As we age or compensate for an injury, we tend to decrease our end range of movement to protect the joint or muscle. At some stage the brain has been given a message that this end range is going to be sore and cause inflammation, so in order to prevent further aggravation the body is going to do its best to keep you from extending to this point and beyond. The trouble is the body doesn’t know when the threat has gone.
We then see people trying to restore their normal function by stretching – they’re groaning in the gym and pushing things as far as they can but instead of loosening the muscles and increasing range of movement, what this actually does is send a message to the body that “I am going to hurt you!” So, what do you expect the the body to do? It’s forced to protect itself. And it does this by further restricting range of movement and inevitably lowering the threshold for pain at a neurological level. Now we’re caught in a bad cycle.
I suggest you get in front of a mirror and look carefully at how your body moves in all directions. You will begin to notice where you are restricted such as one side not moving as deeply or comfortably as the other. The goal is to start getting the body to move further but without triggering a defensive mechanism. In order to do this we must get the muscles contracting and cells firing before we begin stretching. One of the best ways to do this is by simply putting your muscle into a contracting state and hold for 10 – 15 seconds with no movement at all. Relax and repeat a few times. Now that the body is ready to be moved a bit more, begin your stretch – but only for a short period of time. Focus on stretching well within your normal pain levels.
Try stretching that area five or six times a day but only for five minutes and always contract the muscle before you stretch. Keep this up continually for a period of a week or two. Focus on getting that muscle moving more and more and more but without any pain or any reason for the body to become hyper sensitised to end range pain.
The reason for doing this is to rid any compensatory gaits. Arthritis will begin when a joint no longer moves well and is the body attempting to stabilise a joint. You don’t need to go beyond a normal range and by merely looking in a mirror, most of us can work out where that range should be.
Today’s Challenge: Get brave. Get your gears off. Stand in front of a mirror and start looking at how well you can move in all directions. Find those problems areas and begin working on them a couple minutes at a time.
— Dr. Ed Timings | International speaker, chiropractor, ironman, university tutor, and PREKURE Lead Health Coach