People often come to me and tell me that they have been performing routine exercises to keep themselves flexible. Oddly enough they often report that inspite of their efforts they still feel very stiff.
One reason that is often overlooked is that they are actually trying to stretch the wrong area/tissue. If you want to improve flexibility, whatever your particular strategy, you need to stretch the correct area.
An example: People often try to stretch their hamstrings by putting one leg on a stool and then bending their heads down towards their knee. When you bend forward you are actually releasing the pressure on the hamstrings as you use the flexibility in your spine to get your head closer. If you want to stretch one area (and this is not always the case) then it is best to localise your stretch. To get the hamstrings you can first keep your back straight and push your shest out to remove all spinal flexion. You then put one leg on a stool and then lean forward like you were a waiter bowing (this is only one of the many ways to stretch the hamstrings). You should worry less about how far you go and more about where you actually feel the stretch. You wil get mostly the hamstrings if you leave your foot relaxed. You will get the calf muscles as well if you pull your foot up towards you. Further load can be applied by turning your pelvis/hip/leg so that everything is kept square and there is no where else that can give way to relieve the load on the hamstrings. I could give you more variations but this would be a could starting stretch.
Add some relaxed breathing, sustained holding and a bit of patience (repeating 3-4 times for 10 + seconds ,3-4 times a day)and over a few weeks you will feel your hamstrings getting looser.
The important thing to remember is that if you don't feel a stretch in the right area when stretching then you aren't really stretching…
Good luck with your health and fitness.
Often patients ask why they have a problem in a certain place when there has been no obvious injury or reason for a complaint that has snuck into their lives. There might not be any obvious incident and they can't think of anything they have done to cause their discomfort.
One way of looking at how the body behaves is to think that it will take care of you as long as it can. But that is as long as your wants match what is natural. You have reflexes that try to keep your head vertical. Your nervous system is programmed to be sure that certain basic requirements happen.
In the case of a sore knee there are many factors that might be at fault. If you have a problem your body will shift the pressure to another area to keep that part from becoming symptomatic and interfering with its tasks. This will continue to happen so as the next area becomes overloaded the pressure will shift again. When there is no where left for the pressure to go the weakest part will become irritated. If you get a stiff hip you may change the way you walk. This may affect your back or your ankle. As those areas start to stiffen up to try to avoid becoming irritated the knee will take more pressure. Eventually you will find you knee complaining. Too often treatment can be applied to the sore knee alone which is which is the victim in this conspiracy. You have to look hard to see the stiffness (which does not hurt, only limit you) or weakness(which you will compensate for) and the real criminal area that has made your knee hurt you.
Whatever type of treatment you engage in the important thing in the long run is to be sure that the cause and not just the effects are dealt with. Treating the pain alone will give relief temporarily but the underlying problems will eventually come back to haunt you.
Hope this has provoked some thoughts. Sorry I took so long to get something new on here. I will try harder next time.
Best wishes and hope you are having a great summer!!