How To Stretch Without Straining

Traditional stretching routines involve forceful pulling or pushing of muscles.

Traditional stretching routines focus on individual muscles rather than on any pattern or group of muscles. This approach to readying muscles for action can cause muscles to become tighter than they were when you started. What works better than traditional, passive stretching? Pandiculation.

A pandiculation is a conscious, deliberate contraction of a muscle, or muscle group, followed by a slow, controlled lengthening of that muscle - followed by complete relaxation. This intentional sensory feedback wakes up the brain (the command center of the muscular system) so that the brain can reset the muscle length and relax the muscle past its previous point of contraction.

You can pandiculate any traditional stretch and make it a "Somatic Stretch." By this I mean an intentional, mindful contraction of the muscles, followed by a slow lengthening of the muscles. When you pay attention to your movement instead of forcing a tight muscle to relax, you will begin the process of reeducating your muscles.

  • You begin to feel which muscles are involved in the movement (back, quadriceps, hamstrings and quadriceps, etc.)
  • You become more conscious of how far you can comfortably lengthen a muscle
  • You begin to feel how much better your muscle control is
  • You begin to learn which muscles, when working together can be involved in your "stretch" in order to more effectively reset muscle length.
  • You begin to learn how to reverse chronic muscle pain (back, neck, shoulders, hips, feet, etc.)

You can pandiculate any traditional "stretch" for greater effectiveness.

Here's a short video example of how to "stretch without stretching." It is of a traditional stretch that worked better when turned into a pandiculation. The young athlete in the video participated in his team's stretching routine. While he had good overall flexibility, his back and hamstrings were tight. This made static stretching a particularly unpleasant experience for him. He enjoyed the following exercise, however:

[wpvideo 3xulFh9I]

Send me your most troublesome traditional stretches (the ones you keep doing because you're told that they're good for you), and I'll be happy to make a short video showing how you can make them into a pandiculation.

Learn how to stretch without stretching for improved awareness, muscle control and injury prevention - and how to move without pain to get the most out of the activities you love to do!

To learn these methods at home for long term pain relief and increased mobility, visit the Essential Somatics® store.