The iliopsoas stretch aimed at improving the hip extension through the gluteals and hamstrings and low back discomfort. The stretchers lies face down and lifts the leg off the table as high as possible with a bent knee, and keeping their hips on the table. The leg needs to be supported just above the knee to provide resistance for the isometric contraction. The stretcher should slowly to try pull their thigh toward the table without straightening the lower leg. Then the stretcher can relax and inhale keeping the leg in the starting position. On the exhale the stretcher should contract the hip extensors (lift their thigh higher). Repeat this stretch 2 or 3 times on each leg.
Once again if the stretch is experiencing any kind of back pain, place a pillow under their hips to take some stress of the lower back. Contracting the abdominal muscles to stabilize and flatten their lower back may help as well. There is a strong tendency to lift the hips whilst doing this stretch, so body awareness education is required to keep the stretchers hips flat on the table in order to maximise the benefits of the stretch.
The gastrocnemius-soleus stretch, or to put it more simply a calf stretch, is very important to remember and incorporate into your AFL stretching routine for maximum performance. It’s fairly simple to do with just a few step involved and the need for a partner is necessary as per usual in PNF stretches. The stretcher lies on their back, with their legs straight and flexes their foot towards their knee as far as possible. A partner then holds that foot in the flexed position whilst the stretcher attempts to point their toes. After this stretch the stretcher inhales deeply whilst the foot is in the starting position and on the exhale the stretcher contract their tibialis anterior and deepens the stretch.
Once again if you feel pain at any time stop. This stretch is best done whilst the stretcher is lying on a table so they can grip the sides of the table and stabilise themselves. Both of these muscles insert into the Achilles tendon, which is the strongest in the body. The soleus muscle lies underneath the gastrocnemius and is more often the reason for tension felt in the calf.
Obviously we could not include every stretch required for this sport instead this blog will aim to cover the main stretches used and maybe a few you may not have thought of previously. Please remember to follow the safe stretching tips we have given you in the previous blog as well as the individual safety tips for static and PNF stretching.
Images taken from "Lower Body Stretches" wall chart by B. Walker.