Today I get in conversations with clients and family about what they should do for their back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain or hip pain and most of the time their thoughts are on what stretches are the best? Somewhere along the way we were given information that stretching could solve our problems and that simply isn’t true. Very rarely does someone get better by doing a certain stretch… Short term relief is the best that most people can hope for and short term is likely only for a few minutes, but most of the time people think they are just doing the “wrong stretch”.
I don’t deny that stretching is necessary for a healthy body to continue functioning but most of the time “we”, me included aren’t doing a full body stretch or stretch routine that is helpful in the long run. We are just trying to stretch a certain area that feels tight and the thoughts are that if we stretch enough then that tight muscle will loosen up! Right????
Does the pain relief you get from stretching last or does it just fade away shortly after you are done?
Here at our clinic we have seen a steady influx of people asking about “the best” stretches to fix their current condition but the truth is that no stretch can heal an orthopedic injury. None, ever… They just don’t exist because stretching a tight muscle is not an effective way to make it less tight. If a muscle is tight then there is a good chance that it is also weak and that is where the problem lies. A weak muscle will tighten up to try and create stability, then it will cause discomfort and a lot of times pain because it never releases. Once that muscle gets caught up like that, then we start to lay down collagen all around it which adds to the muscles inability to loosen up. It becomes a dysfunctional loop of tight, weak muscles with adhesions all around them that cause it stay even tighter.
If that loop gets started, then a stretching program is never going to interrupt the loop because the muscle started to tighten up for a reason. Figuring out the reason your muscles started to tighten up in the first place is where you will see the biggest results and that is the only way for you to interrupt the loop at its source.
Back pain will never get better by stretching the back, shoulder pain will never get better by stretching the shoulder and most of the time people are just spinning their wheels trying to do stretches to weak, irritated muscles. If you have problems with back, shoulder, knee or neck pain and I’ve described how you feel after doing stretches then don’t hesitate to reach out or download one of my guides on healing those injuries. They are extremely helpful in starting to heal your injury at the source and explaining WHY your pain got started in the first place.
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Dr. Jonathan Ruzicka PT, DPT, FAAOMPT
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