You’ve probably heard this before. Mainly as you may stretch too far and instead of lengthening a muscle you may tear it. This is especially true when you are cold and not thoroughly warmed up.
But there is another very good reason why you shouldn’t force a stretch; it’s not going to work!
To explain better here is a little background.
Any kind of movement or training requires muscles to contract or relax but it is your Central Nervous System (CNS) that controls them and tells them what to do, when to do it and with how much force.
You may think Strength and Flexibility is all about the muscles but it is controlled by the nervous system and often a muscle isn’t tight, it’s being told to be tight.
Flexibility is granted by the CNS and its main concern is “is it safe for me to give you it.” And if it’s not (eg. It may cause injury), it’ll lock down those muscles to prevent you doing any harm to yourself.
It’s very clever.
So when you are stretching, if you are gritting your teeth, tensing your jaw and/or breathing shallow, strained and fast your muscles are not going to relax as all these signal there’s a threat and that things are definitely not “safe”.
Stretching should be smooth, relaxed and should involve a nice relaxed exhale (think that relaxing exhale as you get into a nice warm bath). That way, you are signalling to your nervous system that everything is nice and safe, and your body will grant you that extra flexibility.
So stretching is not about pushing hard as your body will lock you down quicker than Boris.
Work with your nervous system, let it know everything is okay, breath smoothly, and relax into every stretch and it’ll give you flexibility.
If you want to learn this method, join our Tuesday night stretch class with me @ 8:00pm.