I usually have patients demonstrate what type of stretching they’re doing at home or in the gym.
More times than not I will have people perform and exercise and tell me “this is the stretch I do.”
So, of course, I say that they are perfo
When we move our bodies we are exercising, it’s basically that simple. There are forms of exercise where you don’t move your body called isometric exercises, but most people don’t perform these. If you are moving your legs around your low back, twisting your upper body, or flapping your arms back and forth you are actively moving those muscles and thus performing an exercise. Now there are some dynamic movements that do stretch some muscles by exercising others but these are very rare exceptions to the rule.
Now we’ll look at a stretch. A stretch is something held stationary. As I stated in my last blog, a stretch must be held for 2-3 minutes because of our stretch reflex which prevents injury and lasts 45-60 seconds. So when you do toe touches, arm swings, or any other active movement your stretch reflex is activated to prevent injury. So of course these movements can not enhance your flexibility.
So here’s a general rule:
Exercises involve moving your body.
Stretches involve holding a certain position.
If you stick to these rules you will be all set when deciding the difference between an exercise and a stretch.
And remember…when there is an injury we must stretch the muscles before we can start to exercise the muscles and rehab properly.
The problem I see all the time is that people are performing exercises, thinking they are stretches, soon after injuring themselves…and of course, they aren’t getting any better.
So sit back, relax, and stretch.
Luke Piretti is a Chiropractic Physician, former personal trainer, and nutrition expert. He helps people live pain and disease-free lives. He asks everyone to “Imagine A Healthier You”