• Alison Synakowski

Stretching, Foam Rolling and More….

So many times I get questions about “how much should I stretch” or statements such as “I foam roll/stretch every day”. “Is this good? Is it bad”. “It’s hard for me to fit it all in”.

I answer first with a couple of questions

1. How does “it” make you feel? If the answer is good - cool keep going, If the answer is I do not feel any different - then I ask why are you doing it?

2. What’s the purpose behind what you are doing? If there is an understanding, a true understanding of what you are doing - great. But if the answer is “I thought it was good for me” or “because that’s what is always done” - I will question this.

A woman who has been a mentor to me - Dr. Laura Latham, DC in Boston - said what I have always felt - and it stuck with me. “I am not against stretching but the dogma that surrounds it”.

I feel the same, and the same about foam rolling. If this is labeled as “the fix” for your situation - I will question that. If you can “stretch” the same muscle by doing an active movement and groove a better pattern into your brain - then why sit there, spend a ton of minutes stretching.

Let me give a couple examples.

Hip flexor stretching - why not just do a lunge?

Hamstring stretching - why not just a crunch or curl up, or a dead lift?

When doing an active movement - you will make the opposite muscle relax (e.g. do a bicep curl - and your tricep relaxes).

Many “tight” muscles are not truly short and tight, but they are HOLDING ON tight, maybe for a protective reason. If you “stretch much better after you warm up” - chances are you have the later issue - these muscles are finding the need to “hold tension” vs be in a relaxed state. This is movement issue, not a muscle length issue.

Does this mean I never give stretching or foam rolling - no, I do, but I will say it is rare - and if you come in saying “I’ve been stretching my hamstrings all of the time, for years” - the chances of me giving you a hamstring stretch are slim to none (unless it makes you happy).

Foam rolling - it can feel nice (or not :) ), it can help you feel better with movement, maybe it helps you recover a bit from the work out. Typically I will program this as a part of a pre-warm-up warm-up (more of an assess the tissue activity) - or at the very end of the session.

Stretching - I have to be honest - I rarely give to someone. That does not mean never, but rare - again I tend to favor active movement.

Remember - the guidelines for physical activity are 30 minutes of “huff and puff” exercise daily and 2 resistance training days a week. If you are not hitting these - working towards these should be the initial goal. If you are hitting these - then ensuring you have solid foundations of movement is next.

So if you stretch or foam roll often and you like it - don’t stop, but if you find you are spending a lot of time doing it and maybe could be active during this time instead or spending more time on things you like to do - maybe it's time for a change of your program.

30 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

As we’ve shifted to a more “functional training” mind set - we often leave out “isolated” work to muscles. While I do believe you will hit most muscles during your major movements (squat, lunge, carry

We’ve all heard the saying “Sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. This statement, when it comes to pain couldn’t be more false. Words hurt. Labels hurt. Fear hurts. The

Being prepared to discuss your issues and concerns with your physician are crucial. The reality is - most providers are not able to spend time with you, and thus the more prepared you are going into