Everything you Knee’d to know!

The knee is often central to the everyday person’s list of complaints: “I could’ve gone pro but I blew out my knee”; “When there is bad weather, my knee acts up”; and the most common thought: “I think I need a knee replacement”.

As stretch therapists, we see countless knee pain-related cases weekly. The knee is vital to keeping your body upright and its clever structure is pivotal to allowing you to take a step. The knee is a complex joint of multiple bones, ligaments and tendons. This complex structure means that there are a variety of injuries or problems that can arise. The most heard of are Meniscus injuries, ACL tears, Runner’s Knee & the dreaded, knee arthritis.

Symptoms of knee injury or issues include pain, stiffness, weakness and decreased mobility. These often significantly impact function, daily activities and quality of life. However, proactive management of these issues through stretching, mobility work and strengthening can reduce symptoms and improve functionality.

It is also important to ensure that your knee mobility and surrounding structures are in good condition to avoid later injuries or issues. Pre-hab rather than rehab is a much easier and pain-free route!

StretchingSA therapists specialise in improving function, decreasing pain and increasing mobility and flexibility using active isolated stretching and strengthening.

Your knees support you, and you should support your knees! Let us help you figure out how to support your knees, combat pain and stiffness and get you feeling like the Bee’s Knees!

Stretching: An Effective Solution for Calf Problems

Calf problems can be a significant hindrance to daily life, whether you’re an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys being active. From muscle tightness to cramps and even more severe issues like strains or tears, calf ailments can sideline you from your regular activities. However, amidst various treatment options, one simple yet powerful solution often gets overlooked: stretching.

Understanding Calf Problems

  • Muscle Tightness: Sedentary lifestyles, improper footwear, or overuse of calf muscles without adequate recovery can lead to tightness in the calf muscles.
  • Cramps: Calf cramps can occur due to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or muscle fatigue. They’re often characterized by sudden, painful contractions of the calf muscles.
  • Strains and Tears: Overexertion, sudden movements, or inadequate warm-up can result in strains or tears in the calf muscles, leading to pain, swelling, and decreased mobility.

The Role of Stretching

Stretching is a fundamental component of any fitness or rehabilitation regimen, but its importance for calf health cannot be overstated. Here’s how stretching can alleviate and prevent calf problems:

  • Increased Flexibility: Regular stretching helps improve the flexibility of the calf muscles, reducing the risk of tightness and enhancing overall mobility. This increased flexibility allows the muscles to move through their full range of motion without strain.
  • Improved Blood Circulation: Stretching promotes better blood circulation to the calf muscles, delivering essential nutrients and oxygen while removing metabolic waste products. Improved circulation aids in muscle recovery and reduces the likelihood of cramps.
  • Prevention of Injuries: By enhancing flexibility and reducing muscle tightness, stretching plays a crucial role in preventing calf injuries such as strains and tears. Incorporating stretching into both pre-and post-workout routines can significantly decrease the risk of overuse injuries.
  • Relief from Discomfort: For individuals already experiencing calf problems, targeted stretching can provide immediate relief from discomfort. Gentle stretching exercises help alleviate muscle tightness, reduce pain, and promote healing.

Effective Stretching Techniques

To reap the benefits of stretching for calf problems, it’s essential to perform the exercises correctly and consistently. Here are some effective stretching techniques:

  • Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall with your hands placed on the wall at shoulder height. Step one foot back, keeping it straight, and press the heel into the ground. Lean forward, bending the front knee, until you feel a stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold the stretch for only 1.5 – 2 seconds per repetition. Do 5 – 8 repetitions with 2 sets and switch sides.
  • Seated Calf Stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Loop a towel around the ball of one foot and gently pull it towards you, keeping the leg straight. You should feel a stretch in the calf muscle. Hold the stretch for only 1.5 – 2 seconds per repetition. Do 5 – 8 repetitions with 2 sets and switch sides.
  • Downward Dog Pose: Begin on your hands and knees, then lift your hips towards the ceiling, straightening your legs to form an inverted V shape. Press your heels towards the ground while keeping your arms and back straight. Hold the stretch for only 1.5 – 2 seconds per repetition. Do 5 – 8 repetitions with 2 sets.


Calf problems can significantly impact your quality of life, but incorporating stretching into your routine can provide relief and prevent future issues. Whether you’re dealing with muscle tightness, cramps, or more severe injuries, regular stretching can improve flexibility, enhance circulation, and promote overall calf health. Remember to perform stretches correctly, listen to your body, and consult a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or severe symptoms. With dedication and consistency, stretching can be a powerful tool in your journey towards healthier, happier calves.

