As you can probably tell, many of my blog posts arise out of various conversations I have with clients, coworkers, and the various people I see everyday. Today is no exception, as one of my clients and I spoke about how it’s easy to spot someone that’s “stiff” and immobile, but is there ever a problem with being too flexible?
The answer? Yes! Being too flexible is actually a problem, and while it may not be as easy to spot, it can lead you down a similar path of pain and dysfunction.
For example, if someone can palm the floor with their hands while standing, I would say that’s actually dysfunctional. Why? Because we’re only supposed to touch our toes, and anything more than that means you’re getting that extra motion at the expense of something else.
Let’s break this down into smaller pieces so that it’s easier to digest. On one end of the spectrum, you have individuals that are so tight and locked up, that bending down to touch their toes is probably a workout in itself. For these tight individuals, stretching is probably needed in some capacity. On the other end, you have the people that would rather be stretching than doing any other physical activity (and yes, I’m betting you know some people that are like that).
Going back to the joint-by-joint theory (which is based on the theory of mobile levers built on stable segments), you can easily see that if someone can palm the floor, they may be displaying great hip mobility….but that may be coming at the expense of what’s supposed to be a “stable” lumbar spine.
You only need so much mobility. After that, it’s like having a signed poster of “Gigli”…you’ll experience diminishing returns.
The same is true with the shoulder. I’ve seen many people that show great shoulder mobility on a given test, but they writhe in pain if you put them in a position where their rotator cuff has to actually go to work. Clearly, they have too much mobility and need to work on controlling it so they can stay pain-free.
Do you like to stretch? Then you probably don’t ever need to. Don’t like to stretch? Well, then you probably should. And, in both cases, you should build some additional stability through picking up heavy things, and then putting them down.