Do you still take time out of your day for stretching?
I’m going to assume you said yes to stretching daily.
Now let me ask you another question.. do you find yourself repeating the same stretching routines, day in, day out barely improving your flexibility or mobility?
I know the feeling. All you here about is stretching, stretching, stretching and yet it doesn’t seem to make lasting change.
This lack of progress with myself and my client’s was a recurring theme eventually leading me to re-evaluate my approach to improving flexibility, mobility and the like of specific joints.
Instead of focusing on hammering, smashing and any other adjective you can think of to try and mould your muscles into your desired length how about you take another approach.
Look to your posture, look at your breath, the day to day activities you perform that have led you to this chronic tightness in whatever muscle or joint you are feeling restricted. To enhance your movement capabilities through mobility and flexibility we must first change our lens on movement.
If I told you to turn your head to the left, as far as you possibly could you would now be in what I call a Left orientation, basically, your head is far more to the left than it is the right as you can see in the photo below.
Now because you are rotating your head as far as you can to the left, you have the possibility to go really far to the right, but you don’t have much space to go further into the left, as you are already there.
If we assess our movement of the tight area it is often because we are already in the end range for that muscle or joint. If you have tight hamstrings for example you may be in an anterior pelvic tilt orientation, basically pushing your bum backwards and lengthening your hamstrings. It will give the sensation to us that our hamstrings are tight, our reaction is to stretch this area even though it’s already stretched. Does this make sense to you?
Instead of stretching our hamstrings further past their limit, we instead need to shorten it and restore them to their resting length. If we compare this to our head example above it would be the equivalent to straightening our head; this way we have the capacity to move our head to the left and the right equally.
Throughout our lives we will adopt certain postures that can be favour some to what is required. Think about work, sport, injuries, our bodies will accommodate these by altering our posture, the way we stand and walk to allow us to perform actions and tasks that we need to do as deemed by the work, sport and injuries. This can benefit us in those areas but leaves us lacking in our movement outside of these confined skills.
To make lasting change, we must give our bodies what we don’t have.
To help you get started, here are a few tips!
- Set up a camera and film yourself, stand still facing forward, facing the side and then facing your back to the camera. From here screen shot a still of you in each position – front, side and back.
When doing this from our side on point of view, you should see a straight line from your ear, to your shoulder bone, to your hip bone to your lateral (outer) knee bone and lateral ankle bone. Is this the case for you? Or are you shifting your hips forward or back or your shoulders forward and back. You get the drift. If you are out of alignment in your resting standing posture then your muscles and joints will compensate, limiting your motion over time.
These positions are not inherently bad when taken from a snapshot but when they occur over a longer period of time, when this becomes your new ‘normal’ then we create issues.
Ok, so what’s the fix if not stretching?
- You need to be conscious of your posture in various situations – mainly standing and walking to start to correct your restrictions. This may entail putting more pressure on the centre or heel of your foot rather than the front of your foot
- You may need to alter how you walk (gait), allowing your heel to strike the floor (again you can film yourself walking to find a discrepancy) and your arms to swing in opposition to your legs
- You need to breath, if you have read my ‘breathing’ blog, you should have an idea of the importance of your breath. This is an essential and often overlooked area that people neglect. If you don’t breathe in a position, you don’t own that position. When we stretch people will often hold their breath and rush through the allocated time. Instead relax, inhale deeply and exhale deeply, pause between breathes and be mindful of your new position.
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If you are feel you are someone who needs to improve their posture or learn how to improve their movement capabilities. Or, if you’re someone who has found stretching leds to minimal improvements then reach out below and let us help!
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