The last blog was focused on dynamic stretching. This blog we will discuss what most people consider normal stretching (static). This is the type of stretching you will typically find on YouTube videos or most healthcare providers will prescribe to you.
These stretches are focused on effecting the muscles. These stretches are held for a shorter duration than myofascial stretching and longer than most dynamic stretches. Each stretch is held for about 30 seconds and often repeated several times for the same body part. While many believe they are lengthening the muscle what is happening is the muscle simply relaxes. This type of stretching has a short effect on the nervous system causing a relaxation response. Tense muscles are those that do not seem to relax. When you stretch not only do relax the muscles, but also allow improved blood flow and oxygenation. This benefit is found in all types of stretching.
Previously, in the last blog we focused on what we call myofascial stretching. To complete this blog series we will discuss what’s called dynamic stretching. This is a type of stretching you can easily find on YouTube and is often used for warm-ups prior to a workout.
These stretches are called dynamic because they involve movement. With dynamic stretching we are taking a muscle and putting length into it through movement and then shortening the muscle when moving back into the starting position. This type of stretching allows the muscle to move through its full range of motion. When stretching like this you are even able to strengthen the muscle because it is put under load. Dynamic stretching has been shown through research to be a preferred stretching method prior to a workout versus ‘normal’ stretching. ‘Normal’ stretching can be inhibitory to the muscles making them less reactive which is not something we want before sport or a higher-level activity.
In our last blog post we briefly discussed the use of stretching for reducing pain, increasing flexibility, relaxing the body, and improving the cardiovascular system. We touched upon finding stretches on YouTube and are they the best ones for you? Stretches can be done in different ways and have varying benefits. This blog post will focus on ‘myofascial’ type of stretching.
What is myofascial stretching? Myofascial simply means muscle and fascial stretching. Fascia is the connective tissue of the body that surrounds muscle tissue (and all other tissues and every cell of the body) and under a microscope can look like a spider webbing.
How could a fascia focused stretch be different than a muscle focused one? . That’s a great question.
Stretching is one of the first things people think to do when they are having pain and YouTube provides the answer. Sciatica?...YouTube says stretch the piriformis. Plantar fasciitis?…stretch the calf muscles. We agree that stretching can be a very effective way to reduce pain/discomfort, increase flexibility, and even improve the cardiovascular system. Stretching is a powerful tool to bring the body into better balance. But sometimes stretching the wrong muscle group or performing stretches incorrectly can make things worse. That’s why if your YouTube stretches aren’t working then you should find an expert who can give you the best stretches for what your body needs.
What many people don’t realize is that there are different ways stretching can be performed that have different effects on the body. The majority of people who stretch tend to hold a position for 30 seconds and repeat several times. This is one way to perform a stretch.
At Body Evolution Physical Therapy & Wellness we believe intention is key. When you start a stretching program what is your intention? Why are you stretching? Is it to reduce pain or gain mobility? Do you want to feel more relaxation? Stretching can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle and we want you to find what’s best for meeting your lifestyle goals.
Over the next several posts we will discuss different ways of stretching and why you might choose one over the other.
The first part of the series we will focus on myofascial stretching.
Don't hesitate to comment below or ask one of our therapists a question about stretching. We can help you get back to an active, healthy lifestyle.
It’s not uncommon for those painful areas in our body to feel ‘tight.’ And what better way to decrease tension than by stretching that area.
Butt pain – stretch the piriformis
Knee pain – stretch the quads
Ankle pain – stretch the calves
Low back pain – stretch the hamstrings
Don’t get me wrong…stretching those areas often does feel good. Of course it’s typically only for a few moments until you start moving again.
Stretching induces a relaxation response in the muscle. It is short-lived, but feels good in the moment.
That moment of feeling good can be enough for us to think the stretches are really helping…even though the symptoms never really change.
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.