Monday, January 20, 2014

Flexibility Importance

A few weeks back I had a MRI because of pain and numbness in my butt and leg after a 10K race I ran over Thanksgiving. The MRI results came back pretty much inconclusive.  I have some minor arthritis in my lower back, but my spine is pretty healthy. My brain scans came back with some white spots on the brain -- a little more than the normal person.  This, however, didn't seem to concern the neurologist.  He said to recheck in another year, who knows when those spots showed up and why. 

As for the pain and numbness -- we still don't know the cause.  So, at the end of February I will be poked and prodded again. I get to have a nerve test, an Electromyogram. Basically, the neurologist will be inserting needles into my muscles to check my muscle electrical activity and look for abnormalities. Oh Joy! I can not wait. NOT!!!!

Since I have been experiencing this pain, of course, if you know me well, I have been researching all about it. And I have self-diagnosed myself with having Piriformis Syndrome. Piriformis is a small muscle in the butt that aids in the external rotation of the hip joint and plays a big role in your movements. Piriformis Syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder that occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated by this muscle causing pain, tingling and numbness in the butt and along the sciatic nerve down into the lower thigh and leg. 

Funny thing is, I remember having a very centralized pinpointed pain right where this muscle sits for years. Now the pain has spread outward and downward. So in my research, I found one of the main courses of treatment is loosing up this muscle by stretching. 

Flexibility and loosening up your muscles is very important to maintaining a healthy body. Lack of flexibility is probably one the single most important factors affecting our quality of life as we age.  My goal is to stretch all my muscles at least twice a day.

The Benefits of Stretching:
  • Increase muscle flexibility and improve daily performance.  
  • Increase joint range of motion and  help your mobility and improve balance.
  • Improve circulation which increases blood flow to your muscles. Blood flowing to your muscles brings nourishment and gets rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue. 
  • Frequent stretching keeps your muscles from getting tight which helps maintain your posture.
  • Provide stress relief and relaxes tight, tense muscles that often accompany stress. 
Proper Stretching Tips

Warm up first -- Stretching muscles when they're cold increases your risk of pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently moving your arms for five minutes.

Hold each stretch - It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds, and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscles. 

Don't Bounce -- Bouncing as you stretch can cause micro-tears in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. This tissue tightens the muscle making it even less flexible.

No Pain -- Stretching should be pain free. You've gone too far if you feel pain. Dial it back until you don't feel any pain, then hold the stretch. 

Relax and breathe - Don't hold your breath while you're stretching and stretch both sides to make sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of your body.

Before & After - Light stretching after your warm-up then followed by a more thorough stretching regimen after your workout is the best. 

Right now my biggest goal is stretching out my leg, hip and butt muscles.  Here are some of my favorite stretches to help keep me mobile! Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds on each leg at least twice a day.


These are great stretches when you are working on your computer.  Just take a minute or two to stretch out those leg muscles. Stretching your muscles everyday will help maintain a healthy body. 

If the stretching doesn't work my next step will be a deep tissue massage! 

      Jeep -- It's not Just an Adventure! It's a Good Life.

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