An Introduction to Stretching with a Partner

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By Dr. Sender Deutsch
Published on February 8, 2016

partner stretchingWhat better way to combat the winter blues, along with neck and back pain, than by stretching.  Stretching by yourself is great, but partner-assisted stretching can be a better way to enhance your range of motion and flexibility without having to move your own limbs.  Partner stretching can help push your body that extra little bit further than you wouldn’t normally be able to do on your own.

Neck and back pain are more often than not a result of tight and tense muscles, which become restricted from a lack of mobility.  Especially as we age, tissues lose elasticity, creating abnormal tension and restriction on our joints, which can lead to pain and dysfunction.  Meditation and stretching has been proven by research to assist in helping you live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. Decreasing your stress levels can be achieved by decreasing your neuromuscular tension.  There is no better way to achieve this than by combining meditation and partner assisted stretching.  Remember, during each step below, use diaphragmatic breathing or deep belly breathing to help your nervous system and body relax.  This helps absorb the energy during each stretch your partner takes you through.

If you have any pain or feel like you’re being pushed too far, speak up and move on to the next step.  You should never feel uncomfortable or any pain during the stretches.  Remember that – motion is lotion!

partner stretching

Step 1.  Start with your partner lying face down on the floor with a small rolled up towel under their forehead to support their neck.  Gently apply pressure to their spine by pressing lightly down upper back.   This will increase mobility within the spine, which becomes restricted from increased sitting and rounded posture from computer work.  This is also a great way to relax the muscles prior to the rest of the stretching program, thus calming the central nervous system down from being heightened.

Step 2.  Bend the foot towards the buttocks.  The average person should be able to get a fist width from their heel to their butt.  Hold their leg as far as it can bend with a comfortable stretch down the front of the thigh.  This will stretch the quadriceps muscles.   Hold for one to three minutes.

Step 3.  Turn onto one side and place an ObusForme pillow under your partner’s head with the roll supporting the side of the neck.  Bottom knee should be slightly bent to alleviate low back pressure.  Take the top leg by the ankle and bend knee and pull back slightly under your partner feels a comfortable stretch in the front of their hip.  This stretch targets the hip flexor muscles specifically the psoas which attaches to the low back which many people are unaware of how it can cause low back pain.  Hold for one to three minutes.

Step 4.  Have your partner lie on their back with their ObusForme pillow supporting their neck and head.  Place your partner’s leg on your shoulder in the kneeling position and slightly bend the knee while you bring their knee to their chest until they feel a nice stretch in their hamstring muscles.  Hold for one to three minutes.

Step 5.  Straighten the knee from the above position and pull your partner’s toes towards them so that they feel a nice stretch in their calf muscles.  Again hold for one to three minutes.

Step 6.  Bend the knee again and bring your partner’s knee across their body into the figure four position to stretch the external hip rotators and glutes.  Hold for one to three minutes.

Step 7.  Take the knee from the figure four position towards the opposite shoulder so that your partner feels a deep stretch in their glutes and low back.  You can use your bodyweight to lean into this position to really help open up their low back muscles.  Hold for one to three minutes.

Step 8.  Turn your attention your partners head neck and shoulders.  Start by being above their head and placing your palms on their shoulders to push their rounded shoulders back towards the ground to help open up the chest.  They can also fully straighten their arms into a “T” position to enhance the stretch.

Step 9.  Apply some of your favorite lotion to the shoulders and bottom of the scalp to help massage their trapezius and levator muscles. This is where most people carry tension.  Slowly bring their ear to their opposite shoulder and hold for one to three minutes to lengthen the connective tissue.

Step 10.  Switch positions!