“Hey doc, can you teach me how to stretch better? I’ve been stretching for months now and it’s not helping.”
That’s the problem. Stretching isn’t working, why would you want to stretch more??
First off, despite what my staff thinks about me, I don’t hate stretching. No one in the health field hates stretching, BUT I don’t think it is a cure all and I definitely think it is often being used inappropriately.
Let’s review. “Tight” Muscles can be one of 4 different versions of tight. (For more information see 4 Reasons Why You Have Tight Muscles and What To Do About It or click the video on top.) The muscles can be too long or too short. In other words, contacted or stretched.
Both of these feel “tight”. In fact the word “tight” is the problem.
When I lecture I use my bicep as a visual – you try right now – make a muscle with your bicep. Pretty easy to see how that would represent a shortened, fattened version of “tight”. The opposite move – extending your arm all the way out, will really stretch the bicep…but it’s still “tight.”
That’s the point! Before you can correctly address the issue, you need to know what version of tight you are dealing with.
An OVERSTRETCHED tight muscle would definitely not benefit from further stretching may even slow down the healing time. I see this in the office nearly daily…long distance runners who have been stretching or rolling their IT bands and legs out for months with no change. Dude, stop…It’s not working!
As humans, we sit way too much. This position will commonly elongate the posterior side (the back side of the body.) It is already “overstretched” and the muscles need to be contracted. Not sure yet and are confused? Sit and see…How’s your posture?
Shoulders forward and kind of slumping all day – even with good posture the seated position is stretched. That’s right – your backside is stretched and all the extra stretching in the world won’t help this. Really, it all makes sense…the way you sit, drive, work, check Facebook and play with your kids leaves your body shortened in the front side and elongated on the backside.
I get it, stretching feels good. Extra Blood to the muscles always does, but if it’s not helping to get you back to the right shape, why are you doing it?
Feels good ≠ Fixing things. Therapy vs Therapeutic…And why you’re screwed.
Here is a simple 4 step “contraction” list of exercises to help re-balance your system. We call these fixes, “Hacks” – as in we’re hacking the body and nervous system by doing contractions (to the backside) and stretches (to the front side) at the same time to jump start the body back to correct form and posture. More importantly, we’re doing them appropriately to the right areas.
Try these for 2 weeks and see if you feel and move better and are better balanced from front to back. You have been over-stretching, stop it…
Lift weights, get stronger and re-balance the body.
Squat down a little and extend your arms out until you feel the chest stretch. Now contract your shoulder blades together like you are trying to squeeze a lemon between them. Hold for a few seconds. Do this 6-7x
This contracts a number of upper back muscles including traps, rhomboids, subs caps and levators.
REACH FOR THE STARS:
Raise your hands up and look back – hold for 4-5 sec.
Put your hand on your glutes. Now kick back one leg until that glute is contracted, do this 10x and repeat with the other leg 10x. Then do both glutes at the same time as if you’re trying to crack a walnut with your butt.
Put your legs on a stable chair and legs at 90 degrees. you’ve seen and done these ast the gym for decades to strengthen (tighten) the hip flexors. Stop -your hamstring need the work. Same position but dig in your heels and use your hamstrings to pull your body up – 2×10