The Fundamentals of Stretching

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Exercise, Issues

When, Why & How To Stretch

Author: Kai Fusser, MS

StretchingEverybody knows (even non-athletes) that stretching can be beneficial for physical performance.

But there is a lot of misinformation and confusion on why, when, what and how to stretch. Also, many confuse stretching with a warm up and vice versa.

A warm up is exactly what it says, warming up your body, the muscles, through dynamic movements. It is the increased blood flow that warms up your muscle. Stretching on the other hand is either static or performed very slowly, which is just the opposite of a warm up.

When Should You Stretch?

 One issue is that the muscles don’t like to be stretched when they are cold. They will hardly be able to be “stretched” or lengthened as they are not supple and don’t like to “let go”. Therefore, the stretch is being transferred to the ligaments and tendons, and that’s not what we want.

So I recommend only stretching if your muscles are really warmed up, ideally after a workout or some physical activity. By the way, there is no evidence that stretching will prevent injury before physical activity, yet plenty of evidence that a warm up will.

Why Should You Stretch?

So why should we stretch? It’s to prevent your muscles from tightening after hard physical activity and giving the muscles the signal to let go which is controlled by your nervous system.

I do not recommend to use stretching alone to improve flexibility or range of motion. Stretching alone will not strengthen the muscles as there is no stabilizing of the joints required. This is better achieved through full range of motion exercises that involve a load on the muscles by using weight or resistance.

The Fundamentals Of Stretching

There are many different ways to stretch – from completely static (holding) to PNF (short term tension then letting go). I suggest you try different ways and see what feels best.

I prefer stretching against a rubber band, i.e. attached to a solid object and leaning against it or pulling the extended leg towards the chest with a rubber band. Rubber bands will “dampen” the pull on the muscles and can help with a more progressive and controlled stretch.

So stretch! Just know when and why.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Latest Article

Shermer’s Neck Pain Relief

Posted January 16, 2018 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Shermer’s Neck Is An Ultra-Cyclist’s Nightmare

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

shermer's neck pain ultracyclistShermer’s Neck is a condition where the muscles of the back of your neck become so tight that they lose the ability to hold your head up. It is a condition most frequently associated with ultracycling.

Do you love to cycle?  Perhaps you’re an ultracyclist and ride for many hours every week.  If you are, you may already know about Shermer’s Neck.

As you are well-aware, an ultracyclist leans forwardThis is called the “aerodynamic position.” When you do that, you are slicing through the wind, and you aren’t losing speed when the wind hits your chest. However, you need to hold your head up to see where you are going and maintain that position for several hours. That is what causes Shermer’s Neck.

Shermer’s Neck And The Non-Athlete

shermer's neck pain painterYou don’t have to be an ultracyclist to suffer from Shermer’s Neck. Do you do anything that has you look up for hours, such as being a house painter? Even something as simple as having your computer screen too high can force you to have your head tilted up for long periods of time while working.

If so, Shermer’s Neck can still affect you, and seriously impact your life. Fortunately, non-athletes don’t usually have as severe a problem as the ultracyclists.

Why Does Looking Up Cause Shermer’s Neck?

shermer's neck painYour posterior neck muscles primarily originate at the middle of your back, along your spine. They go up your back and neck, and insert into either your cervical spine, or the bottom of your skull. When these muscles contract, they pull your head back.  When the muscles of the posterior neck contract, if you are standing, you’ll be looking at the ceiling. If you’re a cyclist, your posterior neck muscles contract in order for you to look forward.

How To Treat The Muscles That Cause Shermer’s Neck

shermer's neck pain pinchThe primary muscles that cause Shermer’s Neck are:

To treat the muscles that cause a repetitive strain injury in your neck, tilt your head back and pinch the muscle that is right next to your spine.

shermer's neck pain reliefNext, press the three middle fingers of your opposite hand deeply into the muscle fibers, going from the base of your scalp to as far as you can reach down the center of your back, right alongside your spinal column.

While pressing deeply, slowly lower your chin toward your chest so you are stretching the muscle fibers.  Don’t let your hand slide on your neck or you will miss the stretch.

Do both self-treatments on both sides of your neck.

shermer's neck pain relief bookYou can find the full treatments for your entire neck and upper back by going to my book, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living . This book has treatments for your entire body, from your head to your feet.  YOU are your own Best Therapist!  Stop pain quickly and easily with self-treatments you can do anytime, anyplace.  Get relief from Shermer’s Neck pain by following the steps above.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

About The Author

julie donnellyJulie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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