While there seems to be a seemingly endless supply of items that announce "the best way to stretch," in truth, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for stretching. In fact, the appropriate application of stretching techniques may be different for each client, depending on the needs and goals of the client and at what point of training the stretching is being performed.
Strains for corrective exercises and performances are not necessarily different or conflicting concepts. It is not uncommon to work with an athlete of any age and skill level who performs well but is struggling with chronic or recurring injuries. Once this customer is dismissed by their doctor, your program design must include a combination of flexibility and stability exercises to create a good foundation for strength and strength gains.
You may be familiar with many types of stretch, including proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), pin and stretch, myofascial release on the foam roller, ballistic stretching, and static stretching, to name but a few. Everyone has an important place if used appropriately. This blog focuses on two basic stretching concepts that will help you make sense of stretching in your program design.
Why does your customer have to stretch? This seems like a stupid question, but starting with a clear view of why your customer needs to stretch dictates an important first step. Two basic starting points for a solid foundation on which to build strength and strength are posture and flexibility.
- Make a Differences in Attitude: Your client has noticed or has referred a postural imbalance to a chiropractor, physiotherapist, or sports coach leading to movement disorders. A common example of this is the hyperlordotic attitude in athletes who have to deal with recurring back pain.
- Improve Mobility: An athlete struggling with chronic injury needs to work progressively to improve activation and stretching of muscle fibers for maximized reflex contractility
Depending on the needs of your clients, you will use different techniques apply in different phases of their exercise plans.
In identifying a postural difference, it is possible that the practitioner does so identified the imbalance as a catalyst of recurrent injury. It is not uncommon for the discrepancy itself to be caused by surgery or injury. Acute or chronic injuries or surgical procedures of any kind result in scar tissue, which reduces the elasticity of the soft tissue.
Another reality after injury is the disruption of the neurological responsiveness of the muscles. This change in the neurological response will temporarily affect strength, reaction time, and proprioception. If not, other muscles will compensate for this deficit, resulting in a chronic imbalance. When working with athletes it is also important to know that pregnancy has an effect on the ligament and muscle structure. Returning to sports after pregnancy without proper muscle building and structural balancing can lead to postural imbalances leading to injury.
When treating a postural imbalance with stretching, the shortened muscles must first be clearly identified. To restore the range of motion, identify an extension that extends the muscle toward the muscle fibers. In this case, you want to increase the length of the muscle and soft tissue surrounding the muscle, fascia, and tendon tissue. This route should be kept to a comfortable limit for your customer. Pain during stretching produces an inhibition that counteracts stretching. Let your customer hold this route for as long as he or she can tolerate and progress for longer dwell times. This type of stretch creates a static stretch of the soft tissue, and the results begin when the stretch is held for one minute and lasts up to three minutes. Warming the fabric prior to holding allows for more comfortable stretching and may result in faster results, but the results also occur when the fabric is not preheated. If your client also has scar tissue, it is advisable to work with a masseur or physiotherapist who is familiar with soft tissue clearance.
Let's return to the previous example of the hyperlordotic athlete struggling with back pain. This posture is often the result of a tight hip flexor complex. Choosing a Thomas Stretch or Kneeling Hip Elbow Extension are both excellent positions to extend this fabric. The Thomas Stretch is a more passive position and could be an excellent starting point if the kneeling hip flexor extension is too intense or possibly uncomfortable on the lower back.
It is important to note the long, static hold of this type. Stretching can work wonders to lengthen the tissue, but also to shut down the nerve stimulation impulses. For this reason, it is best to perform a slow and thorough warm-up through a series of movements of this joint to awaken the nervous system and work toward more ballistic movements before applying the requirement for ballistic, coordinated training. [1
Mobility is the ability to move freely within the required range of motion. Flexibility is also about elasticity, both in terms of soft tissue lengthening and reflex soft tissue shortening. For athletes, mobility is important to maximize the use of force.
Unlike static tissue elongation, agility is all about movement, so the type of stretch to increase agility is logically motion-based as well. To improve mobility, an athlete must move safely and in a controlled manner within the range of motion that you are trying to increase. By providing a predictable environment in which the body can move through the necessary range of motion, it provides the body with a secure, repeatable stretch that allows the soft tissue to productively adapt to the controlled load. Conversely, when an athlete is prematurely put into an exercise or game scenario to move through the same range of motion, the soft tissue is not ready for this type of congestion.
The other advantage of the Agility exercise is that you simultaneously train the body for strength and stability. By providing light stimulus and progressive overloading, allow the body to build up strength and proprioceptive awareness across the entire range of motion.
Here's an example: A tennis player was dismissed from physiotherapy and struggling for the full strength of her serve after a shoulder injury. She complains that she does not have the reach she needs. By always returning to the pitch and trying to gain strength on the ball, she risks her shoulder for another injury. In the gym, which works with light weights through the PNF diagonal pattern, you support it by giving it a controlled environment so that it can develop strength and stability through the necessary range of motion.
Let's take a lower body example where you use body weight and floor reaction force as your stimulus. In the previous example, we described a hyperlordotic athlete struggling with recurrent back pain. Adding movement exercises in addition to your corrective stretch allows for improved hip movement. Once the length of the hip flexor complex is sufficient, the athlete can resume the lunges. When walking lunges during the hip and lumbar alignment and only in the area of movement in which the hip and lumbar spine alignment remain neutral, body weight and balance will be your overworking tool. The progression becomes the extended range of motion of the lunge until the athlete with the correct shape can run out until the rear knee can touch the ground. This movement can be further improved by adding dumbbells or contralateral upper body rotation. It can also be regressed, if necessary, by allowing the athlete to cling to a stable surface and perform stationary lunges.
By creating a controlled environment for progressively increasing strength and proprioceptive awareness, the body perceives this as having enhanced stability, and thus the muscles and soft tissue become increasingly more mobile and elastic. As progression progresses, strength, proprioception and stability increase with increasing freedom of movement. Once the desired range of motion is achieved, ongoing advances in strength and power are built on a solid foundation.
By creating a thoughtful and progressive plan to improve mobility and mobility as a separate but important aspect of an exercise program, you give your clients a solid foundation on which to build increasing strength, strength and athletic ability.
Learn about assisting patients with joint and muscle pain with a correction exercise.