Special to The Morning Star
Flexibility is an important part of everyone’s fitness routine but do you really know the correct way to stretch? There is tremendous research on the benefits of stretching yet still so much confusion on the subject but also still so much to learn within the fitness industry.
When it comes to flexibility it usually isn’t as easy as you think. A simple example would be individuals who suffer from tight hamstrings. It can be fairly easy to walk through a fitness facility and find people who struggle with this problem. But is it really the hamstring?
Could it be the fact that your hamstring tightness is coming from an unstable joint? Is stability the issue? Or, is there such an enormous strength difference between opposing muscles that the workload they all should be sharing is happening from one area or one muscle. A weak gluteus (butt) means an overworked hamstring.
Lack of mobility in certain joints can also show up as lack of flexibility. Maybe the joint isn’t moving freely.
Another difference is finding out if the specific muscle is short or stiff. Short muscles have less length along with the connective tissue. A stiff muscle doesn’t like to be stretched. Fascia restrictions and past injuries also play a roll in tightness.
What can you do in order to make some changes? First, it comes down to a proper assessment. Do not just assume that a muscle is tight and do nothing but stretch it. The problem may lie elsewhere.
One of the most important factors in seeing a change is what you do all day long. What posture, position or movement do you do all day that doesn’t allow you to maintain functional flexibility?
If you spend eight to 10 hours sitting at a desk, spending five minutes at the gym thinking you are doing a great job stretching isn’t going to help! Try to reduce these negative movement patterns or positions as much as possible throughout the day. These positions become normal to the nervous system and once the aches and pains and injuries surface it becomes very challenging to incorporate stretches or movements that take you out of these postures and positions.
Ideally we want to maintain functional flexibility, that is natural for us, that allows us to perform movement and sport and doesn’t increase risks of injury.
As we age we lose flexibility and mobility and it is even worse with the increase of computers, video games and lack of fitness in school/home as kids are moving less!
Do not “live with it.” Find a professional that can assess your situation and get you moving better!
Rhonda Catt is a certified personal trainer in the North Okanagan.