In the video above I’m going to give you 7 stretching guidelines that will ensure a more effective, efficient and pain-free way to improve your flexibility.
The main take home point of this article is that PAIN during stretching should NEVER be part of the program because it’s a sign that the body’s internal defense mechanisms of your nervous system are fighting against you, and warning you if you don’t back off there will be a price to pay.
If you push thru the pain you could potentially create small micro-traumas in the muscle, and connective tissues. If this stress is repeated over and over, then more severe and chronic issues may occur to the balance and integrity of your musculoskeletal structure.
On top of that, the nervous system becomes traumatized where it becomes overly sensitive to touch, and can make a muscle hyper-reactive to the stimulus of movement, or the total opposite and can inhibit a muscle from activating when it should.
This all creates a level of dysfunction that leaves the muscle weak and vulnerable.
On the other hand, if you stretch before reaching that threshold of pain, then you will ensure that your muscles, tendons, and ligaments will maintain their integrity, and you can reach your desired result of attaining greater flexibility without the trauma.
It starts with understanding the body’s self-defense mechanisms, and knowing how to prevent them from firing off.
Inside the muscle, fascia, tendons, and ligaments are sensory receptors, otherwise known as proprioceptors, which send messages to, and receive messages from the brain so there’s constant feedback communication from the whole system.
It’s those proprioceptors that help us to know where our body is in space, otherwise known as having a kinesthetic awareness, and which muscles to recruit, and in what sequence.
The particular sensory receptors in the muscle, called muscle spindles, keep track of the length of the muscle. And if the length-tension limits are breached, the muscle spindle has the duty to reflexively contract the muscle to be shorter to protect the muscle from tearing.
Similar protective reflexes exists throughout the body, much like your eyelid quickly shuts to protect the cornea from being breached.
The reflex that protects the muscle from tearing when stretching too far or too fast is referred to as the myotatic reflex…that’s the resistance and sometimes pain that you feel your body give you when you’re stretching beyond the muscle’s comfort zone.
The involvement of the myotatic reflex is counterproductive to what we want to accomplish in stretching. We have to learn to work with and around those receptors to get what we want, therefore being smarter with our approach.
In the act of stretching we are going to be inevitably creating some tension in the muscles and connective tissue. So what we can do is apply specific steps to alleviate the pre-existing tension from the start, and to turn down those over-reactive proprioceptors.
Now, you can watch the video above to learn the 7 steps for better stretching.
In the next stretching series video I will discuss the pros and cons of certain types of stretching, and which ones are the most effective.