Lack of hip mobility contributes to low back pain and diminishes your performance during your exercise and sports activity.
Shortened and overactive gluteus maximus is one aspect of limited hip motion.The figure 4 stretch helps lengthen glutes.
How much improvement you feel in your low back pain and your performance depends on how much of the problem is caused by shortened glutes.
Effective duration and frequency of this stretch depends on how many activities you perform that shortens your glutes.
If you spend two or three hours per week doing several hundred reps of squats, lunges and plyometric jumps, don’t expect to balance them with 30 seconds figure 4 stretch.
The time to use this stretch is after the activities that shorten the glutes.
Performing this exercise before an activity like squats and lunges interferes with your ability to get the contractions you need for correct exercise form.
Supine Figure 4 Stretch
- Lie on your back.
- Bend both knees and place your feet on the floor.
- Cross on leg and place the ankle on top of the other above the knee. You are forming a figure 4 trying to bring your top shin to be parallel to your shoulders.
- Crunch up, reach behind the support leg, and return to flat back position.
- Breathe and relax.
- Hold until you feel your glutes release. It usually happens within 30 to 40 seconds. If the release happened, you can deepen the stretch by moving your leg closer to your chest or switch legs. If the release did not happen, switch legs and return to the same leg after you hold the opposite side for 30-40 seconds.
Supine Figure 4 Stretch Performance & Safety Tips
- Keep your head and neck in neutral position.
- Keep your shoulders back and down.
- If the glutes are tight, retain a crunch position, but do not kink your neck up. The back of your head should not the ground with an excessive arch in the neck and rolled up shoulders.
- Do not trap and pull on your knee cap. Your knee cap needs to remain free for your quads to move.
- Use your elbow on the same side of the top knee to control it so that you can keep it parallel to your shoulders.
- Use your elbow to control your knee and your femur without twisting it within the joint.