Often forgotten and yet most integral part of stretching, the ‘stretch reflex’, is the body’s built-in mechanism that instinctively shortens a muscle when it is moved too close to its ‘end point.’ This helpful stretch reflex will always activate before pain and will do it every time. If you have pain with stretching you are already past the ‘stretch reflex’ and you are now trying to force a muscle to keep lengthening.
You must first move very slowly and feel for the muscle to shorten the further you go. This is the ‘stretch reflex.’ Pay attention to it. You are getting closer when your skin feels tighter. Stop and stay there to see if you feel the muscles underneath start to tighten. Then, ‘let up’ a little, return to your ‘neutral’ spot, and repeat the process. After a few minutes of your body ‘trusting’ you not to go too far or too fast, the muscle starts to ‘let down’ and you can go further before you even feel the skin start to stretch.
Patricia S. Wesley, D.C. of Wesley Chiropractic & Acupuncture is located at 1014 Florida Avenue near Cocoa Village. For more information visit www.wesleychiropractic.info or call 321-631-2225.