Stretching

Don’t Blame it on Your Age

Most people never think about old age until they are in their 50’s and 60’s. I remember when I was 49, my friends started teasing me about all the pain I would start feeling after I turned 50. Though they were teasing, my friends, like most people actually do believe this. Most people think that there is something about 40,50,or 60 that causes aches and pain. The truth is it takes 40 or 50 years of abuse before it catches up to us.

If we could teach young people how to care for their bodies correctly, many aches and pains that plague older people would disappear. This change in our lives could have a major impact on health care costs.

Do you think that going to the gym is enough. Maybe you prefer yoga, pilates, or any other activity for fitness. All of these are great ways to increase your strength, but can lead to injuries because we leave out releasing the muscles. The core question should always be, am I stretching or strength training? Even in yoga, if you are holding poses, you are stamina training which is not stretching, or releasing, the muscles. Once you learn how to release your muscles emotionally, then releasing physically becomes easier. This can be harder than it sounds.

Stretching is very meditative if done correctly. You must feel your muscles letting go and slowly apply gentle pressure to give you brain time to release. Without doing this, you are just strength training which will tighten your muscles as if you were lifting weights.

Our muscles can tighten from stressful thoughts. Think about this, “Have you ever seen a stressed person look relaxed?” No! Their bodies are tight and that tightness comes from the thoughts they are having. My point is, when stretching,if you are thinking about the errands you must do, the bills that need to be paid, or the things you dread doing, you are tightening you muscles and therefore cannot stretch your body.

When you see a yogi master stretching, the music is very soft and soothing, it is quiet, and they are focused only on their body. It is difficult to stretch listening to fast paced music, weights clanging around, or people talking loud around you. Your brain has to relax before it can relax your muscles.

Some muscle experts will speak of muscle memory. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that every muscle has its own brain. We only have one brain and it creates the habits we do every day. If you change what you think, you can change how you feel. How many times have we heard motivation gurus say that? The reason is our brain determines how well we feel based on our habits. Change your habits, your life changes.

Please leave your comments below and suggest any new topics you want to hear about. You can watch and learn from my videos at my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop, or visit my website at http://www.MuscleRepairShop.com

Stretching

Do This 1 Thing to Improve Flexibility

We hear it all the time, “flexibility is the key to less injuries and daily chronic pain.” So why are we not able to attain what every person teaching stretching advertises? I see many stretching videos every day on the internet, a few I have purchased, to go more in depth. Consistently, I see this one thing that is missing. This one thing is the reason for your frustration and causing pain in your mobility.

The sad truth is, this is not even taught in medical or massage schools or certification processes. So what is this so valuable piece of information you ask? Don’t laugh! It is your MIND! I know, WHAT???? Yes, the most important key to flexibility is your mind.

We associate flexibility to young people. We think we are too old to be flexible. In fact, our idea of flexibility is flawed as well as how to become flexible. Let’s start with the idea of flexibility. We see athletes and performers that stand with their ankle behind their head or slide down into a split and think, we could never do that. You are probably correct in your thinking, but that is extreme flexibility. You walk every day, but do you walk as fast as a professional walker? Probably not, but it doesn’t stop you from walking, does it?

The flexibility you need to survive as a human is not so extreme. Proper flexibility can be attained and kept at any age. Proper flexibility will free your joints, spine, and nerves to reduce your daily aches and pains. Stretching will improve your mobility and balance. Your aches and pains come from joints being too tight due to tight muscles. This tightness causes your to expend more energy to move than for younger people. This is called rusting up, not old age. Thus rusting of the body leads to pinched nerves, bulging and herniated discs, and joint replacement. I believe most joint replacements could have been avoided if more people were flexible.

I remember in the move, “Bloodsport” Jean Claude VanDamme was shown being stretched by a martial arts master. VanDamme was between two trees with each foot tied to a tree and pulled apart by tightening the ropes. His hands were tied the same way and pulled apart by ropes too. It looked great on film, but in real life his body would be cramping beyond what he could have withstood. That is not how you improve flexibility!

Have you ever seen someone in a gym sitting on a weight machine designed for inner thighs and they try to use the weights to stretch their inner thighs? This is very common and is used by some trainers for stretching. Maybe you have done this! I love to ask trainers, therapists, and even some doctors, “Do you know the difference between Stretching and Strength Training?” Of course they all said yes. Next I ask them to show me. 90% of what we are told about stretching is actually strength training. I will go into more detail in a future post.

Let’s get back to the mind. Your brain is designed to prevent you from getting hurt or dying. It does it all day by helping you make wise choices. When you are stretching your muscles, the brain is being activated to prevent you from tearing or straining muscles. Especially if you are suffering a chronic injury you will be hypersensitive to pain.

The longer you hold a stretch and the pain increases, the more the brain will tighten the muscle. This is strength training. Think about it. When you lift a weight, you must tighten the muscle to move the weight, right? When your brain fears injury or pain, as the muscle is lengthen there is a slight resistance to the extension and that resistance is because the brain is afraid you will hurt yourself. Until the brain relaxes, the muscle can never relax. Yoga calls this, the mind body connection. Sadly, few people practicing yoga understand this as I have many clients that practice yoga and needed to learn this.

