In Stretching 101 we will cover what I feel is the best form of stretching which is known as PIR stretching (Post Isometric Relaxation). While that may sound somewhat complicated, it is actually very simple and yet very effective for muscle spasm/tightness. The technique involves a series of stretching with resistance and relaxation and the idea is to trick the brain into letting the muscle relax.
We’ll break it down like this:
- Begin by stretching the muscle to tension/mild discomfort. You never want to be in pain while stretching and if you are, you are overdoing it.
- Next, start resisting the stretch with the muscle being stretched. This often involves pushing against the stretch. Typically, you want to put about 20% of your power into resisting and nothing more.
- Hold this resistance for 5-10 seconds
- After holding the resistance, immediately relax and discontinue the resistance but stretch the muscle just a little bit further.
- Begin holding resistance for another 5-10 seconds.
- Relax and stretch the muscle even further.
- You continue doing this for up to 1 minute. By the end, you’ll be surprised at how far you are able to stretch.
Overall, this kind of stretching is very effective for muscle spasms/muscle tightness. The reason it is so effective is because of the neurology involved. Essentially, you are tricking the brain into letting the muscle relax. The really cool thing about this technique is that you can do it on any muscle you are able to physically stretch. Always keep in mind not to overstretch, and there should never be pain involved. Also, consider having a partner help you with this stretch and it is even more effective. With that said, as a chiropractor, I think getting adjusted is the most important thing; however, I always find the time to incorporate this stretching on my patients in some capacity because it really can help relieve pain due to muscle spasm.