Why Your Stretching Isn’t Working

Do you have to stretch or loosen up 30-45 minutes before actually warming up for your workout in order to feel like you can move?  Doing this every so often is not a bad thing, as sometimes it is needed, but when you are doing this every time, something is wrong.  Essentially, you are not addressing the underlying issues.

Let me clarify something before I get started.  Stretching is not bad.  Mobility is not bad.  I am a big proponent for both in order to decrease risk of injury.  In fact, I work on my own mobility consistently.  It is what allows to me train and compete at the level that I do.

What I often see, though, is someone taking 30-45 minutes every training session before starting their actual warmup in order to get “loosened up” first.  It is one thing if you had a killer workout the day before that left you super tight in certain areas and you need a little extra time to get those areas moving better, I’ve been there myself at times.  It is when you are loosening up the same thing before every workout that it becomes an issue.

As you work on your mobility, the mobility should gradually improve over time and remain in the improved mobility state.  To give you an example, four years ago, my hips, ankles, and upper back were very tight and stiff.  I spent 15 minutes a day working on them until I got them to the point that I could move like I needed to in order to hit all the positions with the different movements in CrossFit.  Now, I am able to maintain that motion by working on it once a week on my active recovery day.

So why isn’t yours doing the same thing?  Because at the core, it is not a mobility issue.  It is a stability issue, meaning the muscles that support the joint(s) are weak and therefore unable to do their job.

Here’s what happens…

The majority of our joints have “mover” muscles and “stabilizer” muscles.  The mover muscles are the big ones that we all know how to strengthen – think quads, hamstrings, glutes, biceps, triceps, deltoid…you get the point.  The stabilizer muscles sit deeper to the bigger mover muscles, are much smaller, and basically surround the joint.  Most people do not know how to strengthen these muscles properly.

When the stabilizer muscles are weak, the only way the body can stabilize the joint is by tightening the muscles up.  Hence, you feel the tightness in your joint and the need to mobilize frequently.  You can mobilize, stretch, and smash all you want, but until you start to strengthen those stabilizer muscles, you will continue to have the same “mobility” problems.

If you resonate with this, it is time to switch things up.  Stop focusing on your mobility and start focusing on getting the stabilizer muscles stronger.

As a bonus, those nagging injuries you keep getting might just go away once you address the stability issue as well!

Not sure what you need to do to address your specific issues?  Email me at brianne@getyourfixpt.com for help.

 

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