Got sciatica? Got a pain in your butt? Got tight hips? If you answered yes then chances are you have heard or tried a #4 stretch. Essentially, the name of this stretch reflects the shape you make with your legs when you place your ankle on the thigh of the opposite leg. Placing your legs in this position creates hip flexion along with external rotation of your thigh. While all the muscles in the hip joint get stretched in this position, it particularly targets the pyriformis. Since the pyriformis can harbor trigger points of pain or cause sciatic pain when inflamed, the number four stretch is commonly prescribed by chiropractors, yoga teachers, massage therapists, and personal trainers.
The #4 stretch can be performed when sitting or lying on your back. However, positioning is important if you want to reap the hip benefits. If your hips are tight, your spine may bend to make up for limited hip flexibility. When performing a seated #4 stretch, try to sit up tall with a straight spine rather than rounding the back or tucking the pelvis as shown in this picture.
When performing a supine #4 stretch, try to keep your tailbone closer to the floor to maintain a straight spine rather than rounding the back or tucking the pelvis as shown in this picture.
To effectively target and stretch the muscles in the hip, try not to let your back round or your pelvis to tuck. AB-EZE provides a new way to explore the #4 stretch. Place the support pad around your upper back while facing the anchor point. Position your legs and sit down into the stretch. With the tactile cue and support of AB-EZE, you are able to press into the pad, lift your chest, and keep your spine straight. Notice in the photo how the stretch is in the hip right where you want and need it.
AB-EZE also allows you to get into a #4 squat as your flexibility improves. You can make it a dynamic stretch by bending and straightening your supporting leg or settle down into a deep static stretch.
Watch this Facebook live demonstrating how to use AB-EZE to perform the #4 stretch.