As you read my posts about various injuries, or watch my videos on YouTube, “The Muscle Repair Shop”, you will hear me say, “only hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times.” The reason for the short hold time is to avoid the stretch reflex from the brain out of fear and the 8-10 reps is to help the brain realize it can let go without pain.

My future posts will zero in on specific injuries or chronic pain and how to get rid of them quickly. If there is something you want more information about and I haven’t covered it, please leave a comment and I will address it quickly for you. My website, http://www.MuscleRepairShop.com can help you in finding answers to common questions. You are always welcome to call me anytime.

Stretching

Is it Really Your Age?

I just had a client come in to see me complaining of low back pain. She had been to doctors who had sent her to physical therapy. After several weeks of therapy, her back improved a little but still nagging her every time she did anything. She went back to her doctor to complain, he politely said to her, it is probably your age. This woman is less than fifty years old, how could it be her age? Most people would agree with the doctor, since all of our peers tell us that after 40 it is downhill from there.  With so many people living to well in their 80’s, that means that more than half your life is living in pain.

   According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, more people suffer with pain each year then diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Opiods have been the answer for a while and we are learning that is not working. Braces, injections, and surgeries don’t seem to be slowing the pain down. The question is what do we do now? When the lifespan was only 65-70 years old, we could survive till death, but today we are living much longer and it is becoming impossible to survive that long.

 The best answer I have seen is learning how the brain works with our muscles and how to stretch our bodies correctly. What we see in the gyms and on TV is not stretching correctly. It is disappointing to see all these highly educated people stretching people incorrectly. We need to teach them better. Learning to stretch correctly stopped my own back pain 16 years ago and I see it helping people everyday regardless of their ages. What age has to do with your aches and pains is to tell you how long it took you to get to the pain. Everybody at 50 does not have the same pain in the same place. Your pain has more to do with your lifestyle. Things like the way you walk, stand, and sit play a huge role in the amount of pain you suffer. I will talk in future posts more specifically about gait and posture so stay tuned for that. Be sure to ask questions or make comments on any of my posts as I am open to questions and comments.

Stretching

#1 Reason People Fail the Fitness Resolution!

 Happy New Year! Yes, it is that time of year again when we all create our New Year’s resolution. Not surprisingly, getting in shape always seems to be at the top of the list. Unfortunately, by February 1 we feel we have failed then just quit. I used to do the same thing. I had great intentions to lose the weight by going to the gym, but the problem was I felt worse after working out than I did fat. You miss a few training sessions and now you feel it is hopeless.

   I remember working in a gym as a trainer and  see the same people come in every December, buy a membership for themselves or a partner.  They would usually come in with new gym outfits and confident this would be the year to lose that weight. Sadly, by the second week of January, many would no longer come back. Then the next December it would start all over. Why is this so difficult?

   It can be hard to believe that we are no longer 22 years old anymore and the in the gym, that is very apparent. Members would come in and try pick up their workouts where they left off in high school or college. Of course that was 20 plus years ago which is a recipe for an injury. So the injury would stop them and leave them feeling like they are too old to work out. Others would come and workout as instructed but would wake up the next day sore and stiff. They would feel hopeless because they had pictured themselves feeling awesome as in the ads for the gym. Sometimes a trainer’s ego can get the best of them and they can work you too hard, too fast. Sadly, few people understand the value of proper stretching. Traditional stretching like you see in most gyms and schools is not correct stretching and may lead to more injuries.

   The #1 reason people fail to get fit, STIFFNESS! Yes, the work out will make you stronger, give you more stamina, and it will definitely make you stiff! I am not saying you should not work out, but you must add the stretching into the routine as well. Think of your car. We all know we need gas and oil for the car to keep running, correct? Think of strength training as the gas and stretching as the oil.Leave one out and the car stops, so will you.

  Strength training will build strength and improve stamina, but it shortens the muscles which apply pressure to your joints and nerves, including your back. That pressure will stop your body from producing enough lubricate in the joints and discs which allow you to move smoothly. The joints and discs will dry out and create arthritic conditions.

   Stretching, on the other hand, can free those joints by creating space between your vertebrae and joints which allow the lubricating fluid to soften and cushion to alleviate pain. Unfortunately, too many people hold their stretches too long and apply too much force which switches the stretching to strength training.

  So let’s make plans again this year to get in shape. Begin your workouts as soon as possible, let us teach you how to stretch properly, and visit a nutritionist to learn how to eat a proper diet to achieve your goals.  No diet that requires deprivation only will work. It is not about calories in, calories out, but your emotional tie to food. The quality of the food, like the quality of the gas in your car, will determine how well you run.With the proper plan you can achieve your goal. I know this works because I lost 105 lbs. in 1997 and I never re-gained it back by staying on the plan.