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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There is a new treatment that is getting young people with knee problems back in the game.

“I was playing in my regional championship game for Slippery Rock roller hockey. I felt the pop. At first, I thought it was an ACL, MCL, meniscus. It was my last Nationals ever. So I really just wanted to play it off until the end of the season.

That Monday, I still couldn’t walk. I was dragging my right leg behind me. Tuesday, I went to get out of bed, still could barely walk,” said Nick Smith.

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Smith’s knee was worn out.

“In the back of my knee, I had, pretty much, a hole. And my bone was chipping,” Smith said. “I was getting really bad spurts of pain.”

“They get achy pain, they can have some catching, popping. A lot of times, a lot of pain along the joint line. And they can’t really go through with the activities they want to do,” said Dr. Brian Mosier, an orthopedic surgeon at AHN Forbes Hospital.

His doctor first wanted to see if it would heal itself. But the problem was bigger than that. He had something like a pothole in his cartilage called a defect.

“If you have a pothole in the road, you want to fix that by filling it,” says Dr. Mosier.

It’s the same idea for an operation called an allograft. Think of it as patching potholes in your knees, but instead of asphalt, doctors use a plug of cartilage and bone from a cadaver.

Turns out Smith was the perfect candidate for this type of procedure.

“A young, active person with kind of a focal cartilage defect on the weight-bearing surface of their knee,” Dr. Mosier said.

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But in order for it to work, the surrounding cartilage must be healthy. And the stakes are high.

“If the graft fails, then it would require a big revision,” said Dr. Mosier.

After the allograft, he started physical therapy right away.

“It’s healed really well. But I’ve also babied it a little bit, here and there, to make sure it heals well,” Smith said.

And the post-op x-rays looked so good.

“He was like, ‘I can’t even see where I did the surgery. It’s healing so well, I’m so happy,'” Smith said. “They were amazed with how much I could bend my leg. I got full motion back. You can’t necessarily promise that they’ll get back to the same level of activity, but you hope to maintain their activity status.”

“I’ve had 25-year-old guys come in using canes, and they’re going on getting back to the activities that they want to do,” said Dr. Mosier.

For Smith, that’s hockey, which he hopes to someday play again.

MORE NEWS: Brotherly Love: Northeast Philadelphia Man, Family Bringing Joy To Hundreds Of Children Through Bikes

It’s important to note you can’t have this surgery if you’re obese, a smoker or if you have any kind of inflammatory disease.

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9 of the best static stretches to improve flexibility, posture, and mobility

This article was medically reviewed by Joey Thurman, CSCS, CPT, FNS, a Chicago-based fitness expert and creator of Fast Results program. 

Medically Reviewed Reviewed By Check Mark Icon A check mark. It indicates that the relevant content has been reviewed and verified by an expert Our stories are reviewed by medical professionals to ensure you get the most accurate and useful information about your health and wellness. For more information, visit our medical review board. The yoga pose cobra is a great static stretch for the core and abdominal muscles. Oscar Wong/Getty Images
  • Static stretching is when you hold a stretching position for 30 to 60 seconds without moving. 
  • Static stretches are best for post-exercise while dynamic stretches should be done as a warm-up. 
  • Benefits of static stretching include improved flexibility, athletic performance, and reduced pain. 
  • Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice. 

If you feel the need to sprawl out and stretch after a long car ride or a good night's sleep, you should listen to your muscles. Static stretches, like bending over and touching your toes, can benefit your overall health by preventing injury and improving posture. 

We spoke to a physical therapist and a certified trainer to determine the benefits of static stretching and the best stretches for each muscle group. 

What is static stretching?  Related 5 health benefits of stretching: Why it's so important and how to stretch properly, according to physical therapists

Static stretching is when you hold a stretching position for 30 to 60 seconds without moving. This type of stretching elongates specific muscle groups and improves flexibility and mobility. 

Static stretching isn't just important for athletes or gym-goers. It's especially beneficial for people who stay in prolonged and sedentary positions throughout the day, like sitting behind a desk for hours at a time. This causes muscles to become tight which may lead to muscle pain, injury, and poor posture. 

If you sit all day and then perform an intense workout, or even just a task that requires more movement than your body is used to, you may be putting yourself at risk of being injured, says  Katherine Millis, a certified physical therapist and owner of Excelerate Physical Therapy. This happens because your body's muscle length and muscle tension will be unprepared from inactivity, she explains.

Other benefits of static stretching include: 
  • Reduced injuries by improving balance
  • Improved posture and flexibility
  • Reduced aches and pains
  • Enhanced athletic and exercise performance
  • Improved circulation
  • Relieve stiffness in older people

Latest research: A small 2018 study found static hamstring stretches helped reduce stiffness and improve balance in men over the age of 60. This also means static stretches reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries in older people. 

