Stretch for Bad back
Stretching is perhaps one of the most controversial fitness subjects of present day. Passionate debates arise between those who perceive the benefits of stretching and those, like me, who think stretching is one of the worst activities you can partake in, especially if you’re already injured. It’s a tradition that’s hard to break because so many of us have the stretching necessity ingrained in our heads as we’ve listened to coaches, trainers, professional athletes, researchers, and doctors throughout our fitness lives. Although research shows stretching has no value and may actually cause harm, people find it difficult to “Just Say ‘no’ to stretching.” Now, to clarify, I’m primarily talking about static stretching – that’s the “stretch and hold” type of stretching. Dynamic stretching and other stretching programs can help with natural movements and range of motion that typically aren’t harmful if done properly. I’m all for moving natural and natural/normal range of motion of joints and muscles but I don’t think that we need to call this “stretching”. Read on to understand my madness and if stretching is good or bad and please see my four-part 2016 series on stretching for the most detailed and updated stretching information.
Is Stretching Good or Bad?
I don’t stretch. I’ve never advised any patient, athlete, or anyone who cares about their health to stretch. I am in very good health and stay pretty fit all year long. Although I don’t stretch at all, I’m rather flexible. This is because flexibility is a reflection of health and fitness, not stretching. I have had two interesting experiences over the past couple years with coaches I hired for a bit to help me with my swimming and cycling techniques. The swim coach noticed I was not extending my arm out far enough in the water and therefore not grabbing as much water as I could be. Essentially I was not making myself as long as I should and streamlining through the water. So he pulled me out of the pool and showed me what to do on land. He commented on how I was too tight and needed to stretch my arms out more to get the length I was looking for. But when I was able to do on land what he wanted me to do in the water he was amazed I could extend my body (arm) out so much. I was not inflexible, I just had poor swim technique, and that needed correction. My cycling coach was also surprised when he was checking my flexibility to adjust my bike position. His initial comment was that I must stretch a lot as I was pretty flexible for someone who can remain in a bent over aero position on a bike for five or more hours. I still don’t think he believed me when I told him I never stretch. I did stretch a lot in high school – before cross country practice, some in wrestling practice, and on my own. I was injured a lot. When I wasn’t injured, I was still having some muscular issue somewhere. Now I subscribe to my no stretching, no injuries program.