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How to Use a Stretching Strap?

Woman doing a leg extension with a stretching strap.
Karla Tafra

One of the most popular stretching tools is a stretching strap, and although it can do wonders to improve your flexibility and get you deeper into poses, it can also increase the risk of injury if you don’t know how to use it properly.

With so many different types of stretching tools on the market, stretching straps are compact, easy to carry with you, and can be used in a variety of ways. Stretching with a stretching strap shouldn’t cause any pain or too much tension and just because you’re using one doesn’t mean your flexibility has magically increased overnight. The purpose of this fitness tool is to help you gain progress over time and not make you go over your body’s limits and harm your muscles.

In addition to improving your flexibility, there are multiple ways a stretching strap can enhance your stretching session and help you increase your range of motion, improve your backbends and forward folds, as well as help you work on your balance and stability.

Seated Forward Fold

Seated forward folds are one of the hardest stretching exercises and the longest to see any real progress in. They require plenty of flexibility in both, your lower back and your hamstrings, and although these two areas of your body are often stretched together, they are also the ones that tense up during the rest of your day, especially if you’re leading a more sedentary type of lifestyle. 

Using a stretching strap can really help you work on your posture and technique so you avoid any force or pulling movements that might cause tension in the wrong parts of your body and increase the risk of injury.

Start in a seated position with both of your legs straight in front of you. Flex your feet and wrap the strap around your soles. Grab it with both hands and sit straight, so your body is making a capital L shape. For some people, even this is plenty. Assess how you’re feeling and if this seems easy, grab the strap a bit lower, but equally on both sides.

Continue with this motion until you’re comfortable, making sure your back stays straight and there’s tension on your strap. Once you reach your edge, stay and hold for three to five long inhales and exhales. With every inhale, feel like you’re growing taller from your seat, and with every exhale try to get deeper in your muscles. After your last exhale, slowly retract your steps by walking your hands up until you’re sitting upright, and then relax the strap.

Stretching Strap

Stretching strap that helps you get deeper in your poses.

Standing Balance

Another great purpose of using a stretching strap can be to improve your balance if your flexibility doesn’t allow for the full expression of a certain exercise. Often times we compensate for our weaker spots with poor technique and that will most certainly not help you achieve progress.

Start in a standing position and activate your core muscles. Ground your left foot into the floor and activate your left quadriceps, lifting the kneecap. Lift your right leg up and bend your knee. Flex your foot and wrap the stretching strap around your sole. Slowly stand upright and extend your leg, keeping the tension on the strap.

You can bring the leg higher up by pulling the strap towards you or even open your leg to the side and work on opening the hip. Whatever the case may be, you’re not allowing your flexibility level to impact your balance. Keep the tension on the strap and stay for three to five long breath cycles. At the end of your last exhale, bend your leg and slowly release the strap.

Yoga Strap

Great for yoga poses and beyond.

Shoulder Mobility

Working on improving your shoulder mobility can sometimes be harder than you think, especially if your job requires you to sit in front of your computer for long periods of time. Additionally, whenever we find ourselves in a stressful situation, our shoulders naturally tend to tense up, inhibiting our range of motion.

Start in a standing position and grab the strap with both hands. Lift your arms over your head and keep them straight, gently try to bring them behind you. Inhale and bring them back forward. You’re basically doing a sweeping motion of your arms over your head and ending at your glutes, and then going backward and ending at your hip flexors. The wider you grab the strap the easier it will be, so work on closing the gap between your palms.

You can do this motion five to ten times and then leave your right hand up while you bring the left behind your back and bend your elbow. Keep the tension on the strap as you bring the palms closer together, stretching your triceps, opening your shoulders, and improving the flexibility of your entire front body. Stay for three to five inhales and exhales and repeat on the other side.

Stretching strap with loops

A unique stretching strap to make your stretches easier.

Leg Extension

Working on improving the flexibility of your hamstrings can often be compensated with other big muscle groups. Lying on the floor isolates your leg muscles and helps you really work on just the specific muscle fibers you’re trying to tackle, without help from your lower back.

Lie on the floor and extend your legs. Lift your right up and bend the knee. Wrap the strap around the sole and flex your foot. Inhale and gently extend your leg. Keep the tension on the strap and with every exhale, try to bring the leg closer to your torso. Stop when you feel your left leg lifts from the floor. It should be completely still.

Stay here for three to five breaths and really work on the mind-to-muscle connection, trying to breathe into your hamstrings. At the end of your last exhale, bend your right knee and relax the strap. Repeat on the other side. You might notice the difference in the flexibility of your legs so be careful not to go past your limits.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands that double as stretching straps.

Stretching is one of the best ways to improve your flexibility, increase your range of motion, and enhance recovery time. Add foam rolling into the mix and you’ve got yourself a recipe for the ultimate recovery.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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