Dealing with back pain is a debilitating and frustrating existence; our daily lives can be dominated by either the fear of pain or coping with flare-ups.
The complex nature of backs and the unpredictability of treatment and management of back pain has led to a multitude of myths floating around, some of which were based from what the medical profession understood at the time.
Thankfully, over the last decade, the understanding of backs and their relationship with injury and pain has improved immeasurably – yet unfortunately many of these myths persist.
Some research has suggested that static stretching before an activity can actually reduce power, strength and performance. However, these reductions were shown to be minimal and not noticed at all if the stretches were held for less than 45 seconds. It has also been found that stretching does improve flexibility but only for a short period of time. A few minutes after stretching, your joints move further, and with less resistance, so you may have improved flexibility immediately after stretching.
Why stretch at all?
If you’re an athlete, the decision to stretch or not can be a personal one. A warm-up prior to intense exercise that includes some form of dynamic stretching is generally recommended for reducing injury risk, but of course is no guarantee. Strength and balance training may have a far greater impact on reducing injuries in the long term.
Your physiotherapist is able to guide you on the best stretching advice for your individual activity and they may be able to identify some areas where improving your flexibility will help to reduce injuries and improve performance.
To stretch the pectoral muscles, stand by the side of a wall or doorway and have your arm positioned at about 90 degrees. Then take a small step and lean forward. Hold that pressure and turn to the opposite side until you feel the stretch across your front chest.
To stretch in lying, first lie on your side with your top leg bent and bottom leg straight. Lift your arm up to the sky and then twist backwards and allow your arm to come close to the floor. Keep your elbow bent in this position and hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
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