Stretching won't fix everything
I most certainly wave the flag for team mobility and team flexibility. I believe it should be a part of a balanced fitness and wellness practice. And being able to move freely and without restriction will undoubtedly contribute to a better quality of life.
However, I really want to clear up some misconceptions around the 'healing' capabilities of stretching and the expectation that stretching alone will alleviate all your musculoskeletal issues.
Because it won't, and in some cases, it may even exacerbate them.
Injuries, usually occur through some weakness or instability, structural abnormality, poor movement awareness or all of the above.
If we look at those above causes of injury, stretching ALONE is never going to be able to prevent or cure those issues. And if you REALLY think about it - if your pain is coming from weakness, is it really a good idea to further stretch it?
Healthy movement of your body requires a balanced combination of stability AND mobility. As you walk down the street, your body is juggling the activation and relaxation of various muscles to help propel you forwards - (it's pretty amazing considering how little attention you now pay towards walking down the street - its second nature).
If your body feels unstable in a particular area, it may try to accommodate by making another nearby muscle work overtime to compensate for the weakness it is experiencing elsewhere. An excellent example of this is in the Trapezius and more specifically the top of the traps (think the top of your shoulders). If you are weak in your middle back and shoulders (mainly the rotator cuff muscles that really provide stability for a floating bone - your scapular), your traps step in for some overtime to make up for that weakness.
What happens when we work too much? We get tense.
So now you have these tight upper traps, and you ask me to help you release them with a stretch sequence - BUT WOAH NELLY!
It's not your Traps fault; they're just overworked because the tired middle back muscles and rotator cuff muscles are too shit at their job (aka. weak and underactive).
If you continue to stretch your traps, never addressing the real issue which is an upper body weakness, you are not going to fix your initial problem, and you may be further thrusting yourself towards an injury.
Sadly this scenario is all too common and I really hope this blog makes you think outside the stretch.
My hope is that the next time you feel tense, you check in with your regime to make sure that you are working towards both developing mobility BUT JUST AS IMPORTANTLY - STABILITY AS WELL.
Not sure where to start to develop a balanced approach to training?
Check out my book the Vertue Method - it contains a weight training programme, yoga and mobility sequences, as well as a Registered Dietician, approved food plan to fuel your body correctly also.