Rule #1: Warm Up
If you don't have a hot room or tropical location to stretch in that's ok, stretch after you've done some cardio. Even going for a short walk and doing some arm movements can warm up your muscles.
Rule #2: Hold It For A While But Not For Too Long!
To know if you need to do longer holds all you have to do is ask yourself if after doing dynamic warmups before activity and static stretches after you still feel tightness or restriction. Alternatively if during your normal daily routine you may also feel tightness or restrictions doing simple movements like putting your coat or socks on. At Granville Physio we'll be able to assess which joints have restrictions and what stretches would benefit you the most!
Rule #3: You Should Feel It A Little Bit!
The time when people most frequently stretch and they shouldn't is after sustaining sprains or strains (damage to muscle or ligaments). Often patients will say they felt something in their calf when running and tried to "stretch it out". When in doubt book in with one of Granville Physio's highly trained therapists to assess if you should be stretching.
Rule #4: Breathe!
That's right some of your back/neck pain could be attributed to the way you breathe.
Rule #5: Don't Bounce
Rule #6: Only Dynamic Stretches Before Activity
Here is a link to our blog on how to perform a dynamic stretch routine: Lower Body & Upper Body coming soon!
Rule #7: Static stretches after activity
Muscles that feel “tight” are not always the ones that need stretching. Short muscles usually require flexibility training. Tight muscles are often weak muscles or overworked muscles (if we ignore post-exercise soreness). Persistently stretching them may lead to increased fatigue (due to reduced peak power output) and lead to more “tightness” feelings. Strengthening “tight” muscles is often a very effective intervention to relieve that persistent tension feeling. Every week I see someone who “carries too much tension in their shoulders" – and they "stretch and stretch and it just won’t loosen up”. This is an excellent example of muscles that are likely overworked or lack endurance. Stretching is not likely to provide any long term resolution for this problem. Again the physios at Granville Physio can help you determine what strengthening or stretching you should be doing!
Rule #8: Don't Forget Your Nerves!
We now know that the nervous system controls our flexibility much more than we thought. Part of the limits of our flexibility is how much our nerves “put the brakes on” to protect our tissues from damage by excessive length or tension. This is part of our “danger” mechanism. There are receptors in our muscle spindles (muscle cells) and golgi tendon organs (stretch receptors in our tendons) that provide feedback to the nervous system and constantly drive a certain amount of tension that resists excessive length in the muscles. Remember your muscles do not do anything by themselves – they need the brain and the nerves to tell them what to do. When people are under general anesthetic (and their neural drive is turned right down) – suddenly they have excellent flexibility! Stretching is now thought to inhibit that neural drive, or modulate the “danger” response.
Rule #9: Release First!
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