Bad back? Stretch your hamstrings! Knees hurt? Stretch your IT band! Hips hurt? Stretch your hip flexors!
This has been peddled about for years and the go to for dealing with soreness, pains, lack of mobility in various joints.
But it doesn’t work. It’s pretty useless, unless you address the biomechanical problem as well.
Although I've used taking up running as an analogy further on, truly this can apply to anybody just going about daily living.
Something else to consider is that not everything you stretch is a muscle!
You have a ton of connective tissue that also can get in the way of good movement and sound joint mobility. But some of this doesn’t need to be stretched at all..in fact it will cause you a whole new ton of problems if that gets pulled on pointlessly.
What needs to be addressed is not the supposedly ‘tight’ muscles, but the whole system around the area that is causing problems. That means looking at..
Addressing motor control Tissue mobility Muscle Dynamics
By addressing these areas you are now looking at the joint more holistically and can effect long term change that will get that problem area working in the way it was designed to, not the way its currently functioning because the restrictions imposed on it by your crappy lifestyle habits, injuries, or any other reason for its lack of correct movement.
What Does This Mean For You?
Put simply if you can get into the optimum position, move with correct form you reduce the risk of overuse injuries to practically zero.
Sadly that’s rarely the case unless you have access to the best sport science people and even then professional sports people will work through pain if there is a competition at stake.
Remember that your body adapts and adopts to your every day requirements. If that’s sitting at desk for 8 hours, then sitting in the car to go home, then sitting to eat, watch tv etc, that’s what your body is trained for. If you then ask it to do something that requires a far greater range of movement than its used to, or even worse, greater range of movement AND load it with weight, its going to complain.
Maybe you started running thinking all this sitting around is not good for me!
Maybe you are ok for the first couple of miles, then you get hip pain or knee pain, or your ankles start to scream.
It means you are good to run for a short period, but after that your crappy biomechanics can’t support your insistance of running without sorting it out, so pain hits as your body breaks down yet again as you try and push through it.
Stretching is not going to sort this out. It might help with the pain a bit, but go out and run again, and what do you know..back comes the pain again after 4 miles.
Learning where the poor biomechanics are and fixing that will allow you to run well without putting joints at risk of injury. It will allow to run faster and longer because you are no longer putting your joints under pressure with poor joint mechanics.
Yes the hip might get tight from running, but that’s normal and can be stretched out correctly with other mobilising techniques to keep that joint capsule moving as it was intended.
Good movement, correct technique is not something you can take or leave. It's simply the way a human body is designed to move. Not addressing all the areas of issue cannot fix the problem. Understanding that allows you to incorporate them in your fitness or rehab programme.
Any joint restriction means a 'give' somewhere else in the body. That area of 'give' is now doing WAY more work than it should do. Another possibility for pain.
Take the shoulder joint for example on someone who's spent years at a keyboard, drives home, sits on the sofa, spends a few more hours a day texting, surfing the net on same said phone or tablet.
That someone could have been doing this since a child having started with gaming. They are now in their late 20's.
They have now spent many thousand hours with their arms held in front of them, their head bent forward and their back curved backwards. Yes their shoulder joint is going to be heavily restricted, but you can't improve that without considering the rest of their body. They will need to address their spinal curvature and those hips are going to need work too.
It all links up.
So a combination of working to mobilse the shoulder joint, open the chest whilst strengthening the spine, and don't forget the bum will get this person to a much better place and a healthier body..no amount of just stretching is going to fix this.
So really just stretching is not going to sort anything out long term, it takes a whole body approach to do something that will last and last.
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