How to Program Stretches at Home: Part 2
The whole moto of this approach is “too much of a good thing can be bad.” With each example, in Part 1, the person started to experience a decline in feeling better when performing more reps or more amount of time spent in a specific stretch. Let’s explain why.
How Can More of a Good Thing Be Bad?
Whenever we perform any activity with our bodies it increases strain. This can be both good and bad. If you want bigger biceps, you do more bicep curls. This positively increases strain to your biceps to get result(s). However, if do too many reps too fast you can pull the biceps creating a tear – which is bad.
In some way, it’s all the same, fitness to physical therapy. The goal is to have an objective (get out of pain), figure out the exercise to do this, perform that exercise enough time to get positive results without over-straining the body. If you do too much too fast, then more of a good thing can be bad.
How to Stop Good to Bad?
The best way to stop a good thing from becoming bad is to break up the reps or time in a stretch/position. Looking at the chart below, 50 reps is the peak of improvement in symptoms and 70 reps is when a stretch becomes too much. Instead of doing 50 reps back-to-back, break up the reps into sets of 7-15 reps.
Variable(s) that may affect rep scheme
- Region of the body (ie foot vs shoulder)
- Tissue quality/nutrition
- Blood supply
- Phase of Healing
Each of these variables can affect results. If you have poor nutrition, then the body cannot get rid of the gunk as fast as someone with good nutrition. As a result, you may have longer rest periods to minimize negative symptoms.
Recognizing Negative Symptoms
By doing sets of reps (much like you would at the gym) you can identify when your body is not responding favorably. Sometimes you may experience an increase in symptoms during or after the stretch. If you have more numbness after a set of 10 reps than prior, then this would indicate a worse situation. More common indications of negative symptoms are an increase in dull, achy, or throbbing type symptoms. These three symptoms usually signal an increase in inflammation.
As stated earlier, it’s all about the correct rep-rest relationship. If you break up the sets over a larger period, 10 hours instead of 30 minutes, you decrease chances of having negative effects. You might also be able to perform more total reps by the end of the day than if you performed a lot at one time.
Let’s go through the example in Part 1 (based on this diagram).
Case history: Person with low back pain who feels better after touching their toes.
10 reps every 2 hours = 50 reps
10 reps every 2 minutes = 50 reps
This second example can potentially increase your chances of negative side-effects. The faster rep-rest relationship may increase strain faster. The smarter of the scenarios is allowing for longer rest periods, and then performing more total reps day to day.
Putting in the Effort
Being diligent in the programming is very important. Your body does not care if you have a work meeting, you have grocery or holiday shopping to do. If you want to win, be smart in your programming and commit. Just like in fitness, physical therapy or rehab needs to be relatively structured around your goals. If you’re in pain, check out our The 7 Most Important Things to Know for Self-Treating Movement Pain. To also further you’re understanding in how to help treat yourself at home.