As an Osteopath, I am quite fond of giving my patients stretches and exercises to do in order to better manage their back/neck/knee/relevant region of the body.
I sometimes find I have patients returning after an absence of treatment (anywhere between weeks and years) saying that their problem has ‘returned’. Sometimes I get told it just came back, or sometimes it can be because of a trip away or ‘sleeping funny’.
At this time I tend to ask, “have you been doing your stretches?” to which the typical response is I did them for a few weeks and then I forgot. From my patients my own personal experience, I can understand it is difficult to continue doing any form of stretches or exercises on an ongoing basis.
Life gets busy, Routines change, people forget.
My personal belief is to do the best that you can. Now for some people, people more motivated to me who get more relief from their stretching – the best they can is stretching daily. I applaud them and encourage as many people as possible to stretch daily. For me and many other people, its about stretching when you can and using whatever memory aid you can to remind yourself. For some its every time they sit at a computer, or every time they watch TV, or wash the dishes. For me its lying in bed at night, if I move and I feel stiff – I stretch as much as I can manage. Its usually about twice a week.
The other thing I see frequently is that patients sometimes believe if they’ve stopped stretching for a few weeks there is ‘no point’ to starting again and things have gotten tight already. My number one tip about stretching is that
If you know you are going to be stressed, travelling or loading up an injured area – stretch daily for 3 days before and 2-3 days afterwards.
My logic is that this will help relax the muscles so that when you inevitably ‘sleep funny’ or overload your body the nice stretches you’ve been doing to lead up to the trauma will minimise your chances of injury!
Recently I had a trip to Tasmania – slept on a very uncomfortable pillow and bed, and woke up with a pinch in my neck. I truly believe that my stretching before and after this is what caused this pinch to be a minor discomfort and not a big injury. That and keeping fit and healthy which is a topic for another day.
If you don’t know any stretches for your injury, perhaps its time for a treatment to manage your pain better and get some stretches while your at it
Dr. Luke Richter (osteopath)
Good Health Osteopathy
5B 329-347 Diamond Creek Road,