Heel Stretch is an advanced cheerleading stunt performed by flyers while balancing on one foot. Although it sounds like a warm-up stretch, it is actually a move that requires a lot of strength and flexibility. The Heel Stretch requires some time and practice to master but once you have got it, it will look impressive and effortless.
You can practice heel stretch cheerleading stunts while standing on solid ground. Stand on your right leg, then kick your left leg as high into the air as you can, catching your heel and pulling your leg into your body. If you have the balance, coordination and flexibility to perform the exercise on the floor, chances are you’ll have no problem learning the actual stunt. If you find that your major hindrance to performance is your flexibility, spend some time stretching.
The muscles that are contracting during the Heel Stretch should be stronger in order to hold the position and those that are lengthening or stretching require flexibility so that they may not hinder the movement. All those muscles involved in Heel Stretch are explained below so you do have enough knowledge to start practicing Heel Stretch.
Muscles Lengthening (Lifted Leg)
Biceps Femoris is one of the Hamstring muscles that is involved in extension of the leg at the hip joint. As the lifted leg is hyper-flexed, it is being lengthened strongly.
Semitendinosus is another Hamstring muscle that produces extension of the leg and here it is stretching.
The third and the last one of the Hamstring muscles that is also being stretched in the lifted leg.
Adductor Magnus (ischial fibers):
Ischial fibers of Adductor Magnus as discussed many times work as extensors of the leg, so just like Hamstrings they also are lengthening.
Piriformis is an external rotator and an abductor of the leg that is also getting stretched in the lifted leg.
Gluteus Maximus is a major extensor of the hip joint and thus, is being lengthened.
Gluteus Medius (posterior fibers):
The posterior fibers of Gluteus Medius contract to produce hip extension, therefore during the Heel Stretch, they lengthen in the lifted leg.
Muscles Lengthening (Standing Leg)
Psoas is a major flexor of the hip joint that works with Iliacus. The standing leg needs to be extended in order to support the body weight so Psoas is lengthening.
As discussed above, Iliacus is also a flexor of the hip joint that is being stretched in Heel Stretch.
Adductor Magnus in addition to being an adductor, also involved in hip flexion and thus, gets stretched in the standing leg during Heel Stretch.
It also acts as a flexor of the thigh in addition to being an adductor. Thus, gets lengthened.
Also getting lengthened in the standing leg whole performing the Heel Stretch due to being a flexor of the thigh.
It is a strong adductor of the leg and also plays a small role in flexing the thigh so, is stretching.
It is another flexor and adductor of the thigh. So, as seen above, the same happens to it.
Muscles Contracting to stabilize the Lifted Leg
The lifted leg has to hyper-flexed during the Heel Stretch and it needs stabilization. The hip flexors like Psoas helps in achieving this feat.
Works along with Psoas to stabilize the lifted leg.
Rectus Femoris is one of the Quadriceps that contracts in the lifted leg to cause flexion and stabilizes the leg.
Quadriceps Vastii has also a role in leg’s flexion at hip joint.
Tensor Fascia Latae:
This gluteal muscle also performs the role of flexing the thigh at the hip joint thus stabilizing the lifted leg.
Plantar flexors contract to produce plantarflexion and that is import movement to reduce tension in the lower leg region.
Muscles Contracting to stabilize the Standing Leg
Iliopsoas are flexors of the leg and in the standing leg they contract to make sure the standing leg doesn’t get hyperextended and by this, maintains balance.
All Adductors and Pectineus:
All Adductors in addition to being adductors also perform the function of hip flexors and Pectineus is also a flexor so they also maintain the position of the standing leg.
Rectus Femoris is another flexor of the hip so it also helps in stabilizing the standing leg.
Quadriceps Vastii also contract to resist the hyperextension of the leg and keeping the leg straight.
Gluteus Maximus and other extensors make sure, the flexors don’t overact and cause flexion of the standing leg so they also play a major role in keeping the leg straight.
Gluteus Medius is a prime abductor as well as assists in flexion and extension of hip.
Tensor Fascia Latae:
Tensor Fascia Latae is a flexor of the leg at hip joint so resists the extension of the hip over the limit.
All Muscles of the lower leg:
Lower leg muscles like dorsiflexors and plantarflexors make sure to stabilize the foot on the ground.
Core’s Muscles Stabilizing
Spinal Extensors contract to resist the flexion of the spine and thus, keeping the spine straight.
Obliques Heel Stretch:
Obliques when acting on both sides flex the trunk. So, they resist the over extension of the spine and make sure that the spine is straight during the Heel Stretch.
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The main function of Transverse Abdominis is to stabilize the spine and internal organs.
Rectus Abdominis Heel Stretch:
Rectus Abdominis is the most powerful flexor of the trunk and it will also make sure that the spine doesn’t get hyperextended and maintains the posture.
Quadratus Lumborum Heel Stretch:
Quadratus Lumborum is another stabilizer of the spine as well as the pelvis.