Regular and whole body flexibility
It’s time to get serious about an often overlooked or glossed-over part of the healing process, and an area that we encourage our clients to incorporate into their everyday lives. It’s Step 4 in our ‘5 Steps to Healing’ program – Regular and Whole Body Flexibility.
At this point in the program – especially when working our way back from an injury – we’ve switched the nervous system back on, freed up any stuck joints, and we’ve started work to strengthen weak parts of the body. Now it’s time to work on lengthening muscles that have contracted or tightened during the injury phase, and to make sure our whole body remains flexible and able to handle the workloads we intend to place on it day to day.
The issue – muscle tightening
A part of the human experience is feeling the tightness that comes along with a physical injury – the body tenses and tightens when it gets overwhelmed or injured. The nervous system switches off the area and then instructs certain muscles to tighten, to reduce movement and help stabilise the area – a defence mechanism. The long term problem is that the muscles can end up staying in this contracted position, which doesn’t feel very good, promotes dysfunction and can leave you more susceptible to re-injury.
In our experience, simply adjusting the spine and pelvis to reset muscle reflexes is often ineffective as a long-term solution, and we’ve found that addressing and working with muscles specifically is what’s needed for people to regain flexibility and function.
Treatment at the clinic
There are several ways to speed this process up, and the most powerful we’ve found is a technique from Quantum Neurology called ‘Muscle Lengthening’. This technique uses kinesiology and the Low Level Light Device in conjunction with each specific stretch, which loads the shortened muscle. We have seen tight muscles simply melt in seconds, and permanently return to pre-injury length. We’ve had a lot of success with this technique on the psoas muscle (a large hip flexor which compresses the lumbar spine when it is tight), the hamstrings, pecs and the internal rotators of the shoulder.
Homework – Whole body stretching routine
Once we have your body moving more freely, we recommend a whole body stretching routine to keep you in the healing zone and reduce stiffness from life’s daily activities. General muscle stiffness is often associated with aging and feeling old – so our solution for feeling youthful is to keep the body flexible through a regular (if not daily) stretching routine.
The benefits also include improving your physical performance and resilience to fatigue, not to mention a more attractive walk! A daily stretching routine is also a powerful way to calm a busy mind – a great way to start or finish a busy day.
Stretching will also let you know if something is wrong – unexpected tightness or an unwillingness for muscles to release could be a sign you overextended in your last fitness session, or increased a running workload too quickly, or simply need more time to get over something like a long-haul flight.
Finding the right routine for you
There are many styles and much discussion about the ‘best’ stretching techniques. You can watch the video above of the whole body stretch routine I’ve developed and recommend, which uses your own muscles to pull into the position of stretch, breathing deeply for 20-60 seconds, more or less till you feel the body letting you move further.
For an even deeper release in the selected muscle, try activating the muscle when near the comfortable limit. After 10 seconds release the contraction and allow the body to relax even deeper.
Just keep in mind that for painful muscles it may be better to use a slow, gentle approach and hold the stretch for longer.
Experiment with these stretches to see what works best for you, and feel free to get in touch at any time for help or advice!