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On Stretching, and why Bob may be right re: Nancy, Robin, Bob, John etc.

Posted by alan k on 4/01/00 at 00:00 (018122)

At the risk of being more unorthodox and continuing the recent thread on stretching...

Bob may be right about the need to do gentle stretching and about the dangers of working-out type stretching for pf. Two reasons and maybe more. One reason which no one mentioned, which is super-important-- is that many people do the stretches cold. This is absolutely wrong! Many trainers know this for years and years but the medical community is slow on the uptake.

Stretching cold muscles = tearing cold muscles.
This is the law.

Gentle stretches may be more effective on cold muscles because they do not create as much micro-tearing of the fibers and thus contribute better to elasticity. There is no way to avoid any tears at all, but gentle stretching is better for sneaking up on this condition if your stretching regimen is done on cold muscles.

If you don't just sit up in bed or get up off the couch and start stretching, but instead warm up the feet and legs with gentle exercise and by preferably also applying heat, then your gentle stretches may be even more effective. You may be able to get into more vigourous stretching as well-- but Bob and Robins and John h 's experiences are worth keeping in mind. It's good to do it mindfully and patiently by listening to your body, not by adopting some pre-concieved theory of what you need and then trying to attain it.

Second, although I was being heretical by suggesting that stretches should not be held for more than a few seconds because that causes micro-spasms in the muscles (according to Thai medicine), in fact I was being too-cautious: what I really wanted to say is that they shouldn't be held at all. Just gently stretch to the best point and then back off. I know this isn't what the doctor says. In fact, as many of you know I am a dedictated yoga practicioner and there we obviously hold stretches for prolonged periods (but only with properly warmed up bodies). But in the case of working with a specific condition involving subtly torn, tight, inelastic and spasmed muscles, the therapeutic stretching is different. Therapeutic stretching involves blood-pumping heat from warm up exercises, extra applied heat, varied stretching which works at varied angles, massage, and unheld stretches which 'give a breather' to the tight muscles and release tension but don't create more of it.

Remember the kid who got the wedgy? Stretching and holding it didn't contribute to his fruit of loom's elasticity. Quite the opposite. And if it was freezing cold outside his elastic waist band might snap and break. Not that I am speaking from experience or anything.

alan k


Re: On Stretching, and why Bob may be right re: Nancy, Robin, Bob, John etc.

Nancy S. on 4/01/00 at 00:00 (018124)

You are making more and more sense to me re: stretch. This week has turned into an amazing fine-tuning experience.
I don't remember the kid who got the wedgy, so I feel left out, but I'm glad it wasn't you.
--Nancy

Re: On Stretching, and why Bob may be right re: Nancy, Robin, Bob, John etc.

Bob G. on 4/02/00 at 00:00 (018149)

I agree for the most part with Alan. Cold muscles don't stretch, they injure.

For myself, I massage my leg and foot before getting out of bed, get into proper footwear, get breakfast going, and then a short gentle stretch to begin the day. And just as Alan says, I don't hold it more than a secong or two.

But later in the day when everything's warmed up I feel comfortable at twenty second stretches.

Just my imput. I was on the road all day today and am glad to be home and heading for bed. When I realized I'd be walking around Berkeley for a couple hours, then San Francisco later, plus hundreds of miles of driving, I did take an ibuprofen as a precaution. I was a good day because there was no PF pain. Good night!


Re: On Stretching, and why Bob may be right re: Nancy, Robin, Bob, John etc.

Nancy S. on 4/01/00 at 00:00 (018124)

You are making more and more sense to me re: stretch. This week has turned into an amazing fine-tuning experience.
I don't remember the kid who got the wedgy, so I feel left out, but I'm glad it wasn't you.
--Nancy

Re: On Stretching, and why Bob may be right re: Nancy, Robin, Bob, John etc.

Bob G. on 4/02/00 at 00:00 (018149)

I agree for the most part with Alan. Cold muscles don't stretch, they injure.

For myself, I massage my leg and foot before getting out of bed, get into proper footwear, get breakfast going, and then a short gentle stretch to begin the day. And just as Alan says, I don't hold it more than a secong or two.

But later in the day when everything's warmed up I feel comfortable at twenty second stretches.

Just my imput. I was on the road all day today and am glad to be home and heading for bed. When I realized I'd be walking around Berkeley for a couple hours, then San Francisco later, plus hundreds of miles of driving, I did take an ibuprofen as a precaution. I was a good day because there was no PF pain. Good night!