In Part 2 of this blog thread I left you with 2 intriguing questions to ponder over …
Q1: When you stretch a muscle, how do you know what you are actually stretching?
Q2: When you do stretch, how do you know whether what you are stretching should be being stretched?
I know that some of you might understand where I am coming from here, but for those of you who are totally confused, I’ll try to make sense of this for you.
We said in Part 2 that “tightness“, “weakness“, “over-” and “under-active” muscles and “issues with functional movement patterns” are very often not what they seem and cannot be solved by working “locally” to the problem we are seeing or feeling.
And that this is largely due to compensations going on in our bodies from our lifestyle.
When these compensations are happening, multiple different physiological changes can take place inside our muscles.
The challenge here is knowing which type of physiological change is occurring in a particular muscle or muscle group.
Why? Because the correct intervention is different for some of these physiological change types.
What this means in practice is that:
- Just because it’s “tight” doesn’t mean we need to (or indeed should) stretch it!
- Just because it’s not firing correctly doesn’t mean we need to (or indeed should) use activation or conditioning exercises on those muscles!
I totally get that this will be taking a lot of you outside of your comfort zone and challenging a lot of what you have learned so far.
But this is exactly how the human body works!
For those interested, there is really great science and a very strong, validated evidence-base to back this up – science which started in 1982 with Marilyn R Gossman, Shirley A Sahrmann and Steven J Rose in their seminal and game-changing work. Work that has been taken and validated subsequently by other, most latterly by my own amazing mentor Jo Abbott.
What this means in practice is that if you persist in stretching, conditioning or moving muscles and joints that are subject to muscular compensatory physiological changes, you run the risk of making these muscular compensatory physiological changes worse and/or creating new muscular (or different) compensatory physiological or biomechanical changes elsewhere in the body.
In Part 4 I will introduce you to some new terminology that might help you understand in more detail what might be going on and why.
Simon – The Integrated Fitpro Coach