Static stretching also helps boost flexibility and athletic performance in younger people. A small 2016 study found soccer players who completed four hamstring stretches six days a week for a total of seven weeks significantly improved their 30-meter sprint speeds.

Important: Overstretching can happen if you stretch one muscle group too often or hold a stretch for too long, says Millis. This may cause some muscles to become too loose while others are too tight, leading to a greater likelihood of muscle sprains and strains.

The optimal amount of static stretching varies depending on a person's lifestyle and activity level and can be determined with the help of a physical therapist. In general, you should aim to stretch at least two or three times per week for each major muscle group.

Static vs. dynamic stretching 

Static stretching involves holding a position for 30 seconds or longer, whereas dynamic stretching involves movement.

"For example bending over and touching my toes is a static stretch. To make this stretch dynamic, I can start bending and straightening my knees while staying bent over," says Millis. 

Ideally, static stretches should be performed after training, and dynamic stretches should be performed before a workout, says Andy Speer, CSCS, NASM-CPT, a Peloton tread and strength instructor.

That's because dynamic stretches warm up muscles as they move your joints through their range of motion whereas static stretches lengthen muscles, making them ideal for a post-workout cool-down. 

9 static stretching examples 

Here are some examples provided by Speer of the best static stretches for each of the major muscle groups in your body. Hold each of these stretches for 30 to 60 seconds.

Important: Although stretching tight muscles isn't particularly comfortable, you shouldn't push yourself to the point of pain. Creating too much tension while stretching can also lead to muscle-related injuries. 

1. Hamstring stretch 

If you have a hard time pulling your leg up, use your hand or a towel for support. Crystal Cox/ Insider

How to do it

  • Lye on your back 
  • Lift one leg by gently pulling your thigh towards your chest with your hands, a towel, or a strap. 
  • 2. Hip flexor stretch 

    If you have trouble balancing, perform this stretch near a wall or rail. Crystal Cox/ Insider

    How to do it

  • Place one knee down and the opposite foot flat on the ground in front of you 
  • Tuck your hips and gently squeeze the glutes of your front leg. 
  • At the same time, gently push your hips forward without arching your back
  • 3. Back stretch 

    For a more intense stretch, extend both arms. Crystal Cox/ Insider

    How to do it:  

  • Kneel on all fours 
  • Place one arm in front of your body 
  • Place the other arm as far away from your centerline. 
  • Then, gently press your extended armpit towards the floor. 
  • Perform this stretch on each arm.
  • 4. Shoulder stretch 

    Crystal Cox/ Insider

    How to do it: 

  • While kneeling, place one hand on the floor in front of your body. 
  • Reach your other hand underneath your body, away from your centerline.
  • Gently press that shoulder to the floor. 
  • Perform this stretch on each arm.
  • 5. Glute stretch 

    For a more difficult stretch, place the same side arm on the inside of your knee. Crystal Cox/ Insider

    How to do it

  • In a seated position, extend one leg and cross the opposite leg over 
  • Placing that foot on the outside of your extended leg. 
  • Gently pull your bent knee and thigh towards your chest.
  •  Perform this stretch on each leg.
  • 6. Core stretch 

    You may do this stretch, called cobra, frequently during yoga. Crystal Cox/ Insider

    How to do it:  

  • Lie down with your chest down on the floor. 
  • Slowly push your shoulders and chest away from the floor until you feel a stretch in your abs. 
  • 7. Quad stretch 

    Crystal Cox/ Insider

    How to do it: 

  • Stand on one leg 
  • Pull the heel on your other leg up to your glutes.
  •  Keep a tall posture and an open hip angle. 
  • Perform this stretch on each leg.
  • 8. Chest stretch

    Chest stretch. Crystal Cox/ Insider

    How to do it:  

  • Lie down with your chest on the floor 
  • Place one arm out to the side, with your elbow just above your shoulder line. 
  • With your other arm, gently push your chest off the floor, feeling a stretch in the chest of your extended arm. 
  • Perform this stretch on each arm.
  • 9. TFL stretch 

    This stretch is also good for your IT band. Crystal Cox/ Insider

    How to do it: 

  • In a half-kneeling position, tuck your hips. 
  • Gently squeeze the glute on the knee-down side
  • Carefully push your hips forward without arching your back. 
  • Place the opposite hand in front of your foot on your front leg then twist your torso towards this front leg. 
  • Insider's takeaway 

    Static stretching can improve your flexibility, balance, and help prevent injuries. For best results, aim to stretch each muscle group at least two to three times a week. If you have questions about muscle tension or stretching, consider talking about your concerns with a physical therapist.

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