134 Executive Drive, Lafayette, IN 47905, 765-448-6489

By Dr. Doug Williams
April 27, 2016
Tags: exercise   ergonomics   stretching  
If you are cruising the Internet looking for good stretches, you will find no shortage of options. But, are they all good? Is there an optimum stretch? Is there a best way to stretch? These are all good questions and I hope to answer them for you by the end of this post.

Is all stretching good for you? The answer to this question is no, not all stretching is good. Not all tissue needs to be stretched and not all tissue needs to be stretched all of the time. With that said, most stretches won't hurt you, but they may not be the best thing for you either. The science behind flexibility (the outcome of stretching) is varied and has conflicting data. However, there are some generally accepted axioms regarding stretching that I've listed below:
  • Focus on stretching after exercise as opposed to before. Generally, a slow warm-up is more beneficial for preparing your muscles for exercise, as stretching may place a joint at risk for injury.
  • Stretches held for longer than 10-12 minutes have the potential to permanently change the length of ligaments and muscles. In fact, this type of stretching has its own term called traction. We use traction in the office to alter posture - it is a valuable tool, but really needs professional oversight.
  • Because of the way our bodies are built to maximize certain movements and actions, there are fairly predictable patterns of muscles that tend towards tightness and others that tend towards weakness.
  • Much of the developed world has similar patterns of muscle shortening, which are usually secondary to the amount of sitting we do and the amount of moving we don't do.
Here at the office, I am always on the lookout for the biggest bang for the buck. For something to reach "Big Buck" status, it has to meet these three criteria:
  1. Cover issues that most people have.
  2. Be easily understood and reproduced.
  3. Be simple enough to do in two minutes or less.
The two stretches outlined below meet this criteria and we recommend them often. They will stretch a large number of the muscle groups that tend to become short because of our unique human frames, the amount of time we spend sitting in cars and soft furniture, and generally not moving enough throughout the day.

A few things to remember before you get started:
  1. If you are currently in a lot of pain ( 7+ on a scale of 0-10) or dealing with a new injury, then you need to talk to your chiropractor before engaging stretching as it may aggravate your condition.
  2. Stretching is not about how much you can get out of your body, but how much your body will give you. Stretching should feel like a pleasant pull and you should feel relaxed and more pliable afterwards. If performing the stretches is painful, then you are either pulling too hard or something else is wrong. Try dialing back the intensity - if that doesn't help, then contact us before continuing.
  3. You are not going to undo years of poor posture, injury or chronic pain with stretching once for 2 minutes. Stretching is like putting a little money in the bank with each paycheck; it may not look like much at first, but, over time, your investment grows! Add that to a good exercise, nutrition and supportive chiropractic program, and then you'll see progress!
Go ahead and give the following stretches a try. During the day, work on them once an hour, as long as you keep the above three points in mind. A really good time to stretch is in the shower under hot water - just don't slip on the soap! If you are trying to stretch right as you get out of bed, go slowly as our bodies are naturally stiff in the morning. These stretches would be great to incorporate after exercise as a cool down and after you have been sitting for awhile, like at a computer or while talking on a cell phone.

Remember: Eat Right, Move Right, and Think Right!

Doug Williams, D,C,
Care Chiropractic 
Lafayetette, Indiana