Stretch & Joint Mobility Therapy

Annette Fletcher
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Athletic Stretch

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I am a daily exerciser, and although I do a lot of yoga, I believe that it can also be important to incorporate more traditional types of stretching into my fitness regimen, especially given that I've had some problems with lower back pain as well as various other aches and pains as I've gotten older (I'm now in my mid-40s). I did have another DVD by this instructor, Save Your Lower Back, and while that DVD was generally well-done, I found that overall, what it offered was too similar to other DVDs in my collection. So, using Amazon's Trade-in program, I decided to swap that DVD for this one.

Annette Fletcher, a certified fitness instructor with a background in Pilates, teaches three different routines on this DVD. On the Main Menu, you will find options for Welcome (a short overview by Fletcher), Joint Mobility: Head to Toe, Dynamic Stretch, Static Active Stretch, and then options to find out more about Fletcher, her DVDs, and Credits/Disclaimer. For all three of the stretch segments, Fletcher teaches live. She is alone in a large studio, and the only equipment is a mat. I have described each section in greater detail below.

JOINT MOBILITY (22 minutes)
Fletcher starts with a brief introduction to this type of stretching, explaining how joint mobility uses larger movements to improve range of motion. Beginning standing, she starts with the neck, first moving the head side-to-side, then twisting the next to either side, sliding the chin forward and back, and finishing with neck rolls. Moving down the body, she performs shoulder shrugs, shoulder circles, elbow circles, and wrist circles. Continuing to move down the arms, Fletcher moves the hands in and out and the fingers in and out. She finishes the upper body with shoulder joint rotations and several variations on arm swings. Starting with the torso, Fletcher circles the rib cage, then moves lower for hip circles. This is followed by hip joint rotations (knee circles) with balance and then a double knee circle. Coning to lying on her back, Fletcher performs ankle circles and toe stretches. She then moves to all fours for cat/cow, also doing some rocking in this position as well as a wrist stretch. Lying on the belly, Fletcher stretches the low back first by raising the chest, then by raising the legs as well. Finally, she comes to a seated position for a dynamic flow from seated staff pose to upright table and back again; this is repeated several times.

Fletcher states at the beginning that these are more active stretches; she implies that they might be used prior to a workout. Starting with the feet in a second position, she performs pulsing side bends, moving into torso circles. Moving to the side, she moves from a knee dip into a calf stretch and then a torso reach and pull before repeating these two moves on the second side. Next, Fletcher comes back into a wide stance for moving side-to-side lunges. This is followed by coming in and out of a low squat position. Fletcher then comes down to the mat for downward facing dog. After pedaling in down dog, she does a flow from down dog to plank and then down dog to forward bend, moving through this several times. She then holds the down dog, reaching to the opposite calf in a three-legged balance. Coming back to standing, Fletcher performs a rear lunge with a twist. This is followed by what she calls a three-way hip stretch but what is really more of a balance challenge: she first brings the knee forward and holds, then brings the leg behind in a quad stretch, then raises the leg behind in dancer's pose. Next comes what Fletcher calls a spiderman plank, which is like a alternating gecko lunge. Finally, she comes down to her back on the mat for some abs work, including a reclined twist and rolling like a ball that optionally evolves into the rollover.

This segment is made up of more traditional stretches that would most likely be performed post-workout; Fletcher recommends holding each stretch 15-30 seconds. She again begins standing, first for a side stretch, then an inner thigh stretch in a plie position. She moves into a lunge to stretch the hip flexor, offering several different options here. This is followed by hamstring stretches, including runner's lunge and pyramid pose. Coming to seated, Fletcher performs a seated cross-legged forward bend, a seated twist, and seated one-leg straddle, repeating these three moves on the other side to finish.

I liked this DVD overall. I definitely thought that the Joint Mobility segment was the best--I felt great after doing this! The Dynamic Stretch segment was okay, but it was done in a way that is definitely NOT going to be accessible for everyone, making it mainly appropriate for more experienced exercisers only. (Personally, I enjoy dynamic stretching, but I would prefer a routine such as Classic Stretch or Jill Miller's Yoga Tune Up Post Athletic Stretch Routines.) I did like the last segment and could see using it post-workout. However, I tried it on a day that my back felt stiff, and it did very little to address this, as it is more lower-body focused.

So, while I did like this DVD and I would recommend it, I found it to have a few shortcomings as well.

Instructor Comments:
I like Annette just okay as an instructor. She's fine, but a little to scripted or something (I'm not quite sure what) for my tastes. She does a decent job instructing here, although these routines feel a bit uneven to me--i.e., I think she should have made them more accessible to all levels.

Beth C (aka toaster)