Stretching Is Out

Even Fido Knows

You've probably been told that stretching is good for you.  After all, our pets do it too.  Right?

You'll still see it on TV with professional athletes.

Or at a playground with someone running up to help someone with a calf cramp.

No Real Evidence

Contrary to the popular myth that we need stretching.  There is No Real Evidence that it does what it claims?

Is it good or bad for us?

“Science has moved on... many athletes warm-up regimes are not only a wast of time, but actually bad for you.  The presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds-known as static stretching-primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong.  It actually weakens them." William Holcomb, Phd, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Shouldn't I stretch to avoid muscle injury?

By the way, this isn't new news...

 

Don't I Have or Need to Stretch After Exercise?

Nope, not really.

Once again, stretching fails.

You may feel sore after over doing exercise.  Or when you are doing a new physical activity.

DOMS - delayed muscle onset soreness has been an area of concern for many.

Not just athletes.  Many people like myself, who lived with fibromyalgia/chronic pain.  Everyday sore muscles, par for the course.

See more on the myth of stretching.

Should I Stretch a Sore Muscle?

You could end up creating a bigger problem.

You mean I don't have to do this to stretch my back?

Not necessary to stretch like this

Yes. You do not have to stretch your back in this manner.

Look, I get it.  People will swear by it.  They'll tell you it feels good.  Keeps them out of trouble, etc.

Again, look at the claims.

The Stretch Reflex

In fact, if you stretch your back like that, you could turn on what is called the stretch reflex.

Waaay back when, 1936.

Mabel Todd was stretching athletes who were stiff, tight and contracted.  As a result, the athletes got tighter.

What Muscles Do & Where the Message is Coming From

Here's the thing.

Last I checked, muscles receive information from the brain or spinal cord to contract.  Or generate tension.

Brain to Muscle Connection via the Nervous System

They don't ever get a message to stretch.

Now I get it that you might feel like you want to stretch.

So if you feel like stretching.  Certain muscles either feel stiff, tensed up.  Or you know you gotta move something some which way to feel a little more comfortable.

The fact remains - a muscle or groups of muscles are designed to contract.

Good Thing Bad Thing

The stretch reflex you see, can be a good thing and a bad thing.

When you quickly pull your hand away from a hot stove.  That's the stretch reflex acting in super fast mode so you don't burn yourself.

You don't have to think about it since it's a spinal cord event.

When you push for range of motion, or move quickly enough or even innocently enough when you reach for a glass... and ouch! you turn on a muscle spasm.

The negative side of the stretch reflex is talkin' to you.

It serves to pull you back most likely due to high tension levels.

Aight?  (Street talk for alright.)

After you stretch your back.  The brain will reset the pre-programmed level of tension you were living with.

That's why it doesn't take much of any movement with high tension levels to turn up the volume to get your attention.

But My Cat and Dog is Stretching. NO!

Contrary to popular belief, they are doing something else.

Animals with a spine actually do this.

Divorce Counselor for Stretching Says Give It Up

Look, I used to stretch for up to 2 hours per day.  Didn't change the pain or help me loosen the stiffness.

Here's my take on it and how we can use our muscles in a different way.

Learning something truly new with intense focus will create the changes in the brain."  Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself.

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The Movement Information System

The brain-muscles-fascia-bones-tendons-ligaments is a system of movement.  It is intimately coupling the carrier of the information, the nervous system.

The information processing system of neurons in the nervous system

This lets you tune into, dial in or feel how much stiffness, tension, and freedom you feel.

Sensing and Feeling

You can become intimately aware of what you feel or notice. How the brain organizes and re-organizes "the act of movement itself".

You can really go down further and deeper down the rabbit hole of the body experienced from within.

The old, traditional approach of stretch, stretch, stretch, is sadly behind the times in preparing our bodies for strenuous activities and in rehabilitating injuries and the discomforts that impede our life.

Since our muscles were designed to contract, isn’t it logical that contractile applications will facilitate their true preparation for activity and bring them back into a state of normality when they have been injured or linger in discomfort.

- Timothy Berger, BA, MA, RN, ATC. Professor of Sports Science, Muskingum University

It's an awareness, that even Fido knows.

ed-barrera-hanna-somatic-educator-holistic-health-advisorEd Barrera is a Hanna Somatic Educator®, H.S.E., Holistic Health Advisor, H.H.A., Muscle Balance & Function Development Trainer, M.B.F.

Ed is the author of Move Like an Animal:  Feel Comfortable, Move Well for Life in 3 Simple Steps, Amazon Bestseller in Pain Management & Aging.  

Ed lived with chronic pain and fibromyalgia in his 20's & 30's, so he appreciates the long road out and can help you shortcut your way back to feeling comfortable for life.

Ed has over 15 years of experience, helping people find natural pain relief with somatics exercises which are the complete reverse to most approaches since we use conscious gentle body movements that targets the brain’s motor cortex, resets the nervous system, and provides deeper states of relaxation which leads to a healthy, fully-functional body.

Essentially it's motor control exercises (MCE), mindful-based stress reduction (MBSR)and progressive relaxation all rolled into one which now the American College of Physicians (ACP) are saying is "the first thing to do relieve pain".

Muscle lengthening, recovery, relaxation and control are restored by this "alternative to exercise” approach; plus it's natural pain relief that actually works!

Learn more about our mindful movement classes.