Search the web and you will find thousands of “stretching” programs from various sources. But how do you choose the best one?
In this post I will discuss the best way to improve your flexibility without causing great injury or harm.
The first question to ask is what are you trying to improve or avoid?
Some want to simply move better and they know that what they are doing is not working, others want to avoid that dull achy pain they get from sitting all day and want to be proactive. That is a good thing.
Are you trying to improve mobility simply because you feel tight or is there pain involved and you want it to go away?
I know personally my hips and lower back seam tight all of the time with some occasional pain. I transition between sitting and standing while at work to minimize the tightness but ultimately I need to perform some mobility work to stay flexible.
For you it may be that your neck is tight and you notice it most while driving or your knee is stiff from an injury or surgery so you struggle to get in your car or sit on the floor with your grandkids.
Whatever the reason, a well designed mobility program can help but how do you choose?
For most people I consult with they fall into paralysis by analysis. They are drowning in too much information. They are scared to make a choice because the wrong one could make their condition worse and cause them more pain.
This is why they come to see me.
This is especially true if you have had a surgery in the past (neck, lower back, knee, hip, shoulder). The area may have gotten tight over time. You pulled out the old stretches your therapist gave you but something doesn’t feel right. Too embarrassed to call your physical therapist, you start to look on the internet for “the best (fill in the blank) stretches”.
However the guy or gal on the other end of the internet doesn’t know all of your past injuries or ailments. So you decide it is best to not do anything and just wait to see if it will get better….HINT, it never does.
What is flexibility? It is simply the ability to move freely in order to complete a specific task or motion.
This could be bending over to tie your shoes or cross your legs while in church. Reaching into an overhead cabinet or looking over your shoulder while driving.
What are the benefits of greater mobility?
- Fewer injuries – having the flexibility combined with strength your body becomes more resilient and less likely to become injured during new or repetitive task
- Reduced pain – the body is working constantly to be in a state of balance. If muscles on one side of the body or joint become tight the other muscles get longer and thus out of balance. Do this long enough and the muscles get weak and the joints get overworked resulting in pain. Stretching helps to reduce this.
- Improved posture – sitting at a computer or driving a truck all day can cause some serious postural issues. Forward head, rounded shoulders, stiffness in the upper and lower back along with tightness in the hips and legs is a recipe for disaster. Stretching helps to correct these postural imbalances making it easier to perform simple daily tasks.
So how do you start to design a flexibility program?
One of the easiest ways and least specific is to search the internet for the thousands of articles and handouts that have prebuilt programs. If you are not in pain and are ok with something generic then give it a go.
Remember these programs are built for the masses and might not specifically address your issue you are trying to correct or take into account past injuries or surgeries.
Actually most have some type of disclaimer
“ Be cautious about starting a stretching program if you have a chronic condition or injury. If you have any health concerns, speak to your doctor or physical therapist to decide upon the best approach.”
Some of the programs can be very aggressive so start slow and work into it. Stretching at least 3-5 days a week is generally recommended. Stretching exercises should not generate a lot of soreness (unless you are really out of shape or get too aggressive) which allows you the ability to do these several times a week.
If you are new to flexibility work or are having some aches and pains and looking for the best way to get rid of them and avoid injuries then I recommend working with one of the experts at MOSS Rehabilitation Center.
We are able to assess the issues you are having as well as the ones you are trying to avoid. Once we understand your goals and ideal outcome we will put together a program specific for you and will walk you through the process.
We highly recommend a mix of flexibility and strengthening exercises for maximum benefit. I will talk about this more in an upcoming blog. Flexibility without strength and stability can actually result in more pain and injuries.
Picture a professional gymnast. They have amazing strength and flexibility. If they only had the flexibility they would not be able to hurl themselves around on the floor, pommel horse or rings. There has to be a balance.
If you are looking for a mobility program then give us a call at 817-220-MOSS (6677).
We love helping everyday people get back to doing the things they love to do.
At MOSS Rehabilitation Center we make it easy for you to get started. We even have a simple 3 step process.
1. Schedule a FREE NO Obligation, Discovery Visit with one of our experts. During this visit, you will talk with one of our friendly experts about your issues. This is a safe and confidential visit, you can trust that your safety and privacy is important to us. We are taking extra measures to ensure that you remain safe during this pandemic.
2. Receive a Customized (Individualized) Treatment Plan. Based on your free discovery visit, we will put together a custom, unique to you plan that will address all of your nagging pains and issues. The goal is to get you back to your healthy self as soon as possible while also addressing your issues for the long term.
3. Get Your Life Back and Do What You Love. The best result for us is a patient who tells us they can finally do what they love without the constant pain, stress, or issue they were facing. Together we can get you back to living life without worry.
So what do the most successful people do when they have health concerns? They address their problem.
I call it the 3 D’s Principle to handling any problem in life: 1. Don’t Ignore it, 2. Don’t Mask It, 3. Do Something About It.
NEXT ACTION: If you are really serious about your flexibility start by calling 817-220-6677 today to schedule your FREE NO OBLIGATION Discovery Visit.
To your health,
Dr. Robert Moss PT, ScD, OCS. FAAOMPT