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Make Sure You Do Stability Exercises After Stretching

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 09 April 2014
Hits: 4350

Stretching is one of those activities most people neglect in their health and fitness programs. To get better results from your stretching program you need to have a plan built around STRETCHING ONLY WHAT NEEDS TO BE STRETCHED! Most rarely take time to do it even though they workout for 60-90 minutes! You need to have a plan of identifying what muscles to stretch as stretching everything will create more problems than it solves! The other thing that is often missed and is arguably more important, is you MUST follow up your mobility work with a stability correction. This short article explains why.


Every time you improve flexibility and mobility new opportunities are created to alter and change movement patterns, and increase strength in weak and lazy muscles. For if there is a tight muscle, there is also an opposite, a weak lazy muscle.

The big mistake people make in rehab is trying to strengthen the weak muscles first. Sure they need to be strengthened, but they can never achieve their potential while they lack range of motion, timing and freedom of movement that can only be restored using flexibility and mobility methods. Tight and dominating muscles, also known as Tonic muscles inhibit weak lazy muscles, known as Phasic muscles from firing. This is called muscle inhibition and is a massive problem to contend with for many rehabilitation programs. 

Often stiffness starts from repetitive bad habits such as gripping, or poor training techniques that lead to poor posture and a faulty compensatory movement being produced over and over to a point where this is the only way the brain knows how to do this movement. This in turn creates shortened range of motion through the joint for the faulty movement is weaker than the optimal movement. No pain may be present but you can noticeably see a restricted amount of movement. However, if you were to force the person into the optimal range, pain would be the instant result as the body would sense it cannot stabilise itself at that position, so a message to stiffen the joint is sent from the brain to protect itself and prevent the deep range being achieved.

"Stiffness is a false result of stability, and the body's attempt at creating its own version of stabilisation."

Now where it gets even more confusing is how you need to correct this. Our instincts would say we need to improve the mobility of the stiff joint so it can move through the full range and this is often the thinking behind many of the current treatments by health professionals. It seems logical right, a joint is stiff so I will loosen it and it will go back to normal. Unfortunately this is very rarely successful if this is all you do. Especially if the person has been dealing with a chronic injury for some time and the stiffness is the only thing holding them together.

There is no way the body is going to release the stiffness until it is shown a better version of stability. But how do you improve stability while the joint is too stiff to move?

Watch the video below for ideas of how I get around this problem.

This is something that is very often missed by most people when trying to correct areas of stiffness. You must appreciate that the body has only known how to move with stiffness. It feels safe and secure moving like this if it has been there for a long time. If you remove this stiffness but do not replace it with a new strategy of stabilizing the joints the body has no choice but to go back to what it knows best. This is why I always follow up any mobility or stretching work with a movement pattern or exercise that reinforces how to move efficiently without the stiff muscle/s.

Make sure you read the detailed article - How to identify mobility restrictions that affect daily movement for more detail on how to put a specific stretching program together.


This is a very short article and I know there is a ton of additional information you may be looking for, but my main point is to emphasize the need to implement stability corrections with your mobility or flexibility work. It is good to improve your ability to move with more freedom, you just need to ensure your body knows how to control and stabilize this new found freedom. If it only knows how to move the old way it will just bring back the stiffness. Your job is to teach the body how to move with more efficiency. You will find the free report below a great resource for achieving this.


About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 16 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specialises in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.


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