The Hatfield Strap featured on Cycle Tech Review
By Dan Saunders
The Hatfield Strap
It’s no secret that cycling and just training in general can wreak havoc on the body. Long hours in the saddle in a somewhat-limited-movement-position that often focuses on the legs more than anything else can really lead to some aches and pains. Working on increasing or maintaining your flexibility is a key to staying comfortable on the bike. The Hatfield Sit Strap is a tool for doing just that in the lower half of the body.
So, just what it is the Hatfield Sit Strap? It’s a 4” nylon/polyester strap that sells for $35 through www.hatfieldstrap.com. In order to use it, you unroll it and sit on it to anchor the strap in place. Run it under your leg and over your toes, grasp the handles and apply rearward pressure, and it supplies a stretch to the foot and calf. Since you have the strap essentially in your hands, you have complete control over the amount of force applied during the stretch. The flexible nature of the strap also means that it stretches the foot more completely than the old “wall” stretch.
In using the strap, I definitely felt a good stretch in the foot and calf. While I do not have plantar fasciitis as this was initially designed to help with, it seemed like it was easy to get a nice relaxed stretch across the bottom of the foot under the arch from the big toe to the heel. I’ve always had plenty of luck achieving the same results against a wall, but we are all built a little different and perhaps this would make a bigger impact for someone else.
What I REALLY liked the Hatfield Strap for was in getting to the hamstrings. Laying on my back, grasping the handles and using the strap to raise the foot up and apply the stretch to the hamstring was easier than grabbing the back of my knee, calf, or using a towel over my foot. It gave a deep stretch that I usually only get when I have someone else push.
One other thought came into my head as I was using this – this would be great for someone who had a limited range of motion issue. Sore back, shoulder, tweaked bicep….anything that would keep you from reaching for your toes in a stretch for the hamstring or calf. The more you are able to keep moving, the better; so keeping things loose and limber even when other parts of the body may be knackered can help a person keep moving.
The Hatfield team also shipped me the shoulder strap to try out. I can see how this $12 accessory is a useful addition. By taking the necessity of using your hands to hold onto the strap out of the equation, you’re able to just lean back and ease yourself into the stretch. And, in some cases, you’re able to apply additional pressure by using the shoulder than just your hands/arms/handles making this something to definitely consider adding on to the purchase of the strap…especially considering if you buy it in combination with the strap, the total will come to $42, saving you $5…enough for that pint at the pub after the ride.
While it may seem overkill to use additional equipment just to stretch, there is no substitution for being able to give a good stretch to a tight calf or hamstring. The Hatfield Strap does a great job of addressing this very important muscle group and is certainly worth a shot of you have difficulties stretching the calf, foot, or hamstring.
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