Most of us have sore spots in our bodies that we have the urge to either stretch, take a yoga class, or go get a massage to release out some of the tightness and tension. But what if I were to tell you that maybe the muscle actually doesn’t need to be stretched but to be strengthened? Sounds like a far “stretch”, doesn’t it?
Many of us have some type of muscular imbalance where we may be continuing to strengthen muscles that are already too strong (tonic) and stretching or massaging muscles that are in some cases already weak (phasic). An example of this would be our core. This may not be you, since I am sure many of you know the core consists of much more than just your “six pack.” But for those who don’t know, our rectus abdominus, our “six pack” muscles can be a very over worked and hypertonic muscle. So someone may think they are super strong in this area of their body, but when asked to hold plank pose for a minute or longer, their bodies will not be able to hold this pose. Vital to this pose are the other core muscles: transverse abdominus, internal and external obliques, as well as the spinal erectors in the back. If those are not developed, you will see concave lower backs, sinking hips and an inability to hold this pose.
Another example would be an achy lower back. If you are hypermobile in your lower back, but still feel pain there, stretching it some more will not do the trick. Stabilizing the muscles in the lower back and doing more strengthening exercises will actually provide more relief than continuing to overstretch a muscle that does not want to be stretched any more.
To test this out for yourself, try Walk the Plank, a YTU pose, which will effectively strengthen the core and not just the six pack abs. For the upper and lower back, Shalabhasana Minivini (below and on the 10 Minute Quick Fix for Upper Back) are a great toner for the erectors in the lower back and will help to strengthen the muscles that may be overstretched.
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