The Foot


26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons, the foot is incredibly complex. Your feet serve as the pillar or foundation for your entire body in terms of support, balance and posture.

“Be good to your feet, and they will carry you, all through your young years and all your old ones too. Give them the attention they deserve, ‘coz new feet can’t be bought!”

How the feet function, diseases and possible injuries.

The foot is used to stabilize, absorb shock, and propel the body in a forward or backward movement. One can identify many underlying health/medical disorders just by the foot itself. There are many kinds of diseases and disorders of the feet, to name a few: Bunions, Hammertoes, Corns, Ankle arthritis, Plantar fasciitis, Gout, Neuromas, flat feet, Diabetic Neuropathy, Hallux Rigidus, Osteochondral defect of the Talus.

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) can help with foot injuries, disorders, and diseases by improving flexibility, reducing muscle tension, and promoting proper alignment and function of the foot and ankle.

AIS involves stretching specific muscles and connective tissues in a targeted and controlled manner, which can help relieve pain by also reducing inflammation in the affected areas. AIS additionally improves circulation promoting faster recovery from injuries and reducing further complications.

AIS can help

AIS can help to improve overall foot function and reduce discomfort by stretching and strengthening the muscles and tissues surrounding the foot. Incorporating regular AIS into a comprehensive foot care routine can enhance the health and function of the feet and well as contribute to faster recovery.

Healthy Hips


I have many clients coming into the practice, and so do my fellow stretch therapists, with pain and or discomfort in and around the hips or originating from the hip and radiating down the leg(s). It is often difficult to find the cause, however, once you know how the hip works, and what factors are important in diagnosing hip pain, it will be easier for you as a patient to explain to your stretch therapist or other healthcare provider what you are feeling. First, a little explanation about how the hips work and why it is important to have healthy hips. Then we’ll look into what can go wrong i.e. types of pain and issues and what might cause them, diagnosis and treatment and lastly how to keep your hips healthy.

How your hips work and the importance of healthy hips

The hips are made up of joints, bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and other connective tissues. A joint is where two bones get together and there is usually movement between them. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, the ‘ball’ is the top of the thigh bone and the socket is part of the hip bone (pelvis). Another joint concerning the pelvis is the sacroiliac joint (SI) joint where the pelvis connects with the spine. Various ligaments connect bone to bone in the hip and tendons, that connect muscle to bone. Lastly, there is fascia, a thin casing of tissue holding bones, muscle, nerve fibre and blood vessels in place. In addition, you will also find bursa, a liquid-filled sac that provides cushioning and a smooth surface for joints to move easily, synovium a thin cover for bones making fluids so bones move easily and also cartilage, a smooth substance covering the bones such as the top of the thigh bone that absorbs impact when you walk. Muscles of the hip include the gluteal, hip rotators (underneath glutes) adductor muscles (inside of thighs), iliopsoas muscle (hip flexors), quadriceps (front of thigh) and hamstrings (back of thigh).

You can see that the hips are very complex structures that can make it difficult to diagnose and treat hip problems. In future articles, we will look more closely at how each of the above components are working. The complex nature of the hips also highlights why it is so important to look after your hips and prevent the many issues you can have or develop as listed below.

Causes of pain and/or discomfort

Genetic, lifestyle, injury and disease (infection), are factors that can cause the following conditions of the hips:

Sciatica – pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the leg caused by an injured sciatic nerve or pressure on the nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from the spine through the side of the hips down each leg at the back. The nerve can be pressured or injured in the spine (e.g. slipped disc etc.) or by tight muscles in the hip, especially the piriformis muscle.

Tendonitis and tendinosis – tendonitis refer to inflammation of the tendons causing pain and tendonitis is more degeneration of tendons, without inflammation.

Bursitis – Inflammation of the fluid-filled pads (bursae) that act as cushions at the joints, it can be very painful.

Hip impingement – more often a problem in men than women, is when the ball (top of thigh bone) of the joint, does not fit properly into the socket (hip bone) at the hip joint. This can prevent proper movement and cause pain.

Arthritis – One of the most common issues in the hip includes different forms of arthritis i.e. osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, septic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythematosus and psoriatic arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis which is mainly caused by wear and tear on the bones at the joints causing inflammation and degeneration and is thus more common in older people. It can however develop at a quicker pace in people with uneven bones. Most other types of arthritis are also inflammatory conditions, but may rather be caused by infection-causing auto-immune disorders.

Dislocation, dysfunction and fractures – accidents or conditions such as osteoporosis can cause hip dislocation, dysfunction (specifically the si joint) and fractures. Dislocation is when the joints are out of place, there are many types. This can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

Labral tear – this is damage to the connective tissue that holds the ball and socket of the hip joint together. This can cause reduced movement, pain and the feeling of hip locking.

