Did I get your attention? While their is much truth to the title it is also a little mis-leading. Stretching has been around for ever. It is a natural process that can help lengthen and release our body. However the way most people stretch usually doesn't work and can sometimes lead to injury.
Now I know some people are going to be getting their shackles up, some physios and trainers will be getting a little defensive. “But that’s what we teach.” Before you get too worked up let me try and explain.
I grew up active in many sports and learned all kinds of stretches. I also had all kinds of injuries so I got even more practice. Then I had to deal with 10 years of chronic and acute back pain . I stretched and strengthened but I ended up with two herniated discs in my back. I am not saying the stretching I was doing was the cause but it definitely didn't prevent it from happening either. The conflict between what we are told to do, what works, why it works, what doesn't work is part of my personal journey and my professional passion.
Being active in many sports I did all kinds of stretching. Having many sport and non sport injuries made me learn a great variety of stretches. After having 13 years of back pain and many other injuries during this time while pretty consistently stretching the whole time, skip forward to the present and I my back has been pain free for over 14 years now and I have the least amount injuries and I do the least amount of stretching I have ever done.
The perceptions we have around what stretching is, (link) what you are effecting when you stretch and how to do it vary greatly. Stretching is one simple word to describe a complex and sophisticated process in our body. In todays day and age their are many professionals who go beyond the historical view of stretching as a static approach. They realize their are many ways of stretching and releasing the body.
What is stretching? Stretching the way it is commonly taught is to hold a body part in a position that stretches the tissues. People are generally told to hold that position for 5-20 seconds and then then let it go. Some people promote more of a forceful stretch others go with a more gentle pull or stretch and some use a more dynamic or active approach.
Why stretch? Our bodies get tight from the demands of life, work, sport and injuries. Stretching is supposed to counteract this tightening. With the intention of staying fairly brief and simple. As more professionals recognize that one part of the body is connected to other parts they realize for one part to work or move correctly we have to have flexibility in those and other parts to avoid injury and pain.
Purpose of stretching?
Principles- force vs. focus
In the workplace stretching is also being employed more and more as an injury prevention tool and to prepare for the movement, demands and positions of work.
What are you stretching? Muscles, ligaments, tendons, connective tissue, fascia.
Stuart McGill research: (link to studies)
different types of stretching
Different tissues you are effecting
Intro Pandiculation (link to Pandiculation article)
Stretching has some useful applications but to prepare our body for action with injury and to rehabilitate from pain or injuries there are much more effective ways of doing it.
If you have ever had an injury or know someone that has been to a therapist Stretching is one of the first things they are instructed to do. While stretching can sometimes be helpful, why is it that so many people still have injuries and still have trouble getting full recovery post-injury? How much stretching helps with injury prevention really isn’t a sure thing. Look at the this study. Put a link in here to stretching study
Stretching can be an effective adjunct to any injury preventtion, performand or conditioning program. However their are also drawbacks with standard stretching programs. When you look at the purpose of stretching and how the brain, the body and the muscles work you start to see some limitations.