by Dr. Patricia Rupert.

That’s right, proceed with caution with this type of a stretch. Once an old standby stretch for hamstrings and tight back muscles, its safety has been called into question by recent Canadian research.

This type of stretch has been implicated in causing micro tears to the supporting structural tissues of the back. On the surface a micro tear may not seem so bad, after all it is not a macro tear. But it is those insidious micro tears that we don’t feel, which add up and then emerge with a vengeance, when we do something so benign as reaching down to pick up a pen we may have dropped. Excruciating pain, the back, “goes out”. From there let me tell you, as a chiropractor, it’s all downhill. The patient comes in, “Doc, I don’t know what happened, I just bent over to pick up my pen and I couldn’t straighten up.” Ah, micro tears, this is how they work.

Next time you want to stretch your back, hamstrings or your calf muscles, get off your feet and sit on the floor or another hard surface. Extend your legs in front you and bend your torso toward your feet with arms extended to touch your toes. Do not under any circumstance force this stretch. Hold for a count of 30 and work up to a count of 120. You should feel the pull in the back of the thigh and in the back.

To stretch your calf muscles, remain in the same position and dorsiflex your toes. Hold for 30 seconds and again work up to 120 seconds. You should feel the pull in the back leg muscles below the knee.

As with any stretch, never force a stretch. The muscles will release when they are ready. Remember, to be safe and most productive, a stretch should always be performed with warmed up muscles; therefore,never perform stretches first thing in the morning.