Recently I’ve had a few questions from patients who are reading the book. One that keeps coming up is about whether or not stretching is good or bad for us. Stretching is a very confusing topic and has been one of scientific controversy for years which makes the answer not so straightforward.
In this first volume of my book series Every Body’s Guide to Everyday Pain™, Put Out the Fire I spend some time explaining that stretching is actually a mechanical stressor and therefore risky for people dealing with everyday pain. This means that the elongation we cause by stretching can result in stress to the underlying structure. Usually when all things – mechanical, biochemical and emotional – are in balance, a reasonable stretch doesn’t cause any trouble. However, when we are out of balance in any one of these areas and if we are already in pain, then stretching the compromised area is a terrible idea.
We often get away with stretching without consequences during times when we are not in crisis. Unfortunately with this sort of benign experience in mind and due to the fact that stretch-sensation neurologically eclipses the pain of inflammation, the concept that stretching is not good for your pain, is a very puzzling one to accept.
If you stretch a muscle in distress, you are basically signalling to your body that the tightening over-reaction – the one you are trying to find relief from – is indeed justified. In this case, your stretch will perpetuate the underlying reason for muscle pain and tightness instead of resolving the problem.
The reason muscles grab and get tight is 100% protective in nature. It is always the most reasonable response to unreasonable conditions. You may not agree that the conditions are “unreasonable” but your brain and body’s assessment is all that matters during times like this. If you don’t stop and find out what they’re protecting you from, there may be much worse discomfort lurking around the next corner.
Another interesting point is that the elongation stress associated with stretching can happen without, what looks to us like, a traditional intentional stretch. Lengthening stress to muscle fibers is something that can be produced with sustained pressure on a muscle or a tendon. When a muscle bundle is made to deform in this way it’s perceived by the brain as elongation. If that area is already inflamed, it will be a problem. So, all of you foam rolling or ball rolling advocates beware!
A large part of my mission in educating patients is to highlight the subtleties in movement and posture that matter when we are in pain, but which often don’t seem very obvious to us. By learning about these not so obvious contributions to pain, we can stop berating ourselves for “falling apart” and acknowledge the way forward. Recognizing the validity in our pain is a vital step towards feeling better and staying out of pain in the future.
An important part of Volume Two – Fix the Fire Damage will include information about exactly how and when to stretch safely and how to solve the problem of muscle tightness for the long term.
Click on this link for more at the original article Source: Stretching Out the Pain: Feels Good But is it Good FOR You? – Stop Everyday Pain