Image credit((Source: “Woman stretching arms, legs, and back in outdoor setting.” Photo courtesy of Dominik Wycislo on Unsplash »))
Do you stretch often enough? Are you stretching properly?
Hands On Healing, located in Montgomery, Alabama, understands the importance and value of a comprehensive stretching regimen. As part of our Corrective Movement Program, we’ll teach you how to stretch so you can reap the maximum benefits from your stretching exercises and hands-on therapy.
Those that have come to Hands On Healing have probably been asked or heard us ask the question, “Do you stretch?”
We value stretching almost as much as massage and bodywork.
Let’s take a minute and describe one very important thing that most don’t know:
When you are stretching out your body, you are not actually stretching your muscles.
That doesn’t make sense but it is true.
A muscle is an extremely soft, supple, water based protein that will stretch 100 times its resting length.
This is not what is locking you in place. What you are stretching is the connective tissue called Fascia.
Fascia does not work like a muscle. It does not contract or tighten, it binds and or locks down. Think of Fascia more like shrink wrap than contracting muscle.
When Fascia is tight it will not allow for any movement and will create that tight binding feeling that does not allow for your body to move. It does have a property to it that is like elastic however.
This elastic property allows for some give but is restricted for tissue protection. If you bend down fast to pick something up from the ground you can go farther than if you move slowly.
There are varying forms of stretching that people have used over time.
Most people are taught the series that is 20-30 second stretches done for 10 repetitions. This way of stretching works, but has its flaws. Mostly this form of stretching works in the elastic barrier of Fascia. It will offer some space but as time passes it will return to its original position.
The form of stretching we prefer to give is to hold each stretch for a minute without break and doing that for 3 repetitions. The reasoning behind this comes from a fundamental understanding that Fascia has to have time to give. It can not be forced to change.
Under constant stretch Fascia builds up its own friction and will soften into itself. This form of stretching will create real length in a muscle and with continued repetition will create permanent change in the tissues.
There are other forms of stretching we know and teach that are not discussed here and if you are curious what they might be ask your therapist for more details.
The number one answer to the question, “Do you stretch?” is:
“Not as much as I should.”
Why is that the answer? Mostly because it takes time to do it and more time to do it right.
Take the time to do the stretches a couple times a week and you will notice huge gains in how you feel and the results from your sessions will last longer.