Archives for stretching

The Time of Day You Are Most Susceptible to a Lower Back Injury

If you have ever heard that you are taller in the morning compared to any other time during the day, well it’s actually true. Our spine literally becomes longer. The discs in our spine do not receive blood flow like most other joints in our body. Instead, when we lie down at night, fluid around and in our discs increases and hydration is at its highest first thing in the morning. The increased nutrients to our discs is a good thing, but there is a negative side effect.
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Dynamic Vs. Static Stretching

Simply put, static stretching involves applying a stretch, and holding it for a period of time.  Usually 30-45 seconds.  Dynamic stretching on the other hand, is stretching while moving.  It is good to have an understanding of what affect each of them have and also know when to apply them.
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When Is Stretching Not Recommended?

stretchingMost patients will say that stretching seems to make them feel better and more mobile. Although stretching is important, it is not always recommended once pain starts.  Stretching is designed to lengthen muscles and tendons, but back problems typically affect the ligaments. The problem here is that the ligaments are stretched out, allowing what is known as creep to happen.  Creep is a progressive change or length which occurs when the joint and ligaments are under a constant load they were not designed to handle. So while stretching may help a tight muscle, in this case its effect on ligaments can be detrimental.
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The Hip Flexor Stretch

hip-and-pelvis2Adding hip flexor stretches can have a positive effect on function of the hip and pelvis, posture, and ultimately reducing pain when performed correctly.  The hip flexor is a group muscles that assist with, doing just what is says…flexing the hip.  If you sit at a desk for work, this will most likely be tight. The muscles originate and attach as high as the spine and as low as the thigh, just above the knee.  Of course most of the muscles will have attachments at the hip and pelvis itself.  Statically when they are tight or restricted they can cause a forward rocking of the pelvis.  We call this “sway back” posture.  Ultimately what this does is cause an increase curvature in our lumber spine.  Also, if the muscle group is tight the hip joint will become limited resulting in overuse of the low back muscles to compensate.

Here are the basics of how to properly stretch the hip flexor.
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Simple as tight hamstrings?

As far as complaints of tightness, hamstrings definitely lead the way.  Whether or not it mechanically leads to pain is one thing, but are the hamstrings actually tight in the first place?  A common assumption is that if you keep your knees straight, bend at the waist, and can’t touch your toes then you have tight hamstrings.  Well maybe, but there is a good chance that something else may need to be addressed.  So what else could it be?
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When, and when not, to do this.

If you “stretch out” first, you’ll lessen your chance of injury, right? Unfortunately this is not totally true, even though we’ve been told this time and time again. There is no research, and there has been plenty of it done, to show that if we are less likely to get injured if we stretch first. Here are a few of my guidelines regarding static stretching that may help you understand how and when to better use it.
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