Is Stretching Good for Injury?

Is Stretching Good for Injury?

This is a question I often get asked when I first meet a client.

The answer to this question is slightly more complicated than you’d think. 

In order to break this down, I’ve started by defining some concepts below. 

What is stretching?

Stretching involves passively taking a muscle to its end range. At this point, a stretch reflex is triggered. The role of this reflex is to protect the body from injury. 

What is the point of stretching? 

The aim of stretching is to increase the range of motion of the muscle and thereby reduce the frequency at which the body triggers the stretch reflex. 

Now that we understand the purpose of stretching, let’s discuss why muscle’s feel ‘tight’.

  1. It’s compensating for something 
  2. It’s fatigued 
  3. It’s weak
  4. It is in a shortened position for a prolonged period of time 

So why does this matter? 

If we can understand why a muscle feels tight, we can start to address the primary problem. If we can fix the primary problem (weakness, instability, compensatory patterns) we can relieve the perception of tightness (often without needing to stretch). 

Can I just stretch anyway? 

Whilst there are circumstances that call for stretching, increasing the range of the tissue can be counterproductive to recovery. For example, if the muscle ‘tightness’ is a result of weakness or instability, stretching may actually make the problem worse. 

To make understanding this process easier, I’ve put together a flow chart.

Chantelle Bailey  – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Chantelle Bailey – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Chantelle Bailey is a physiotherapist based in Double Bay, in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Chantelle has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. Chantelle specialises in strength coaching for women and has a strong focus on sports based injuries. To book a consultation, click the link below.

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