The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Getting More From a Hip Stretch

This post tells the Hip Stretch story started with Inspirational Ivy in August. In that post, Ivy tells how she used healthful body mechanics to fix a serious and extended attack of sciatica and foot drop the year before. Several posts since, have given fun updates. Here is the fun that the Hip Stretch started:

Feb 2006, Ivy from New Zealand wrote to me,

"My hips are tight, particularly the right side that being the side I had the severe attack of sciatica. I have worked so hard on my hamstrings and my "dropped" foot, the bonus being that I am winning. Now it is time to put the same amount of work into my hips."

I figured Ivy would start with the Better Posterior Hip and Piriform Stretch and a few of the other hip stretches in my books, then apply them for daily life by crossing one ankle over the other knee for putting on shoes, shown at right, described in Ancient Shoe Exercise for Hip Stretch and Balance, and that would be that.

In August 2007, she wrote,

"I am jumping for joy. No, I haven't won a million dollars.

"After having been doing the posterior hip stretch lying down for the past 21 months twice a day, I can now do the same stretch sitting. My hips have always been so tight and there was no way that I could get my ankle across the knee - this has been my goal and I have done it. I have to be honest, I have not got it to perfection, that being my next goal. I wonder if that will take another 21 months. It just shows that a little persistence pays off in the end. I trust that all is well with you."

Twenty-one months - what a dedicated learner. It was a joy to work with enthusiastic Ivy. I wrote back saying it should not take so long, and asked if she did the stretch standing up to put on shoes and socks to make it real life, not an artificial stretch. Ivy wrote back,

"I have tried standing to put my sox on and cannot quite make it YET (note the yet), that will come. I do, however, ensure that I always stand to remove my sox, and the like. Also to put them on except for the sox. I also stand when I moisturize my legs and feet - I do this so as to improve my balance."

I wrote back encouraging putting socks and shoes on and off while standing. The point of stretching is healthy function, not to "do a stretch" just to have a greater range. The benefit is from applying the stretch to ability to stand steadily on one foot and have muscle stretch and length to put on shoes standing .

Four hours later Ivy wrote back:

"Wow, I did it. I have just returned from a 30 minute walk, did some lunges as a further warm up and thought I would give it a try. I cheated, instead of shoes, I used slippers - I thought it would be easier. Tomorrow I will try shoes.
"Dr Jolie, you are my inspiration, you asked if I could do it and that set me a challenge. I must NEVER SAY CAN'T. As you are probably aware, I am a very motivated woman, however, there is no one to spur me along - you have done that and again, I can only say a huge thank you."

The next day this arrived,

"I am very pleased with myself. I just needed that push. As I said yesterday, I must never say can't again.

"Again, all I can say is a huge thank you. A huge hug from me."

Readers, stand with safe balance to dress. Send me your fun photos, mpegs (short computer video) and stories of using healthful range of motion for daily life.

Original story and updates:

Ivy is a great-grandmother! (and a pretty great person too). She says,

"I guess I am very much like my late father who was a quiet achiever who used to tell me to 'stand tall and be proud of who you are' - I pass this advice on to my kids all the time."

Drawing of Shoe Stretch © by Jolie from the book Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier
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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.