When I was younger, I was mildly obsessed with ballet and did everything I could to help me get more bendy. I would even pull my leg up over my head and tie it to the bedpost at night to try to get my splits.
If only I’d had the Gaiam Restore MultiGrip Stretch Strap then. It would have made things much simpler and safer.
The Gaiam MultiGrip Stretch Strap is designed to help you increase flexibility and range of motion in a safe, gentle manner. The strap has hand holds all the way from the center out to the ends. This allows you to vary your grip and hold onto the strap as you move deeper into a stretch.
Length and Grip
When I’ve used other straps to help with stretching, I often found my hands slipping. That makes it hard to inch your way up and down the strap and either move further into a stretch or back off. The multiple grip feature allows you to hold onto the strap firmly and comfortably at every point in your range of motion.
The strap is 86 inches long, so you have plenty of room to stretch from head to toe. Since I’m pretty flexible, I found I mostly used smaller sections of the rope, but I also used the additional holds to stretch throughout my whole body. I like using the strap in a wide-legged seated forward bend. Since the strap is so long, you can hook each foot into the ends and still have plenty of strap left over to move in and out of your stretch.
If you work a desk job, I recommend this strap especially for you. It’s an inexpensive tool to assist in deepening stretches without requiring a partner. With the stretch strap, you can maximize short bouts of stretching throughout your work day without leaving the office or needing a partner. I love using it to open the shoulders and and sides of the body after long periods of sitting and typing.
It took me a while to get used to using the hand holds and adjusting the length of the strap, so if you have the same experience at first, don’t let it dissuade you. Once you get the hang of it, the strap is easy to use, and it also comes with an exercise guide that has sixteen different stretches you can do with the strap. The writer and editor in me was bothered by a few small typos in the instructions, but for the most part the directions were clear and the illustrations helpful.
You Are the Captain
You can use this strap for normal static stretches, and you can also use it to do self-PNF stretching. PNF stretches involve contracting and relaxing the muscles while moving through your range of motion. You usually do PNF with a partner, but you can also do it with a strap, as shown in the video below.
I’ve done PNF stretching with a partner who knew what she was doing, and I have also hurt myself doing PNF with a different partner who didn’t know what she was doing. Self-PNF takes the partner variable out of the equation, since you don’t have to give feedback to a partner and trust the partner to act on your feedback. Put differently, you have complete control over how far you stretch.
Research also supports the effectiveness of self-PNF stretching. In a 2014 study that compared self-PNF to static stretching, the PNF program improved hip range of motion as well as hip, back, and shoulder flexibility, whereas static stretching only improved hip, back, and shoulder flexibility. In my own experience, using the strap has been especially beneficial for the range of motion in my sholders and my hamstring flexibility.
Ideally, this kit would come with a video that details how to stretch properly and integrate breathing. After all, with great stretching power comes great responsibility, and some people just don’t know how to stretch safely. If you’ve never done any flexibility training before, I recommend reading up on how to do it safely and avoid stupid things like tying your leg to your bedpost. (Live and learn.)
In a few of the online reviews I read, people were disappointed that this strap is not stretchy. So to be clear, just because it’s called a stretch strap does not mean it’s made of stretchy material. The strap offers resistance and will not give when you stretch into it. You’re the one stretching, not the strap.
If you have clients who could use a flexibility boost or if you already have a good base of flexibility and mobility but want to move further, you’ll find this product to be both safe and effective. And if you are looking for a way to work on range of motion while working a desk job, you should definitely have this tool in your desk drawer arsenal. The price is right, and your hamstrings are waiting.
The Gaiam Restore MultiGrip Stretch Strap is available for $11.99 at Amazon.com.