Stretch or Don’t Stretch?
Ever wake up in the morning feeling stiff? Or decided to go run around with your kids only to pull a muscle and spend the rest of the week regretting your decision? Conventional wisdom tells us we should stretch whatever muscle is bothering us. Not only is this often a short term solution to the issue, it also may be ineffective at best, and detrimental at worst. In this article we’ll discuss the four most common situations for why people stretch and why you should really think twice before doing so.
Why We Stretch
Typically, the need for stretching is motivated by four circumstances. We’ve written the answer our for you, but read on or watch the video to see the why, how, and what behind it.
- Muscle Spasm : Yes and No
- Pulled Muscle : No
- Muscle Soreness/Stiffness : Yes
- Increase Flexibility : Yes and No
We’ve all experience a situation like this before. Maybe you get up in the morning or from sitting from a long period of time, and your back locks up on you. This is an over stimulation of the nerves that connect to the muscle tissue, causing it to fire and contract improperly. Instead of stretching the lower back, we’re going to stretch the hip flexors, then activate the glutes and core to remove tension from the lower back. Check out this video to see how!
The hamstrings and calves are usually most responsible for this area of discomfort. You go to do something abruptly and, BOOM, you pull a muscle. Stretching might sound like a good idea, but it’s actually counter intuitive. A pulled muscle is a microscopic tear in the tissue, and stretching it won’t promote the healing process as effectively as foam rolling and light resistance work.
After a hard workout, both immediately after and later on, it’s extremely beneficial to stretch. Doing so promotes blood flow to aid in the recovery process, while regaining adequate ranges of motion in the tissue that may have been temporarily diminished. However, this stretch should be a light to moderate stretch for a short duration (no longer than 30 seconds). Check out the video to see why!
This is one of those “it depends” situations. If you have temporary flexibility issues, like when you have tight calves and quads after a run, stretching will help. However, if you can’t touch your toes, or scratch your back, this is more than a flexibility problem.
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