I love being able to come up with analogies to help explain concepts that may be hard to visualize. I recently came up with this one for my dad who is doing some rehab on his knees. He wanted to know why when he worked on his stretching and was able to finally bend his knee further than before, did it immediately go back to the previous amount of bending after the stretch was over. So I used the picture above of my two hairbands to explain to him. Currently his muscles are like the black rubber band. They are at that length and when stretched they like to keep going back to that length, despite being stretched. That doesn’t mean he should stop working on bending his knee because eventually it will become like the yellow rubber band and the muscles will find a new length that they go back to. This takes time and consistency. It takes having a low level stretch for a longer period of time. What I mean by that is, instead of someone pushing his leg so he bends his knee, he lies with his knee bent over something like the edge of the bed, and let gravity work on doing the stretching. It’s also important that he keep actively trying to move and bend his knee to help his muscles get and stay strong in the new amount of bending.
So why am I telling you all of this. This can be applied to so many of our kids. In fact I also discussed this with a mom who’s son is having heel pain from tight calf muscles. The rubber band analogy helped her to understand how stretching could help and that stretching once wasn’t going to make a permanent change.
This also works for our kids who have torticollis. We are going to find lots of opportunities for them to turn their head in the direction that may be a little more challenging for them in addition to the stretches and range of motion.
Same for our kids who may have neuromuscular challenges. You will often hear people talk about night splints or serial casting. This is so that their muscles can spend a lot of time in their full range of motion so that they can start to ‘stretch’ like the yellow rubber band and stay at the new length without always reverting back to the shorter length like the black rubber band.
Hopefully that makes sense, but if not don’t hesitate to reach out and ask your questions!