#1 The Longer you hold the stretch, the better- Traditionally most people who stretch will hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds. Why do they do this? They were taught by a professional, or friend, who said by holding this stretch for 20-30 seconds you will thoroughly stretch the muscle. I used to be one of those guys. The truth is, holding a muscle for more than 2-3 seconds actually will shorten the muscle. As you hold the muscle beyond the 2-3 seconds, the muscle begins to fight back and resist. Much like when you are lifting weights. The muscle will feel hard and tight. By holding the stretch for 2-3 seconds, then repeating the stretch 10 times for a set, you warm up the muscle tissue, relax the muscle by breathing with the stretch, and actually have more range of motion faster.

#2 It is best to use a Stretchy Band when stretching- a stretchy band is nothing more than a large rubber band. Try this. Take a regular rubber band and place it around you finger with the fingernail facing you. Pull your finger back toward you. It should come back to a 90 degree angle. Watch the rubber band as your finger gets to its peak position. The rubber band just stretches at that point. Now get something that is not stretchy and do the same thing. Feel the difference? You should, as you can put more pressure on the joint. The same is true for your legs, hips, or back. I always give my clients an 8’ soft rope that I get at Lowes to stretch with at home.

#3 Stretching will cause injuries- The way most people are taught to stretch, this is a true statement. However that is not real stretching. I don’t care what it is, if you apply enough pressure, for a long enough period of time, it will break or tear. By holding stretches for long periods of time and usually in one position, the risk of breaking or tearing something is much higher. By stretching with Active Isolated Stretching, you will stretch in a slow, very methodical way, allowing the body to stretch without forcing anything. Most of these stretch poses I see demonstrated by healthcare professionals are dangerous, if done without supervision. I prefer teaching my clients to breath, relax, and take their time. Focus on one muscle at a time. Did you know that the calf consists of 4 major muscles? Yet, you see people being taught to stretch the whole calf at one time, in one motion. Plus holding it for a long period of time. It actually takes 3 separate movements at the top and bottom of the calf to stretch it properly. Forcing your body to stretch will cause injuries.

#4 I need to be flexible and in shape before I stretch- Part of being in shape is to have flexibility. If you are starting a workout program it is important to learn how to stretch after your workout to reduce soreness and tightness the next day. By opening up the joints you will be able to utilize your new strength quicker and also be much stronger.

#5 I am too old to start stretching- No matter your age, stretching can be very beneficial to you. In fact the older you get the more stretching you need to do. As we age, our joints start to hurt. It becomes difficult to raise our arms or even get out of a chair. It is not your age, it’s the rust that has accumulated all over your body. Remember the last time you bought that brand new car. It hardly needed any maintenance at all. Then as it started to age, it needed more and more care. Your body is no different. As children we lift our arms, run, and play all day. As we got older, mom tells us to act like an adult and stop that foolishness. So we did. Now, since we haven’t lifted our arms or legs in many years, the rust has set in and we can’t. We don’t call it rust, we call it arthritis. For many, the movement would stop the pain you feel daily. I volunteer at a senior every Tuesday afternoon. The doctors there love to watch help the seniors re-gain there movement and stop their pain. It is so wonderful to see peole who are 70, 80, even 90 years old moving their bodies like they did 20 or 30 years ago.
For more information you can go to www.MuscleRepairShop.com or email me at butch@MuscleRepairShop.com, or call me at 941-922-2929.

Author's Bio: 

Butch Phelps is a licensed massage therapist, and certified Active Isolated Stretching therapist for over 5 years.