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.
The thing is a muscle may feel tense when it is in an elongated state. In other words, it’s all ready stretched out. In fact, it’s tired of holding on for dear life…it’s weak…and asking to please find a way to shorten me.
That muscle needs strengthened.
And stretching it could make it worse.
Muscles can also feel tense and be in a weakened, shortened state. Again, this muscle may need strengthened.
Now I’m not saying to go ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater.’ Stretching can ‘feel good’ and that’s important, but you should perform some type of strengthening or motor control exercise after the stretch.
Think about it…if that stretch gives you a few minutes where your pain is less (maybe even gone) that’s the perfect opportunity to do some strengthening when your body feels safe enough to do the exercise.
Believe me…I don’t think stretching is bad. There is just a time and place for it.
If you have been doing all your stretches then maybe you need to start strengthening or finding better ways to move after you stretch.
If you need help figuring out what would be best for you to do to help your tension and pain you might want to seek out an expert who can provide you with the best strategy for your unique situation.
Feel free to reach out to us here at Body Evolution Physical Therapy & Wellness. Drop in for a free 15-20 Discovery Session to find out if we can help.
(This blog is in reference to static stretching)
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.