Muscle strain – damage to muscle fibres and tendons around the hips can include just strain or minor tears and can cause pain in the hip area.

Spinal Stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal, when this happens in the lower back, it can cause pain at the back of the hip.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your first thought should be to rule out any fractures, if you are not sure, always see a doctor first to rule that out. A doctor will then refer you to an appropriate specialist. However, once you are sure you have no fractures or any other serious medical problem, it is always best to start with the most non-invasive treatment. Here, your stretch therapist should be your first address. Active Isolated Stretching is a great technique in treating most issues related to hip pain and or discomfort and can realign the hips and surrounding areas and restore hip functionality and or manage pain associated with inflammatory conditions. AIS can restructure and restore the bones, connective tissues and muscles to a certain extent and improve circulation in the body to speed up the healing process and drain any toxins and inflammation from the body.

How to keep hips healthy

Apart from treating your hips when needed, it is important to take steps to prevent any future issues. An overall healthy lifestyle is of course important with factors such as getting proper nutrition, eating a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet, being aware of your posture during sitting, standing and other activities, getting quality sleep, balancing stress levels etc. Regular self-stretching at home and therapy sessions with a stretch therapist can help with better sleep, managing stress, draining inflammation, managing the effects of overused muscles (if you cannot avoid this), proper posture and also in helping the body absorb minerals and vitamins from your healthy diet.

This is by no means an exhaustive list or advice on how to keep your hips healthy, but I hope this can give you guidance on where to start in your journey to healthy hips and preventing any issues in older age, so you can go through life with one less thing to worry about.

What is Stretch Therapy?

Stretch Therapy is the name we give to the special work being developed by Aaron L.Mattes over the last 50 years. Stretch Therapy spans the entire technique called ‘active isolated stretching’ and ‘active isolated strengthening’. This technique is very useful right from rehabilitation to performance enhancement.

Stretch therapy comprises the following main elements:

we use a number of techniques to improve the Range of Movement (ROM) of the body; nerves, fascia and muscles are used as ‘gateways’ to change the “movement map in the brain.

inactive muscles are made active; knees, shoulders, and elbows are stabilized; posture and alignment are made more efficient.

the capacity of the whole body to exert force is the emphasis here; most of our techniques are body-weight only, and all involve the ‘core’.

the forgotten part of any health optimization program. Here, ‘relaxation’ is used in two ways: the first as a shorthand for techniques that enhance speed (any force-producing agonist needs its antagonist to relax equally quickly so that a limb, or a whole body, can move faster), and the second sense, the fundamental part of rejuvenation and regeneration practices.
Together, the Stretch Therapy elements enable anyone to improve flexibility, and to perform ordinary and extraordinary tasks with greater ease and better performance, and for longer in life.

Stretch Therapy is the safest, most efficient method for anyone to achieve grace and ease in daily life, and is suitable for most people.

Active Isolated Stretching: How it Works

There are two primary principles that provide the basis for how AIS works. The first is called reciprocal inhibition, which means that if you want to lift your arm, your nervous system has to shut off the muscles that bring your arm down. This means that AIS involves your nervous system in the stretch, making it easier for the muscles to elongate. The second principle is to hold the stretch for 1.5 to 2 seconds, and no longer. Research shows that holding a stretch for longer than 2.5 to 3 seconds will cause your body to engage a protective reflex. This stretch reflex will cause a muscle contraction in the muscle you are trying to stretch. It is therefore important not to hold any stretch to long, not even 3 seconds.
By not “tripping” the stretch reflex, you are able to get a gentle stretch, without the body fighting itself. The stretch is repeated 8 to 10 times in a set. The repeated “pumping” action of the muscle allows for increased circulation to the area. Because the stretches target highly specific areas of the body, AIS provides an efficient and effective stretch.

These specific movements also help relieve symptoms of stress. Stress touches all of our lives. Gentle stretching movements can invigorate the circulatory, respiratory and neuromuscular systems, which help alleviate many of the symptoms of stress.

Benefits of Active Isolated Stretching:

  • Improves flexibility
  • Helps to relieve muscle soreness
  • Reduces muscle spasm
  • Helps to address and reduce chronic pain
  • Reduces the risk of muscle strain and tearing
  • Helps recovery from injury
  • Helps to increase athletic performance
  • Helps to relieve stress
  • Improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells
  • Helps stimulate lymph circulation and elimination of cellular waste
  • Helps to maintain good posture
  • Helps to regain and maintain the full range of motion of a joint
  • Promotes balance in the body
  • Promotes healthy growth in children and youth
  • Prevent postural problems in pre-adolescent growth spurts