The Difference Between Stretching and Being Stretched
If you are interested in improving your mobility by increasing flexibility, it’s worth giving some thought to how you are going to get there. It boils down to what you want and need.
Stretching for improved mobility is active. Since mobility is movement, training to that end must involve movement. On the other hand, being stretched by someone else, or an assisted stretch, is passive, which can be therapeutic and relaxing, and can therefore facilitate better movement, but it will not create change in the actual performance of your muscles.
With flexibility training you must use your own body to develop, and therefore, advance its capacity for more coordinated and complex movements. You can’t learn to move better and more freely if you are not the one activating the movement.
Assisted stretching, on the other hand, is more like a treatment because it’s dependent on another party and requires that you do nothing, like a massage, or acupuncture, or chiropractics. There is a huge difference between laying on a table being moved around and actively pushing your limits to increase flexibility, to in turn improve mobility.
At Lastics, we are in the camp that trains the body because we are interested in results of a physical and athletic nature. No one would ever expect to learn, and therefore gain, any skill of any kind if someone else did the work for them. That’s key.
But also, we do care about relaxation and peace in the body for the important role they play in how we move. Tension locks us up as much as overly contracted muscles do. Either way, tight, tense, stiff and rigid all rob you of better mobility.
So, we stretch! But we think about why and how.
As you can see, though, stretching and being stretched actually sit at opposite ends of the same spectrum; that being active to passive. It’s all about what you are hoping to achieve, taking what your body needs into consideration, and then piecing together the right strategy for you.
For example, since all we do is flexibility, we get a pretty good picture from our clients and students how flexibility training varies from person to person, and from that, form several categories that we think can help you consider your options and then connect them to your goals.
Performance. This is our dancer and athlete population. It's about performance wherein we train people’s bodies to meet the requirements of their respective sport.
Therapeutic. This is for people so wound up with tension in their muscles that it is causing pain. It is hands on, but it is not passive.
Healing and balancing. This is a kind of pre-PT and flexibility PT combined for people injured or preparing for surgery, or for post-surgery recovery. It brings flexibility rehab into the healing process and balances it with strength. Notably, flexibility rehabilitation does not exist.
Mobility. This training is about improving flexibility to increase range of motion.
Hypermobility. This is about training people who are “too loose.” This is a way of stretching to keep the stretch out of the joints combined with stability training.
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