Cannot Stretch Too Much, How about the Truth

You cannot stretch too much is what one of my clients, who happens to suffer from hypermobility, was told by a Chiropractor. Maybe I am a bit more soured by this advice than some people who have no idea how the body works. Joints are like hinges they have specifications for how far they can go, what they should do and what they shouldn’t do. Now maybe my attitude toward stretching is different because I studied advanced Martial Arts where stretching parts of the body to the breaking point in order to destroy your opponent’s ability to function is the GOAL. Anyone who has watch a UFC or a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class will know that stretching can be very bad for your body. What I see many times is that when people pull on body parts that they own and feel a stretch they feel good about it but when a martial artist is bending their body the same way they scream and tap out.

A bad joke that I tell a lot is…What is the point just past the furthest your joint can do called? Injury! A little further and Damage.

The difference is only a fraction of an inch sometimes going from, “that feels good” to “that feels sprained or strained” to a doctor saying that “the tissue is torn according to the MRI”. Muscles give us a lot of feedback but ligaments in many cases don’t let you know you are stretching them until they tear and you can be setting yourself up for some nasty damage to your knees, back, neck for years before finally you pick up your jacket and go to put it on and you feel severe pain in your shoulder. You bend down to lace up a shoe or pick up a paperclip and boom you are on your back getting muscle relaxants and painkillers. Can anyone say OPIOD CRISIS. Poor movement patterns and weakness over a long period of time will cause you to be fragile without knowing it. If you know you are holding something fragile you treat it differently. My example would be holding a raw egg versus holding your car keys, we chuck the keys around and throw them where we want them, handling the egg is very different.

It never hurt before is what I have heard hundreds of times working with clients. “I just tugged the leaf blower cord and bam I hurt my shoulder with a rotator cuff tear but what about the 9000 times you did something in a bad position before the damage took place”. I heard that this Doctor said this statement about stretching and it really hit a nerve forget that many people have no idea what they are stretching or why it is a good or bad idea. They just follow along with an instructor, a video, a friend or better yet Monkey see Monkey do at the gym. When I see people at the pool finishing laps and yanking their elbows above their heads, I always think what does that yanking have to do with swimming. Okay gang my point…Stretching can do just as much if not more damage than any other activity you do, it is risky and should be done only upon understanding what you are stretching and more importantly WHY!