StretchingFilter: what am I doing wrong? I don't feel any "pull" from these stretches, or they happen in the wrong places or feel like real pain.
posted by d. z. wang to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm told a good stretch creates a diffuse pulling feeling, not quite painful but related. I have trouble getting that feeling when stretching some parts of my body, especially my lower body. Not being able to do this apparently normal thing has bothered me for a long time, and I'm reminded of it every time I go to gym or take some kind of fitness test. But the one measure of flexibility in high school is a toe touch, where I did well, so gym teachers tended to tell me not to worry, and just not to stretch if it bothered me.
That's the short version. Next comes a probably tl;dr list of specific stretches and how they feel. There are a lot of them because I've spent a few years looking for ones that work for me, not generally to any success. I usually describe them stretching my right, but rest assured I've tried both sides. I also stretch my upper body, but those stretches actually seem to work so I won't say more.
Standing toe-touch: I stand with my knees straight, bend at the waist, and put my palms flat on the ground. My face is several inches from my shins, but I lack the abdominal muscle to get it closer. I do get an interesting feeling in the backs of my shoulders if I try to press my hands against the floor and use the friction to force my face closer.
Sitting toe-touch: I sit with my legs straight out in front of me, bend over at the waist, and grab the lateral edges of my feet. I immediately have trouble breathing and a few seconds later a tingling/numbing feeling down the back of one or both my legs, like the sort of parathesias you get when a sleeping leg wakes up.
Standing quadriceps stretch: I stand on my left foot, bend my right leg back at the knee until my right foot touch my butt, and hold it there with one or both hands. If I tuck the instep of my right foot into the crook of my right elbow, I feel the beginning of a stretch along my shin, but nothing in my quadriceps. If I contract my hamstrings, as some people have recommended, I feel a matching contraction in my quadriceps. If I arch my back it just hurts my back.
Lying version 1: The standing stretch, except lying on my side. Same results.
Lying version 2: I lay on my back, except while my left leg is straight my right leg is bent at the knee so that my foot is under my butt. I don't feel anything while doing this stretch, but the one night I tried it I also had a very strange sensation in that knee whenever I flexed or extended it. I don't know how to describe it, except that it was disturbing enough I didn't try it with my left knee, or ever again.
Lying piriformis stretch: I cross my right ankle over my left thigh by the knee and roll backward onto my back, using my hands on the left shin by the knee to pull my right leg up to my chest. This doesn't seem to do anything.
Sitting piriformis stretch: I cross my right left over my left, and then lie down prone with my left leg straight behind me and my right leg bent in front and then left so my right foot is by my left hip. If I really bear down I can feel a little pull on the outside of my right hip, but mostly I feel like I'm fighting the tendency to twist to the left.
Sitting, one-legged toe touch: I cross my left ankle over my right thigh just above the knee, to hold my knee flat to the ground. Then I reach forward and grab the sides of my right foot with my hands, bringing my face to my left ankle. I do feel a pull along the back of my thigh, but also in two other places: if I flex my ankle, I feel a sharp, localized pain in the arch of my foot (but if I don't, my right heel presses uncomfortably into the floor); if I twist my body slightly to the left, toward my bent knee, I feel a stretch along the left side of my torso.
Side splits: I spread my legs apart to the sides until my groin is maybe a foot off the floor, at which point I feel pain on the medial sides of my knee. Ten years ago I could get down to the floor, but I guess ten years ago I was ten years younger.
Sitting V: I sit with my legs outstretched and spread apart, and reach alternately for each of my feet and for some point on the floor between them. This doesn't produce any negative effects, but I also can't push myself far enough into it to feel a stretch. Once when I asked someone else to push me down, he was able to put my chest against my leg. It didn't hurt, but against I had trouble breathing.
Butterfly stretch: I put the soles of my feet together and tuck my heels into my groin, and bend over them. If I keep my back straight, there comes a point around 30-45 degrees from the vertical when I just can't pull myself forward any more. It doesn't feel like a stretch, really. It just feels like I've reached some internal stop and my hips won't go any farther. I've also tried this with someone else standing on my knees to keep them flat to the floor, in case that was the problem. Same result.
I don't know what this is for, but we used to do it in gym: I reach over my shoulder with my right hand like I'm scratching my back. If I bring my elbow in medially, I can get it all the way behind my head and touch the top of my lumbar vertebrae; if I push with my left hand, I can actually press my biceps against my trapezius and cause some pain in my shoulder. On the other hand, if I keep my elbow out laterally, maybe 45 degrees from vertical, I seem to catch something in the vicinity of my triceps. But pulling back hard enough to stretch that also causes shoulder pain.
Dynamic stretches: Someone who used to run track showed me a style of stretching where you gently swing through the stretch instead of reaching and holding. I don't particularly care about it because I'd never feel safe doing that anywhere near my limits.