A question I frequently get asked in clinic is, “how can I become more flexible?” Often this question comes from patients and people like myself who have never been flexible and who find it difficult to stretch or gain any range from stretching.
Luckily there some advanced stretching techniques widely practiced amongst Occupational Therapists, Physios and Musculoskeletal Therapists, which I’ll share with you today. These techniques make stretching easier because it ‘tricks’ the sensors in our muscles allowing them to relax and stretch further.
This stretching technique is called Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF.) Now the word is a mouthful, but when you know a key few steps, the technique is relatively simple and easy to apply.
PNF involves passively stretching a muscle group, then contracting the muscle against resistance while in the stretched position, then passively stretching again which increases the range of motion and helps you to stretch further, increasing flexibility.
How to practice PNF techniques:
Taking the target muscle to a comfortable stretch, holding for 20-30 seconds, contracting that muscle for 15 seconds, and then relax and bring the muscle further to the next comfortable stretch. Usually 3-5 times or until you hit end range.
Here is an example applied to hamstrings:
Continue reading “How to get flexible fast — improve your flexibility and performance”
We spend most of our days doing repetitive exercises such as sitting at a desk, driving, carrying a baby etc. This makes the muscles we use repetitively stronger and tighter than the other muscles in our body. Stretching is vital to reduce the pain caused by these repetitive movements as it relaxes muscles which have become tight from over use. Stretching also gives the muscles we don’t use often a chance to work properly by releasing the tight opposing muscles, giving the body a more balanced posture.
Thoracic Extension with towel and Pectoralis stretch
This stretch is a great way to ease your upper back from stiffness and pain. It also helps reduce back pain by allowing you to sit up straighter by lengthening the muscle which cause hunching. Benefits : Desk workers, taxi drivers, trades men, mothers, sporting athletes and most everyday people.
- Lying on a flat surface, place a rolled up towel under thoracic spine (cross ways) to where you feel is most stiff. Place a pillow under head and neck for support and bring arms out to the side until you feel a stretch through your pectoralis muscles / chest.
- Your will feel extension through your spine where the towel is sitting allowing pectoralis muscles to stretch out.
- Hold for 20 – 30 seconds. Move the arms above your head, beside your ears to stretch further.
Continue reading “Back & Neck Stretches”