Should we stretch? Does it help or does it cause harm? This is a very popular debate. One that usually ends in “Well… there is no evidence that proves it is good… but everyone does feels better afterwards.” or “It is a waste of time that can only lead to loss of strength.”
When we think about stretching we tend to think only about the muscles and static holds. These narrow views are what gives stretching a bad reputation and where all of the misunderstandings occur. We should be stretching the whole body, which is primarily made of fascia, in line with the way it was designed to move, dynamically.
For example let’s look at the knee. Usually when there is an knee issue most look to stretching the Quadriceps or Hamstrings muscles. When the IT Band comes to the knee joint it binds into a large network of connective tissue or Fascia. This fascial network comes across the front of the knee depending on the direction of force and it connects down into the shins. The IT Band fascially connects into the Peronals & Tibialis Anterior. The knee cap is embedded in fascia. When we have Knee injuries such as patella tracking, meniscus tears, ACL we often focus our view on the Hamstrings and Quadriceps addressing only half the possibilities of causation. Perhaps the fasica is inflamed. A common complaints of knee pain is a sweeping type of pain across the knee and under the knee cap. For it to be sweeping across it must be the fibrous attachments across the knee. This is not the type of pain a Quadricep or Hamstring would be causing.
So by opening up our point of view to encompass all of tissues involved, while recognizing the patterns in which it is connected and functions leads to a productive pain reducing, fascial lengthening, muscle educating and recovering stretching session.