• Proper Stretching

  • Proper stretching is crucial since stretching reduces your risk of getting hurt and also alleviates tight muscles.

    Tight Muscles

    To begin, we need to understand why a muscle is tight. Muscles can be short and tight for many reasons, including:

    1. the muscle might be in a partially contracted state from posture or overuse
    2. the muscle is in an “on” state or is overly excited neurologically due to physical contraction
    3. adhesions may have formed in and around the joint and/or muscle causing restriction
    4. decreased blood flow, meaning less oxygen and nutrients (electrolytes), could have restricted proper muscular function

    Many stretching techniques are available to combat muscle tightness. In fact, all stretching methods can be effective, but there are a couple of tricks that can make proper stretching even more beneficial.

    Classic Stretching

    The classic stretch we learned in high school was just to stretch the tight muscle. This stretch is relatively ineffective because the tight muscle is still attempting to contract or is in a partially contracted state. While you will still gain some flexibility, the classic stretch is the least effective method for stretching. For example, try sitting on the floor with your legs extended fully in front of you, and touch your toes. Remember how far you reached. Now, take a big breathe (inhale for 2-5 seconds) and then slowly breathe out while attempting to touch your toes again. You will likely notice a big difference.

    Lesson: Muscles love oxygen! This is why when you go for a hike you breathe harder as your muscles are simply demanding more oxygen!

    Proper Stretching

    The techniques used for proper stretching are the most effective and should be used for all stretches.

    Once again, sit on the floor with your legs extended fully in front of you, but this time contract all your posterior muscles, that is your calves, hamstrings, and glutes. Take a deep breath and try to touch your toes. Again, you will likely notice a difference. This proper stretching technique is called “Contract-Relax-Passive Stretch” and should be used for all stretches.

    Proper Stretching Steps Summarized:

    1. Contract the muscle you want to stretch for 5-10 seconds
    2. Relax it for 1-2 seconds while taking a slow deep breath
    3. Stretch the muscle & hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds or less based on your tolerance/comfort
    4. Repeat 3-5 times or less, based on your tolerance/need
    5. Allow 30-60 seconds of rest between repetitions.

    Now you know the basics of proper stretching! As always, check with your trusted chiropractor if chiropractic adjustments can help with your pain or muscle tightness.  Choose chiropractic before medication and surgery and visit our website, like us on Facebook, Instagram, or call us for an appointment.