Can you relate to this scenario?
You feel tight or are experiencing pain somewhere. You do stretches for the area, which seem to help, but only temporarily. As long as you do the stretches daily, you are able to do all the things you want to do. If you do not stretch, you are unable to function as you would like.
This situation happens to a lot of people. If you have not personally experienced it, you likely know someone who has.
Time to talk about why this is happening and how you can make your stretching more effective.
What happens when you stretch
When you stretch, you are elongating tissues. Most likely you are stretching out the muscle, but at times you are impacting other soft tissues in the process. When you do that, you allow the area to move better, which is a great thing.
The problem with this, though, is your body feels safe where it was. It does not know what to do with the extra motion you have created by stretching. It does not know how to control the motion after you have lengthened the tissues and allowed the joints to move better. Because of that, after a short time the body tightens back up again. That’s why you get temporary relief, but not long-term relief, with stretching.
How to make stretching more effective
What will make your stretching more effective is using the motion and strengthening the area either while you stretch or after you stretch. That way the body not only moves better, but it also learns how to control that motion you have given it.
You can accomplish this in one of two ways:
One way is do you passive stretching and then follow it up with exercises to use the motion. For example, if your calves feel tight, do some stretches to loosen up the lower leg. Then follow that up with several exercises to use the ankle range of motion you just gained, such as squats, step downs, or isometric or eccentric heel drops.
Another way to do it, and the way I personally prefer because it addresses both aspects at the same time, is to do active stretching. By doing active stretching you are both elongating the tissues and teaching the body how to control the motion through the range and at the end range. After that, you still want to do other exercises to load the joint and use the motion.
Once you start using one of these methods, you will likely start noticing your tightness decreasing and your pain reducing. Eventually you will not need to be stretching daily just to function.
Have more questions about your specific situation? I would love to talk with you. Schedule a Discovery Call to figure out what you need to do to resolve your issues.
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