Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General Couch Stretch temp hurts Knee + Ankle

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    • #71305
      AvatarMichael Bashista

      Hi,I wanted to ask a brief question regarding the traditional couch stretch. I’ve been doing it daily using an air-ex pad against the wall and I have been working on adding duration from 2 minutes to 5 minutes a side.

      I’m feeling now while doing the stretch im getting slight knee pain on the pad and the ankle planar flexed against the wall goes sort of cold and numb to the extent I need to get up and when I do I can barely move with my knee and ankle being sore.

      Is this normal? Perhaps with my restricted anterior I’m pressing my foot into wall more the I should be when trying to squeeze my glutes

      Any tips please??

    • #75884
      AvatarNathan Richer

      try these:

      1. for now, do couch stretch with a chair/stool/actual couch where you can hang the foot over the edge of the support. it will thus not be fully extended but bent at the ankle. this should relieve the tension somewhat until you adapt.
      2. start with the torso angled lower towards the knee that is up. keep the torso locked in good posture and then come up. come up only to the angle at which you can still maintain good posture. do not go to the point where you start overextending the back. from your description, i’m guessing that you probably feel tension way before vertical, if you are maintaining proper posture. only come up to this position until things loosen up. i’m guessing that glute contraction is easier if you are more bent over versus vertical. that is another good sign for the short term; come up to the angle at which you can maintain glute contraction during this stretch. of course challenge yourself with more vertical angle as your ability to hold glute contraction increases. 
      3. put a finger or hand on the rear glute and squeeze it. the hand/finger will give you tactile feedback that you are contracting and maintaining that contraction for the full duration of the stretch. work on keeping that contraction the whole time. at first, it will probably waver a lot. if your anterior structures are tight, they will neurologically be inhibiting the glutes to contract, along with typical 21st century glute activation problems. but use your brain to squeeze them as tight as possible. eventually you will be able to hold the contraction as the anterior structures loosen up.
      4. try to press the hips forward instead of pushing back against the foot. this will put more stretch on the hip side of the quads and may relieve pressure at the knee.
      5. voodoo band the quads/lower leg around the knee. they may be tight in general so loosen them up.
      good luck!
    • #75895
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      Hey Ross,

      I would say it’s typical, if not normal. What you’re probably experiencing is a high amount of tension being focused in those areas because of the stiffness in the system. In order to get a stretching sensation, or maybe even just to get into the position for the stretch, you have to put a significant amount of strain through that anterior musculature and the associated tissues.
      Kelly actually did an interesting pro episode a while back about using the couch mob as a diagnostic for mobility issues in the front of the hip and leg. It can give you some insight on where in the system you’re really locked up, and therefore where you can target some soft tissue work (balls, foam roller). If you’re experiencing that much discomfort (not to mention numbness), I would just use small doses (15-30sec) of the stretch interspersed with soft-tissue work for the front of the hip, thigh, and/or shin meat. Use the couch mob as your “test/retest” to see how much working on one of those areas improves your position.
      As you soften up those stiff tissues, you might (and hopefully will) find that the couch mob becomes more comfortable and accessible for you.
    • #75999
      AvatarMichael Bashista

      Thank you again for your replies guys.

      I will take it all on board and keep it going within it’s limits.

      I should mention that i feel a lot more relief with posterior distraction mobs for the capsule. But I guess this doesn’t mean rule out the couch stretch?

      – May I ask that is it important after the couch stretch for so long (several minutes) or even with a band … Should I always do the posterior distraction mob after to glide and reset the head to the back of the socket?

    • #76000
      AvatarNathan Richer

      IMHO i always tell people to do a mob that sets the femur head back in the socket after couch stretch.  i don’t have evidence that this is necessary, but it’s more intuition since our femur heads tend to be biased forwards any ways that putting in back as the last thing you do during mobs is a good thing overall, whether before or after workout, or just mob-ing during the day. so any moves that bias your femur heads to the front may be necessary for the mob itself, but generally i think it’s good for the 21st century population to put it towards the back whenever possible (or more than likely re-centering is what occurs when you put it “towards the back”).

    • #76012
      AvatarAlex Andrews

      How does one center the femur head?

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