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Saturday, July 6, 2013

BUT I DON'T FEEL IT....

R.E.P.S.! 
Return to Extraordinary Performance Series
Innovative and Progressive Sports injury prevention/management Techniques.
This is a first in a monthly series discussing common fitness related injuries and how to prevent and/or manage them.
Part 1 of 2


"...But I can't feel it"
and other ways to hurt yourself

I have seen many fads and trends in the fitness industry come and go and come and go; get reduxed and remixed and, well you get it. One the most popular and most understood, controversial and antecedotal is stretching. How often have you witnessed someone suffering a muscle 'pull' from running, jumping, sprinting, lifting, contracting, bending forward, bending backward etc? And the first thing we thing is "you gotta stretch more". But this person stretches ALL the time! What about the person that doesn't stretch all the time that doesn't get muscle pulls?!  Why I can only theorize about the latter, I can say without a doubt that many of the stretching techniques are dated! In fact, many of the dated stretches, especially if done in high frequencies, can induce and predispose you to injury ie. muscle tears and tendon irritation!  

Remember back when we were in gym class back when gas was 50 cent a gallon(really, fiddy) and we had the THE classics: The 'butterfly', straight leg stretch, sit and touch toes and  who can forget the 'Hurdlers stretch and there are so many others that really made NO sense at all. That's because the science of sports medicine and performance was predominately accessible to clinicians and not the lay public. The Internet of course changed all of that.  Well, many of these stretches were breaching the muscle and tendons tensile capacities. Yes. Like any biological tissue under chronic stress, it weakens. 

Take for example the popular 'Hammie' pull. For those of you just coming from under that rock, Hammie is short for hamstring pull. That muscle that is between your butt muscle and knee joint. This is the most popular and yet the most 'stretch abused' muscle on the body! Yet, it still gets torn or irritated because the conventional notion or logic is that 'the muscle is tight so stretch it'. Why that may be true, it gets mistreated because even though it tears, you will still stretch it using the same technique thinking you didn't stretch it enough.

Next, is the calf muscle. How many of you find a stair, curb, or any surface that will let you place the ball of your foot on it, then drop the heel off the edge so you feel that Achilles tendon pull on the back of your heel all the way up the back of your calf. Yeah. Great stretch. Right? Wrong! When have you EVER done any athletic movement where the heel does that? YOU HAVEN'T! Many of those who do this stretch don't know why the calf STILL feels tight. The same goes for the ever-popular 'wall stretch'(see pic);another one that should go into the Hall of infamous Stretches! 

The most notorious of muscle pulls and holding the top spot for decades is the ever popular low back pain!. Jeez!  'if I had a dollar for the number of backs that I have treated that were self induced, well... I just say'n. This muscle is the most understated in terms of its intimate relationship with the muscles I have mentioned earlier. Yes. The back is responsible for the mobility of the hamstring and calf and a host of other muscles that rely on lower back efficiency and function. No. Doing a bunch of of bent over toe touches, knees to chest, knees side to side, etc does not even begin to address this powerful amalgamation of  muscles that collaborate to give us this powerfull 'slab' of muscle that has implications from above the butt all the way up to the base of the skull!. Yup.

Now when I demonstrate the proper series of stretching techniques for the hamstring, calf and back and a host of other muscles, the common refrain is "But I don't feel it." And there lye's the problem. The notion that you have to feel it for it to work. But for centuries that has been ingrained into our fitness psyche, 'no pain no gain' and 'feel the burn' and "if it hurts then I MUST be doing it right" . Put another way, if you keep hitting your thumb with a hammer, hopefully you'd stop. Hopefully. But there is a better way....

Part 2: Better Way to stretch and you MAY not feel it!

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