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2 Hip Stretches for Snowshoers
By Courtenay Schurman, MS, CSCS
If your hips start aching during the first few minutes of an early season snowshoe outing, try including these stretches for the psoas and iliotibial band (ITB) on your next trip as soon as the aching begins, and following each gym workout.
Lunge Stretch for the Psoas
Whenever you dust off your snowshoes and go outside to play for the first time each year, you may discover that the muscles in the front of the hip (the iliopsoas, or hip flexors) start to ache with each heavy step upwards, and then get very tight afterwards. A great stretch to include in your daily gym routine is the Quad-Psoas stretch described in detail at www.bodyresults.com/e29090qpsoas.asp.
However, if lying or sitting in the snow to stretch does not appeal to you and you would prefer to learn a way to stretch the same hip flexor muscle standing up, try the Forward Lunge stretch (pictured) for the psoas. Simply find a log, tree stump, large rock, or anything that will allow you to elevate one foot at least twelve inches, and extend the other leg out behind you. Keep your torso vertical and hips squared so you do not rotate to one side (this will lessen the effectiveness of the stretch) and for an added calf stretch, try to keep the heel planted on the ground. To stretch the right hip, place the left foot on the rock and extend the right leg backward, squeezing the right glute (buttocks) in order to push your body into extension. To deepen the stretch along the front of the body, reach your right arm overhead, keeping your torso erect and hip pressing forward. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat to the other side.
Standing Iliotibial Band Stretch
One of our favorite stretches for running, climbing and snowshoeing is this one for the iliotibial band (ITB) located on the lateral (outer) side of the hip. If you have any radiating pain or tingling in your toes that has been attributed to a tight ITB, this stretch may provide some relief. To stretch the left hamstring and ITB, stand facing a waist-high bench, hood of a car, or tree, or simply lean forward with the right leg in front of the left and place your hands on the front of the right thigh. Keep the left leg straight as shown and right slightly bent. Rest your elbows on the horizontal surface if one is available. Your left foot will be flat on the ground holding most of your weight. Lean gently toward the left, into the left hip, until you feel a good stretch in the hip and upper outer part of the thigh. To target the hamstring more intensely, shift your weight back into the heel and be sure the leg is nearly straight. Hold for 30 seconds. Reverse and repeat to the other side.