We have all been there! It is so frustrating and just leaves you hopeless. You go to a stretch class and watch the teacher demonstrate the stretches that she/he thinks we will do later. The problem is, as you are watching them do the stretches, you are thinking, my body has never been in that position. Worse yet, my body will never get in that position without permanent damage! It is amazing to see the limitless movements of some people’s bodies, but honestly, if you have not stretched in more than 15 years, if ever, the chances of you getting there are hopeless. This is why stretching doe not work.
There are several mistakes that stretching teachers make which can easily scare away beginners. What I just described is very common. Sure the teacher can stretch in those positions and may have been able to stretch like that their whole life. This is called, “Know your audience.” If you are teaching a beginning class for people that have never stretched, most will disengage, while others may hurt themselves. For more information, https://musclerepairshop.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2186&action=edit
The biggest mistake I see with stretching instructors from therapists to trainers is the lack of training in the role that the brain plays with stretching a muscle. For the last hundred years, we have stretched muscles by force by holding for long periods of time or increasing the pressure rapidly. Neither will ever get you flexible and may cause an injury. Yoga, which I love, is great for flexible people. Most beginners to yoga want to become more flexible and they see yoga as beautiful and relaxing. The problem is when you get into a pose and hold, your brain is thinking, “How can I get out of this!!” This is called the “Fight or Flight Syndrome,” which is a natural response to pain. Your brain’s job is to keep you safe.
How Can You Stretch Better?
The best way to answer, Why Stretching Does Not Work, is to explain the different mindset that is needed. For starters, forget everything you have ever learned about stretching. I do not care who you learned it from. If you have not stretched since high school and stiff as a board, traditional stretching of any kind will not work. To stretch properly you must first understand how the brain works with pain. If your brain does not believe that you can do something, it will not let you do it because of the anticipation of pain.
If you have never done a split and try to do it, you will either fail or hurt yourself badly. Failure comes because you listened to your brain and did not go there. Hurting yourself is from ignoring your brain and pushing through it. The latter is more of a sign of ignorance about the brain.
Begin your stretching program by listening to our brain. The apprehension is due to fear of pain. Do not force the movement. Go as far as you can with just a little pull. Relax for 5 seconds and breathe feeling the muscle. Then release it and allow it to relax. You can try this same movement up to 10 times. What you are doing is letting your brain know that the movement is possible. Stop and do it again tomorrow. It is a slow process, but it will prevent cramping, soreness, and damage to the muscle by doing too much too fast. You can do this with every area of your body. Check out my videos at https://www.youtube.com/musclerepairshop
Learning how to use the brain to free your body works much faster than you think. The more you practice, the better you get at listening to your brain. Once you get this, stretching out muscles become very easy because when you are not fighting with your brain, the body can let go. This is the emotional side of the muscles.