Do you stretch your hamstrings every day? How about your hip flexors? Has anything changed? Feeling looser?
Most people that know me know that I am quite anti “stretching.” What that means is that I don’t believe passive stretching is a good use of time. Passive means that there is no active component to the “stretch,” meaning that the brain isn’t talking to the muscle saying “Hey you! Lengthen out please!”
What I do care about is Motor Control, or the ability of the brain to allow a muscle/tendon to lengthen in order to allow change to occur at a joint (and all the components surrounding a joint).
Most injuries don’t occur in a single plane or neutral position yet most passive stretching is done in single plane. That passive hamstring stretch you do every morning in bed or that someone else does to you isn’t going to prevent you from falling when you trip over a floor rug BUT training your hamstrings to quickly lengthen to adjust to a difference in your center of gravity will!
A better alternative is actively trying to achieve length via dynamic stretching or other techniques like CARs (controlled articulate rotations). I also like mobility work that stimulates joint and peripheral mechanoreceptors to respond to changes in joint space and superficial stimulation (ie; foam rolling, yoga type positions).
Ultimately, try focusing on stability (more on this topic later) and giving the brain positive feedback. The safer the brain feels the more freedom of movement the extremities are granted.
About the author:
Dr. Sarah Cash Crawford, PT, DPT, COMT, CMTPT, is a physical therapist and certified myofasical trigger point therapist through Myopain Seminars ®, the only certifying body of Trigger Point Dry Needling in the US. Dr. Crawford trained under Jan Dommerholt, PT and founder of Myopain Seminars ®, who worked directly under Drs. Travell and Simmons in his pursuit to bring dry needling to the U.S. Dr. Crawford has been performing Trigger Point Dry Needling the Cincinnati area for over six years and was the first CMTPT in the state of Ohio. She has been a practicing physical therapy for eight years. With a background in neurologic rehabilitation, manual therapy and a specialty in treating chronic pain, Dr. Crawford began studying dry needling to further expand her treatment options to help patients overcome the influence of myofascial restriction. Dr. Crawford is the founder of Anchor Wellness, Inc., an integrative health practice that specializes in physical therapy, pilates and health coaching.