrings. Note that the iliotibial band will be stretched on the
bent leg in the picture below, as you get lower in the stretch,
as in the picture on right. Click here
to review hamstring stretches. Do both sides.
Now, work on the half lotus stretch.
This stretch really works the iliotibial band and hips. Here are
a few pictures to show you which stretches to do.
In the above photos,
the stretch is called the half lotus. Note how all the variations
stretch the iliotibial band on the bent leg. Make sure you work
both sides, and please, read the linked pages above for complete
instructions in those exercises.
Important hint: I sit in half lotus all the time.
The more you do it, the easier it gets. You can sit in half lotus
while reading, watching TV, and even sitting at a computer if your
chair does not have arms.
is possible to injure onself in any physical activity. Consult
your physician if in doubt about your physical condition
before embarking on a stretching program. The author of
howtostretch.com accepts no liability for any injuries sustained
while practicing any of the stretches described within.