Stretching for flexibility and pain relief: the pluses and minuses!
Minuses! Are there any minuses to stretching? Yes, there are….let me explain.
All muscles originate on one bone, we’ll call the bone that is at the beginning of the muscle the “stationary bone,” then the muscle tendons cross over a joint and insert into another bone we’ll call the “moveable bone.”
When the muscle contracts (shortens) it pulls on the tendons, and they pull on the moveable bone where they are inserting. This is how all joints move.
Let me demonstrate with the biceps muscle in your upper arm. Your biceps originate in two different places:
The “long head” is deep inside your shoulder joint, and the “short head” is on a bone at the top of your shoulder called the coracoid process of your shoulder blade.
Your biceps tendon crosses over the inside of your elbow joint and inserts into the bone in your forearm.
When your biceps contract, you bend your elbow so you can touch your shoulder.
Notice that your triceps, on the back of your arm, are having to totally stretch to allow this movement.
Imagine what will happen if your triceps won’t stretch.
You won’t be able to bend your arm, and your elbow will hurt. You may decide that you need to stretch your triceps – but this is where the “minus” comes in!
The “minus” of stretching for flexibility when your muscle is tight.
When you repetitively use a muscle, in this case the triceps, the fibers will build up a toxic waste called hydrogen ions (H+). We used to think of it as Lactic Acid, although science has changed that to H+ for reasons that are too long and scientific to go into here, but are explained very thoroughly in this article.
The buildup of H+ causes the muscle fibers to spasm and become painful, tying them into knots that are shortening the muscle fibers. The fibers are now short, but they are still originating and inserting in the same place. This causes a strain on the bone, usually at the insertion point.
If you had a 12″ length of rope and tied enough knots in it to make it 11″ and then consider what would happen to the rope if you tried to stretch it back to 12″ without first untying the knots. The knots would get tighter and the fibers outside of the knots would be overstretched. This is what happens to your muscles when you stretch without first releasing the spasms. It is the main reason you may feel worse after stretching than you did before you stretched.
Also, since the fibers are now short, they can’t lengthen enough to allow the joint to bend. In this example, the buildup of H+ in the triceps has shortened the triceps and prevents them from lengthening. You either think you need to strengthen your biceps, or you think you need to stretch your triceps.
Rarely does anyone think about first releasing the spasms, and then stretching the muscle fibers. Yet this is exactly what needs to be done if you plan on stretching for flexibility and pain relief.
How to Release the Spasms that are Preventing You From Stretching Safely.
As I mentioned, when you try to stretch you are now causing the knots in the muscles to become more complicated, and you are overstretching the fibers on either side of the knot.
However, if you release the spasm by putting direct pressure on it, you will force out the H+ ions, and nourishing blood will fill the void. You’ll feel the burn as the ions are passing through the fibers, but as you press and release, the burn will lessen until it totally disappears. Now you can be safely stretching for flexibility without injuring any of the muscle fibers.
The Perfect Stretching For Flexibility Package:
Two products that will demonstrate how you can safely release the spasms and then start stretching for flexibility
The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution
Specifically written to focus on each muscle that causes back pain. THE 15 MINUTE BACK PAIN SOLUTION explains in detail why the muscles from the middle of your back to your knees will cause low back and hip pain, including sciatica and what to do to relieve the pain. An easy-to-read eBook that has a step-by-step program you can do in 7 Days.
This is the perfect way to prepare your muscles so you can stretch for flexibility!
The comprehensive stretching program covers all aspects of releasing the spasms that have shortened the muscle fibers, and then guides you through a safe stretching routine using proven yoga-style postures.
Focused Flexibility Training has three DVDs that:
- Demonstrates how to do every Julstro self-applied treatment taught in Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living.
- Two 30 minute yoga-style stretching programs for the upper body
- Two 30 minute yoga-style stretching programs for the lower body.
Both 45 minute stretching programs start with a 15 minute routine of Julstro self-applied treatments that focus on the muscles being stretched in that DVD and then continues on to 30 minute guided stretching
Focused Flexibility Training also comes with a Julstro Perfect Ball and a Bamboo Stick Massager to provide all the tools you’ll need to be safely stretching for flexibility.
With just a bit of time and focused attention on safely stretching, you will be able to get back to living your life without joint pain and with more flexibility than ever before – it’s easy and it feels great!
Wishing you well,