Building a Better Runner Active in physiotherapy and sports medicine for over 28 years, Kevin’s position as senior physiotherapist for the Mount Sinai Sports Medicine Clinic and director for the Olympic High Performance Center at the Fitness Institute has helped guide his practice focusing on injury prevention and enhanced athletic performance.
Please visit Kevin at www.honsbergerphysioplus.com to see how he can help with injury prevention and performance enhancement. Kevin Honsberger BSc.P.T., Physiotherapist
I Stopped Stretching Because They Didn’t Help I hear this all the time! Before we all stop stretching lets figure out why muscles get tight and then figure out how to loosen them up. Muscles get tight for 2 basic reasons. The first and most common and obvious is from excessive athletic activity. It is kind of normal to have tight calves after a hill or speed workout. But it isn’t OK to have tight calves from just sitting at your desk! Every muscle has its own nerve supply. If you mess with that nerve supply some pretty serious things can happen. If you bump into the nerve, every once and awhile, you irritate it and excite it. If you
badly damage the nerve the muscle actually stops working – not good! When you irritate a nerve you actually turn it on and the muscle it controls then tightens – voila – a tight muscle that you think you can fix by stretching. The problem is, in this case, stretching further irritates the nerve making the tight muscle tighter – or worse.
Nerves, for the most part, travel in muscles as a form of protection. When muscles get short they tend to squeeze the nerve while moving which irritates the nerve. It is like getting a headache because someone is pulling your hair. Stop pulling and magically the headache goes away.
Muscles get tight due to poor posture – slouching for example and they can get tight from aggressive workouts. A tough workout can damage and increase tension in the muscles. Movement then irritates the nerve, which also tightens the muscles. So this is a situation where both affect muscle tightness.
Athletes need to know the difference and be trained in how to release a tight nerve with self-massage techniques and also proper stretching techniques. A good healthcare professional who, works with athletes will be able to help
know the difference and how to release the tension. So don’t stop stretching. You need to know why you are tight and correct it. Remember tight muscles will always have a negative effect on your performance.
KEVIN HONSBERGER BSc.P.T., Physiotherapist [email protected]