If you have ever been in pain, chances are you were told to stretch. For some of us it helped, others it didn’t. Why did it work for some, while others stay in pain and are left thinking they just need to stretch more? Could stretching actually make the pain worse?
To understand this topic, we have to talk about some complicated subjects; anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. Please don’t run away, we will make it easy for you to understand.
To start lets agree, that as humans, we all have the same parts, and should, therefore, all move the same and respond similar when exposed to common environments. Let’s also agree that our modern day lifestyle leaves us in poor postures for most of the day. Be honest with yourself right now and assess your posture. Is your head forward into your computer or flexed down to your phone trying to read this? Is your low back rounded and flexed while at your desk right now or on your drive home? Chances are it probably is, and you’re like this for most of the day without realizing it. These positions are already lengthened or stretched positions, so why isn’t it helping?
We walk a very fine line everyday balancing between what our body was designed to handle, and what we actually put our body through. We must understand that when we overload or overwork our body either through training, work, or sitting at a desk all day, the body will have to create compensations to better accommodate the stress being placed on the body. In the initial phases of compensation, the body will feel “weak and tight.” This serves as a protective role on the body, and is commonly referred to as “protective tension.”
Protective tension serves a purpose to protect the body from injury by providing stability to an unstable area. While it may feel good to stretch really all that is happening during this time is that a bunch of stretch receptors are getting fired off and overriding the current symptoms. This is why you may feel better in the short term but relief never lasts more than a few hours. This is also why it can lead to long term pain, as stretching often leads to more cumulative damage in already lengthened tissue!
If we fail to recognize why the protective tension is occurring and continue with our regular activity without modifications, friction, pressure, and tension, will eventually lead to the development of dysfunction in the body.
Having already agreed that as humans we will mostly have the same parts and respond similar given the same situations, we know that in muscles, or where nerves come into contact with muscles, adhesion will ultimately form in structures with continuous overload from repetitive motions or prolonged positions! Adhesion is the most common pathology found in muscles, but unfortunately, one of the most misdiagnosed conditions in the human body. I am going to go out on a limb and guess you haven’t heard this term before. Fortunately, it can be easily fixed!
Adhesion, or scar tissue, when present, acts like glue on the muscle and nerves. This further leads into the continuous cycle of feeling “tight” but will also start to cause pain and injury. If left untreated, this relatively easy problem to fix only gets worse and leads to bigger complications down the road. Weakness, pain, and even tingling, burning, and numbness, when present along a nerve, can all be caused by adhesion.
Stretching, unfortunately, will not fix adhesion. In order to fix adhesion, adhesion must be broken down through manual therapy by a certified practitioner that is trained to diagnoses and treat adhesion. When adhesion is removed, the “need” to stretch is removed. By removing adhesion, the body can then move better, and function better on a day to day basis without the need to stretch! Stretching can help to prevent adhesion from coming back in the future, and keep you healthier, but will not fix adhesion in the present.
At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are currently the only full body Integrative Diagnosis provider in the state of Iowa. Integrative Diagnosis providers are trained to find faulty movement patterns, diagnose, and treat adhesion to fix your pain or movement problem! If you are constantly feeling “tight” or having pain, weakness, or numbness and have failed to find anything that has fixed the problem, I invite you to get to the bottom of your problem! Simply fill out the appointment request on this page or call our office at 319-423-0925 today!
Thanks for reading!