Does stretching work? Short answer: no. But it’s better than nothing. If the same muscles need stretching time and time again – constant or increasing problems with Achilles pain, stiff hamstrings, tight hip flexors etc – really this shows that there are other issues that need addressing that are actually driving this stiffness.
I have given stretching my best shot – and without a shadow of a doubt some ways of stretching are more effective than others. A method called Muscle Energy Techniques works well, as does PIR stretching and fascial stretching. Different muscle groups need different approaches too, the hamstrings in particular responding better to long gentle stretching. Yes, it’s complicated. And effective as these techniques are, they still don’t get to the root cause of the problem. Working away at stretching will reduce pain and improve performance a bit. But nothing compares with sorting it all out!
And so we come to the bizarre world of Z-health. It never ceases to amaze me that I can give someone a simple eye drill or a simple mobilisation of the hip and their whole body moves better. They are stronger, their balance improves, they are more flexible in every muscle group, their pain levels go down. All from one drill. And if they do that drill regularly, formerly tight muscles lengthen permanently; Achilles pain is a thing of the past – and, in due course, performance goes through the roof without it hurting afterwards!
To stretch properly requires time, concentration and dedication. Often we have to sit or lie down. And we have to keep stretching for year after year. I have lived this and seen my clients live this. Finally, with Z health, root causes of these tight muscles and/or pain are found and cured. Indeed, this also takes time, much concentration and dedication,with sitting optional, but what we are working on changes during this time, and during this time there is a steady improvement.
I suppose a frequent problem I do run into is disbelief. How can crossing my eyes have such a dramatic effect on my stiff shoulder? It feels completely bonkers and occasionally the result is ignored because it is just too strange. The simplest explanation lies in how the brain is wired – and this is for survival. So anything that improves eye function, for example, reduces the threat to the body, so we relax a bit. The better we can see oncoming danger, the more chance we have of surviving it. And the better we can see dinner, the more likely we are to be able to eat it. And so we are a bit less worried and more relaxed on a primal level. Charles Poliquin, world renown strength coach, has remarked that the best athletes are the most relaxed. The more we relax, the better we perform, from driving our car to zipping about a tennis court. Z health addresses not only the eyes, but also the inner ear balance system as well as the map in the brain of our body, and the clearer that is, the better we move. It helps to address what we are eating too, and as that improves, again we take lovely improving steps forwards. All stretching does is stretch that particular muscle at that particular time – and I repeat, it is most definitely better than not stretching at all! But there is a so much better way now.