We all know how good our body feels after a good stretch, but how, when, and what type of stretches are the most beneficial? Should we stretch before working out, after working out, or a bit of both? Is it possible to over-stretch?
The answer to all of these is sometimes yes and sometimes no.
There are no absolutes to stretching. Every body will react to stretches differently because we’ve all experienced different trauma and injury. Some of us are naturally more flexible. Some of us are naturally tight and look at the flexible types with admiration, when in reality, extreme flexibility is far more likely to lead to over-stretching and joint instability than inflexibility.
Most likely, you’re here because something feels off-kilter. Perhaps you hear a constant clicking sound when you stretch your joints. Or perhaps you don’t have the mobility or flexibility you used to have. Or maybe one side of your body functions radically different than another. If this describes you, we don’t recommend that you perform any extreme stretches on your own. It’s always best to have a chiropractic adjustment FIRST, and consult with your chiropractor and physical therapist prior to stretching. We will provide you with a personalized program for stretching that will help your healing process.
We at North Atlantic Chiropractic believe that stretching properly is a key aspect to maintain your chiropractic adjustment and living a strong, powerful, pain-free life.
Our highly trained and qualified staff will help improve your flexibility, range of motion and posture.
Should I stretch on my own? After all, if it feels good, why not do it?
It depends. If you have an injury, we do not recommend stretching without first seeking professional advice and guidance. Stretching may seem simple, but it is quite possible to over-stretch your low back, neck, or sacral iliac (SI) joint. And instead of helping improve your posture, you may create even more pain and instability in that area.
This may feel counter-intuitive. Remember, everything starts with our habits. Oftentimes, our body becomes accustomed to a particular sensation. We begin to interpret that sensation as a beneficial stretch, when in fact, we are over-stretching connective tissue that is already strained and weak. It may “feel good” because it is familiar to the body, but in reality, we are further weakening an area that is already weak to begin with.
You’ll know when a stretch is doing you more harm than good when you obsessively to want to do it. It becomes an almost constant craving, “if I just bend over this way and stretch my shoulder all the way over to here, I know I’ll feel better.”
But do you?
Most likely, you keep repeating this stretch over and over, and the area never quite clicks back into place or loses its tension. This is because you are over-stretching an area that is out of alignment. Given a corrective postural adjustment by qualified chiropractor and a personalized stretch program, and we guarantee that you will experience what a proper stretch can do for you!
Do Your Research
When choosing a rehab and strengthening program, we recommend that you do your research and always work with a highly trained and ethical chiropractor. Our staff at North Atlantic Chiropractic can help you at all stages of your rehabilitation and healing and is happy to refer you to qualified practitioners in your area.
With a proper chiropractic adjustment, the spinal column is brought back into alignment. Weak, over-stretched muscles realign; and tight muscles in constant tension release.
Remember that the spine connects to everything in our body, moveable and immovable areas.
Neck Tension & Stretches:
Neck tension is one of the most common modern complaints. The tension begins in how we hold our head.
Our skull, by nature, is only malleable for a short period of time following childbirth. Ever seen a cone-head baby? This is because the bones of that child’s skull were designed to shift slightly to accommodate space for baby to pass through mom’s birth canal. As an adult, these bones are fused and do not move unless we experience a head trauma.
An adult skull itself weighs 10lbs – 11lbs. However, with improper posture, such as forward-carrying skull carriage (i,e, – text- neck), the strain of our skull increases tremendously. For example, if you lean just 15 degrees forward, your head weight is less 11lbs and more like 27lbs. A 30 degree forward tilt increases that to 40lbs of pressure. A 60 degree angle and you’re placing 60 lbs of strain on your neck.
No wonder our neck hurts!
One of the best ways you can prevent this forward leaning head carriage and neck strain is to sit up straight, shoulders aligned over your hips. If your shoulders have a tendency to round and slip forwards, set a timer on your device and once every 5 minutes, squeeze your shoulder blades together for 30 seconds. Breathe 3-5 deep breaths while doing this, and then let go. You’ll strengthen the rhomboids and mid-traps, muscles that you need to work in contraction if they are used to being over-stretched.
Sciatic pain is often felt in the hips, glutes and leg and is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve pressure can occur due to a variety of reasons: herniated discs, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome and sacroiliitis (SI joint instability) are some of the most common. Due to increased weight in the belly and a shift on our body’s balance, pregnancy is also a frequent sciatic nerve aggravator.
We strongly encourage you to address sciatic pain with a qualified practitioner only. Do not resort to web research. The Sciatica is an incredibly sensitive nerve: one twist or stretch in the wrong direction and you very well may end up worse than before.
Posture and Low Back Support:
Generalized good posture begins at your feet. Stand with equal weigh on both your right and left foot. Keep a micro bend in your knees. Align your hips over your knees over your ankles. Imagine your pelvis like a bowl holding water: that bowl should not be spilling water out of your belly or out of your low back. Encourage low back alignment by lifting your belly muscles slightly.
Align your shoulders over your hips, and squeeze your shoulder blades together for a few breaths to make sure those neck stabilizing muscles are engaged. Release the shoulder squeeze (holding that for too long will also cause neck tension!) and allow your shoulder blades to rest gently on your spine. Allow your skull to float freely.
When you need to bend forward and pick something up, do it by bending your knees and contract your belly muscles. Do not bend from your low back. Same for lifting something high up above you. Keep your belly muscles strong and use your core strength to push from your shoulders and arms.
Good posture is a habit and we are here to help you form the best habits possible!