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I'm having a physical problem for about 4 years by now that's really making walking or just standing insufferable (even for a few seconds). I can't do any fitness and it really messes my physical health up (e.g. I even have a hard time going to bed because I'm so far from being exhausted at the end of the day). So I went to a lot of doctors over the years and I've been suggested to strengthen a specific area of my legs by doing stretches.

My issue is that no matter how much time passes which in I'm doing the stretches which my physiotherapist told me to do, I see no improvement whatsoever.
So walking doesn't hurt any less than before, and I can't stretch my legs any more than I could months ago or before I even started.

In order to avoid my question being too localized, I'm simply asking what should you do when you exercise and see no benefit at all and why could that happen.

P.S. Should it matter: some hours after stretching I feel like the area I've been stretching is actually extremely tensed. Is it normal or an indicator I'm doing something wrong?

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This seems like a medical question. You write 'getting stronger' and this implies muscles, but as I understand it you really mean your overall health. Besides the medical part (which you should remove from the question if you don't want the question to be closed as medical advice) I fear that it lacks crucial information about the exercise, your goals and your diet. In the current form it is far too broad, please narrow it down, otherwise answering would be like searching for the needle in the haystack. –  Baarn May 12 '13 at 19:09
    
@Informaficker Well, I don't mean it as a medical question at all. My question is 100% about my leg muscles and I'm trying to understand why they're not developing even one bit. (The result would affect my overall health tho, but that's the only relation to it). –  Ken May 12 '13 at 19:12
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Well I don't know your situation, but stretches don't strengthen anything (not really). Have you considered doing strength training and are you allowed to? Or are you doing any cardio exercises for your legs (x-trainer, cycle, swimming)? –  Baarn May 12 '13 at 19:14
    
@Informaficker Hmm, then I wonder why am I supposed to do those stretches. I'm definitely allowed to do strength training, but I don't know how to. I also don't know what cardio is but I do consider to cycle although I'm not sure if that's the area I'm supposed to be focused on. Thank you for your response! –  Ken May 12 '13 at 19:19
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I'm voting to close this question as it really seems to be related to pain from a medical problem and not fitness related. Ken, because you have a specific condition it is best for you to work with your healthcare practitioners. If the exercises you have been given are not working, check back with your physio. You may not be doing them correctly, or you may need different exercises. Normally your muscles should not feel more tensed after doing stretching exercises. –  BackInShapeBuddy May 12 '13 at 21:59
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closed as off topic by Baarn, BackInShapeBuddy, FredrikD, JohnP, Ivo Flipse May 13 '13 at 21:29

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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you are doing stretches and aren't seeing progress, then there are a few possibilities:

  1. Not stretching long/frequently enough.
  2. Stretching with bad form.
  3. Stretching wrong area.

Let's start with #1. You need to be holding stretches long enough for the body to actually adjust to the change. I would say 30-60 seconds at least.

With #2, there are a whole slew of reasons you may be using bad form. For example, do a glute bridge and feel your hamstrings. If they are super tense and tight, then your glutes are not being properly engaged; if the muscles are loose then you are properly engaging your glutes to hold the position. This is just one example on how you can do a stretch but not properly engage the muscles you are trying to stretch.

For #3, often times we get caught up in trying to stretch the areas where the pain is localized. You need to take a step back, though, and see exactly why that part of the body is in pain or needs stretching. Often times, pain or tightness in one area is a result of one or several imbalances somewhere else in the body. For example, a weak abdominal core can cause poor hip flexion by not providing proper stability, which in turn can causes the hips to get tighter to provide stability lacking from the core, which in turn causes the quads to be more active than hamstrings during exercise, which in turn causes excess stress on the knee. So how do you fix the knee pain? You could stretch the quads, or the hips, but neither of which addresses the root problem -- poor core stability -- so the knee pain will persist.

There is a very interesting article on t-nation about how stretching doesn't work. While I don't agree with the premise, the article does raise a few good solutions which you should take to heart. If nothing else, I would recommend watching the first embedded video in it, as it is very informative.

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I'm pretty sure the first item in the list was my issue. Thank you so much! –  Ken May 14 '13 at 18:39
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