Strengthen or Stretch?

Whether or not you should focus on stretching or strengthening your muscles can be confusing.

When you stretch a muscle you are essentially trying to lengthen it. In effect, one end of the stretched muscle is stabilized while the opposite end is moved to an extended position. Stretching is important because muscles tend to shorten through daily activities leading to muscle imbalance and pain.

Strengthening involves tightening muscle fibers (either by shortening the muscle or by holding it in a static contraction) against some kind of resistance. Muscle strengthening is important because it is essential to providing stability and support to your skeletal system.

In the most basic sense, all you have to remember is:

  • Stretch: Tight Muscles
  • Strengthen: Weak Muscles

 

Upper Cross Syndrome:  Characterized by rounded shoulders with anteriorly tipped shoulder blades, and forward a poking chin.

  • Strengthen Front Neck Musculature: 
    •  Exercise: Isometric contractions with or without therabands

Place your hand so it is applying a force opposite to your head resistance so that even tough tension builds in muscle. No movement in exercise, head should remain static. Repeat forward, backward, left, and right and hold for 8 seconds.

You can do the exercise above with a theraband if you would like to increase tension. No movement in exercise, head should remain static. Repeat forward, backward, left, and right and hold for 8 seconds.

  • Stretch: Back Muscles
    • Exercise: Neck pull stretch

Hold pose for 8 seconds on each side, repeat 3 times a day. 

Lower cross syndrome: Abnormal adapted lower back posture as a result of muscle strength imbalances. People who sit for prolonged periods of time or have poor posture are typically characterized with this condition. 

Symptoms: 

  • Increased curve (lordosis) of the lower back

  • Forward tilt of the pelvis

  • Tight hip flexor muscles (Iliopsoas)

  • Weak abdominals and bottom muscles (Gluteals)

  • Tight hamstrings (posterior thigh muscle)

 

Strengthening Exercises:

 

  • Strengthen Core Rectus Abdominis
    • Exercise: Bicycle Crunch

 

Touch your right elbow to your left knee. Now lift your head up and touch your right elbow to the left knee while pulling your knee up towards your head. At the same time, straighten your right leg, keeping it several inches off of the floor – similar to the motion you’d make while pedaling a bicycle. Repeat on opposite side. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.

Link 

  • Strengthen Gluteal Muscles
    • Exercise: Side-Lying Abduction Exercise

Hold leg 2 cm off the floor and hold pose for 10 seconds. Repeat exercise 10 times on each side, 2 times per day.

  • Strengthen Pelvic Muscles
    • Exercise: Kegels

Contract pelvic muscles and hold for 3 seconds, then release. Repeat 10-15 times per day. 

Stretching Exercises:

  • Stretch Low Back
    • Exercise: Child Pose

Hold pose for 30 seconds, on each side. Repeat 2 times per day.

  • Stretch Lumbar Spinal Extensors
    • Exercise: Seated Lower-Trunk Extensor Stretch

Hold pose for 30 seconds, on each side. Repeat 2 times per day.

  • Stretch Lumbar Spinal Extensors
    • ExerciseSeated Lower-Trunk Extensor Stretch

Hold pose for 15 sec. Repeat 3 times per day.

  • Exercise: Cat- Camel

Hold pose for 15 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times. 

Lower Cross Syndrome

 

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