Pain Myth #2: Just Stretch It

myth 2

This is Part 2 of our 5 Part pain myth series “Myths You Were Told You About Your Pain”

     Pain Myth #1: “Rest Will Fix Your Problem”

     Pain Myth #3: “A Cortisone Injection is the Answer To Your Problem”

     Pain Myth #4: “It’s Because of Your Age”

     Pain Myth #5: “You Need To Get an MRI”

“Just stretch it” is probably one of the most common pieces of advice people are given about how to fix their pain…and very often it’s bad advice.

This advice usually comes from people who have no professional background in dealing with people in pain and how the body moves.

Although sometimes, this advice may come from a medical professional.  After talking to you for a couple minutes about your pain, they may suggest taking a pain medication and hand you a generic sheet of stretches that they give people with (insert body part here) pain.  This blanket approach is rarely successful as no two people can be treated exactly the same way.

Let’s Run Through a Common Scenario…

You feel some pain in neck, so you lay low for a couple weeks thinking it will go away and it doesn’t (see Myth #1: “Rest Will Fix Your Problem” for more on that).

Maybe you’ve been gives a generic sheet of stretches to do. This blanket approach rarely works though as no two people can be treated exactly the same way.

So you do the stretches for a few weeks and while it temporarily feels a little better after the stretching, overall your pain and limitations are still there….and you feel like you wasted a few weeks of your life.

And now you’re frustrated and confused as to what you should do to help your problem.

How About Another One I Hear All The Time…

“My hamstrings are always tight.  I stretch them all the time and they’re still tight.”

Then stretching obviously (or maybe not so obviously)  isn’t the solution to your problem.  There are many reasons why someone can feel “tightness” in their hamstrings and it takes a movement specialist to figure out the root cause of the problem…not someone who just hands you a piece of paper with a couple hamstring stretches on it.

There are even some movement specialists out there who say “tight’ hamstrings are the epidemic that never actually existed.

Why You Should Stop Stretching

Simply put, if stretching was the answer to your problem, then you wouldn’t have your problem anymore.  Think about it, if you’re stretching the same area over and over and you still feel tight….then stretching clearly isn’t helping and there is a different answer to your problem.

In some instances, stretching may be beneficial, but other times it could actually make your problem worse. Think about this – you tie a knot in a piece of rope and you pull on both ends stretching the rope.  What happens?…the knot gets tighter.  Think about that analogy the next time something feels tight and you try to stretch it out.

Get a Free Phone Consultation

There are many reasons why stretching may not be helpful, most of which quite complicated and confusing.  So, if this article really hits home with you, I recommend you seek out a physical therapist who specializes in movement and can view your problem from a different perspective.  Because right now, the approach you’re taking is wasting time and energy and potentially making the problem worse!

Pain Myth #3: “A Cortisone Injection is the Answer To Your Problem”

kim gladfelter physiofit 1ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim Gladfelter, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Women's Health Physical Therapy Specialist at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness

Kim Gladfelter is a physical therapist, Pilates instructor, educator, author, and co-founder of PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness. She is known as a keen, well-rounded expert of healing through movement and women’s health specialist in the Silicon Valley area.

Kim has helped men and women of all ages to stay active and feel their best. She also writes about managing pain in her health columns, blogs and the local Los Altos Town Crier newspaper as well as reaches out to the local community, support groups, schools, libraries, and sports centers to advise and educate on body awareness and therapeutic exercise.

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