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The Basics:

Too many people are stretching that don’t need to.

Many people are trying to solve a problem with stretching and it will never work because mobility issues are not the problem in the first place.

The answer to the question “Should I be stretching?” is the same as it is for “Is CPR good for you?” The answer is “Only if you need it.”

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Stretching can be a very helpful activity for those with mobility limitations (as long as it is combined with proper breathing). And mobility limitations don’t’ just randomly show up – they have causes as well. So if they are present you address the mobility limitation itself, as well as the cause of it, or it will just return over and over.

young-female-stretcher-thoughtMany people who have a nagging pain issue such as a sore lower back or sciatica or tight shoulders/upper back, etc. think that the best way to fix their problem is to stretch something, since the discomfort they have can often be described as a “tight” feeling. Granted, that might be a part of the solution, but it also might not have anything to do with what they need. Lots of times that “tightness” feeling is caused by the absence of stability, not mobility. You’ll never get over-active muscles to relax even if you stretch it two hours a day, until you turn on or activate the under-active ones. We see tons of people who are stretching every day to help something feel better and they are gaining absolutely nothing from it because their problem has to do with stability and strength, not mobility.

For all humans since the beginning of time, here is the hierarchy of movement abilities, in the order they are acquired or re-acquired.

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It is important that we gain or regain these in order because if you are attempting something above the level at which you are competent, for example trying to walk or run two miles a day when you don’t have basic trunk or hip stability, the only way for you to complete that movement task is to compensate and do something the wrong way. As you can see above, mobility is at the very beginning. There are very simple and effective ways to objectively measure mobility. You can measure all necessary mobility in two minutes. If it turns out that someone doesn’t have mobility limitations but they still have a pain issue like a sore lower back, the issue is above mobility in this movement hierarchy – most likely a combination of stability and strength. So if this person is trying to stretch the pain away, they are accidentally wasting their time. This person should work on stability and strength of the trunk/core/midsection and hips.

Activating stabilizers is often a much better “warm up” for exercise than stretching.

We see people all the time who have been to multiple other well intentioned specialists and they are still struggling. They got treatment, but it wasn’t the right treatment, or the complete treatment, for their problem. The correct programming can fix issues in a shockingly short period of time – even if these problems have been around for years. We see as many or more people whose issues are related to stability and strength deficits than we do those whose problems are caused by poor mobility. The only way you know is to start out with an assessment like the Functional Movement Screen that will tell you objectively and then move on from there. Ten people with the same pain symptoms can have ten different reasons for it so treatment is not one size fits all. If you are hyper-mobile like Gumby, you don’t need to stretch anything unless you’re just doing it for fun. Let’s get you some stability. Call us or email us so we can talk more! If you’re not in our area we still know who to put you in touch with. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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