The second key to human movement is FLEXIBILITY. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), flexibility is defined as “the range of motion of a given joint or group of joints or the level of tissue extensibility that a muscle group possesses.” That means that each joint and each group of muscles in your body might have a different range of motion (ROM) or a different level of flexibility. Some areas of your body may be very tight, meaning that the muscles feel short and restricted. Some areas of your body may feel very loose and you may be able to lengthen and move those muscles freely.
For example, you might be very flexible in the hamstrings, allowing you to bend over and touch your toes. But your thighs (quadriceps) muscles might be tight (inflexible) so it may be harder for you to stand up straight or bend backward.
Many people who work in an office all day develop inflexible hips as a result of sitting all day. This is one of the reasons that we recommend that you stand up and move for a few minutes every hour.
There are many ways to increase flexibility in muscles that are tight and here at Chirofit Chiropractic Clinic in Chatsworth we do in office and home flexibility training to improve muscle range of motion.
What Is Flexibility Training?
Two ways of increasing range of motion in muscle tissue is stretching, self myofascial release (SMR) and myofascial release performed in office.
At Chirofit Chiropractic in Chatsworth we perform a thorough exam on the first visit that includes inspection of posture and ROM of areas of complaint. During this exam we learn which muscles are tight and we come up with a treatment plan that includes stretching, self myofascial release (SMR), in office myofascial release therapy and in office instrument assisted soft tissue therapy .
Stretching improves flexibility. But you don’t have to do hours of stretching to enjoy the benefits of flexibility training.
Here are the different types of stretching to improve flexibility:
Static stretching: You move into a position that lengthens a target muscle and hold the position for 30-60 seconds. It’s best to remember to breathe as you hold each stretch.
Dynamic stretching: You move in an out of a position that lengthens a target muscle. Dynamic stretches often involve a gentle bouncing movement and are sometimes called ballistic stretches.
Active isolated stretching (AIS): You move your joint through a complete range of motion, holding the endpoint only briefly, then return to the starting point and repeat. Many athletes and active exercisers use active isolated stretching to prevent injuries or muscle imbalance.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): is a more advanced form of flexibility training that involves both the stretching and contraction of the muscle group being targeted. PNF stretching is performed by the muscle group to be stretched is positioned so that the muscles are stretched and under tension. The individual then contracts the stretched muscle group for 5 – 6 seconds while a partner applies sufficient resistance to inhibit movement. Then the contracted muscle group is then relaxed and a controlled stretch is applied for about 20 to 30 seconds. The muscle group is then allowed 30 seconds to recover and the process is repeated 2 – 4 times. (This is the type of stretching we typically perform in office)
If you are not sure how to stretch you can take a stretching class or do an online video that focuses just on stretching exercises to improve range of motion throughout the body. These programs generally work on flexibility in the whole body and don’t typically focus on anyone one particular region or problem.
Self Myofascial Release (SMR)
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) stretching technique that has been embraced throughout the fitness and rehabilitation industries. This effective and simple to do technique delivers positive, feel good results. Using the foam roller can deliver improvements in flexibility, muscle recovery, movement efficiency, inhibiting overactive muscles, and pain reduction with just minutes of application
SMR can be done with a variety of tools beyond foam rollers, such as medicine balls, handheld rollers or other assistive devices. Whatever the tool or variation selected, SMR focuses on the neural and fascial systems in the body that can be negatively influenced by poor posture, repetitive motions, or dysfunctional movements. These mechanically stressful actions are recognized as an injury by the body. Adhesions reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and can eventually cause a permanent change in the soft tissue structure, referred to as Davis’s Law. SMR focuses on alleviating these adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal muscle motion and function.
The Benefits of SMR
SMR benefits include:
- Correction of muscle imbalances
- Muscle relaxation
- Improved joint range of motion
- Improved neuromuscular efficiency
- Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery
- Suppression/reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain
- Decreased neuromuscular hypertonicity
- Provide optimal length-tension relationships
- Decrease the overall effects of stress on the human movement system
Guidelines to Start Rolling:
Foam rolling should be done before static or dynamic stretching activities, improving the tissue’s ability to lengthen during stretching activities. Foam rolling can also be done as part of the cool-down. Foam rolling activities should be performed on tissues identified as overactive during the initial exam at Chirofit Chiropractic Chatsworth. Most patients can perform foam rolling on their own once they’ve been instructed on how to properly perform the exercises.
Slowly roll the targeted area until the most tender spot is found. Hold on that spot while relaxing the targeted area and discomfort is reduce, between 30 seconds and 90 seconds. During the exercises it is important to maintain core stability. Take the time to experience the exercises and discover how slightly modifying positions or angles can target different areas of the muscle.
Myofascial Release Therapy (MRT)
Myofascial release can be performed in a couple of different ways either by hand or with instrumental assisted soft tissue tools.
The goal of Myofascial release technique is to restore normal mobility and “glide” between muscular tissue and nerves. It can also help push joint fluid throughout the body and stimulate the lymphatic system, which helps lower inflammation.
The core benefit of MRT is preventing and breaking up dense scar tissue, also called adhesions. Adhesions limit the normal range of motion of joints and muscles because they cause abnormal binding between muscle groups, are very tough and are inflexible compared to healthy tissue.
The reason that ahesions form is to bind injured tissues and keep them stable — however, the adhesions act like a strong “glue” and can often compress or pinch nerves. Nerves sometimes become entrapped by scar tissue, which causes trigger points and pain to develop. The more that scar tissue forms, the more joints or tendons become strained and nerves become compressed.
MRT can address several components related to scar tissue formation:
•acute injuries, including tears or collisions that can happen during exercise or sports
•micro-trauma, which is the gradual wear-down of tissue that’s often caused from aging and inflammation
•hypoxia, which results from tissue not receiving enough nutrients and oxygen
Instrumental Assisted Soft Tissue Therapy (IASTM)
IASTM involves using a range of tools to enable clinicians to efficiently locate and treat individuals diagnosed with soft-tissue dysfunction. Many different materials have been used to make the instruments (i.e. wood, ceramics, plastics, stone and stainless steel).
IASTM introduces controlled microtrauma to affected soft tissue, to which a local inflammatory response is stimulated. This microtrauma initiates reabsorption of inappropriate or excessive scar tissue and facilitates a remodeling of the affected soft-tissue structures. After IASTM treatment, scar tissue can be remodeled so that the cells become organized in a direction that better promotes movement.
All these techniques help to improve flexibility and range of motion in muscle tissue that have become shorten or tight due to knots and adhesions. At Chirofit Chiropractic in Chatsworth we include all of these techniques to treat our patients and we teach patients how to perform some of these techniques at home to improve their flexibility. The next key of human movement we will be discussing is STRENGTH.