The Art of Stretching: Lengthening

BY ERIC COGGINS

Hey everyone, the Move Brothers back again with some more great tips. Today, we are covering an extremely important topic, and it just so happens to be in line as the next step in the Corrective Exercise Continuum. These are SOME (not all) of our tips for stretching and the 3rd step. So get ready, here we go.

Stop Stretching Just to Stretch!

Sometimes we just stretch to stretch. I know you do it, I do it, we all do it from time to time. Think back to when you were younger at sporting events, dance recitals or anything active, what did you do before anything else? Stretch! Oftentimes an adult, coach, teacher, or someone would have you stretch and go through some random assortment of stretches with no real purpose. It was just something you did; stretching just to stretch. It turns out that there should be a purpose, plan and strategy to your stretching. Did you know that some of your muscles may already too long and stretching will only make this worse? How about that some muscles could already be at a good length? With these guys, it’s best to not stretch them even if they feel tight. If tightness is the case, that’s generally where we would want to do some self-massage with a foam roller or lacrosse ball.

Okay, so what do I stretch then?

You really only have to worry about three types of muscles: short and tight, proper length, or long and loose. Since our goal for corrective exercise is to lengthen short muscles, we can cross out long muscles since they clearly aren’t short. We can also cross out muscles with proper length because you don’t mess with a good thing. That leaves the short ones left. Commonly, these tend to be on the front of the body due to extended periods of sitting, hunching and forward head posture (more on this in the future) with the exception of the calves. Some muscles to stretch will generally be  quads, calves, hip flexors, small hip muscles, abdominals, chest, and some neck muscles in the front.

Are there different types of stretches?

Great question! Without going into too much depth or too far down the rabbit hole, the answer is YES. It gets much deeper than what we’ll cover in this post, but this is all we need to know for now. Each of these plays a different role but we will try and keep it simple here. There are 3 general types of stretching:

-  Active = 1-2 second holds with movement done before workout.

-  Static = 5+ second holds done after a workout is completed. Done in some cases for corrective purposes also

-  Dynamic = about a 1 second hold done with a quicker tempo in between sets of a workout to help activate a muscle. Also helps correct imbalances.

Which one do I use?

For this particular purpose, we will utilize an active or a short, timed static stretch for 3-4 sets. An example could be 4 sets of a static quad stretch with 5 second holds on each side, alternating and working to go deeper each time. For an active stretch, 4 sets of 6 reps on the same side with 2 second holds on the quad stretch followed by a leg swing forwards then going back to a hold again, lastly alternating legs and repeating. These stretches should NOT be done violently, uncontrolled, or until it hurts so bad that you feel like something is going to tear. Stretching shouldn’t be an all-out action movie, but more like a karate movie: methodical, controlled, precision.

There it is guys, some of the Move Brothers tips for corrective exercise stretching. Remember in all stretchesI hope this has been helpful and reach out if you have any questions or ideas for more posts! Thank you Movers and here’s to exercise for life!

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