Stretching: Are you Creating Mobility or Creating Instability?

How flexible are you??

Are you stretching the muscles you want? Or promoting mobility in areas that increase improper movement mechanics??

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

These pictures look like I am stretching my hamstrings correct?? I look more flexible in my hamstrings on the left picture than on the right picture????? ......WRONG. The flexibility in the left picture is coming from my LUMBAR SPINE, which is not made to be a mobile joint. The lumbar spine is made to be stable.

I see this ALL OF THE TIME......When the body is “tight” in certain muscle groups, these muscles pull on the bones and cause unnecessary and unconscious torque in the surrounding joints and musculature. This promotes improper core activation which can cause joint instability and lead to an unstable joint or even a bulged disc overtime.

It is so important to PAY ATTENTION to where your joints are during your stretches......I feel the stretch so much more in my hamstrings when I keep my pelvis and spine neutral (Right picture).... because I am actually stretching my HAMSTRING vs my lower back..... So if you have tight hamstrings you will actually feel the stretch waaaay more if you perform the stretch like I am in the RIGHT picture........If you are trying to increase your range of motion in your hamstrings yet you keep stretching like the LEFT picture you will not change your hamstring length, but you could be promoting unnecessary torque in the lumbar spine and knees.

So what is the point ?! You are just going to waste time stretching an area that you do not need to stretch...... Think about it......if there is breathing room around the discs in your spine, if you go to lift something heavy the joint will not be STABLE and that is when injuries occur......You want to recover CORRECTLY, train CORRECTLY, so you can live a HEALTHY life...... Pay attention to what you do and how you is so important to your joint health and your overall health in general...... That is why form is SO IMPORTANT..... Learn something today that can better your health, better your movement, and keep your joints healthy and pain free 💪🏼😜

Dr. Jena Gatses PT, LMT, SFMA, CSCS

CEO of Scientific Fitness

Meet the Author:


Owner and Operator of Scientific Fitness LLC since 2012 with over 15 years of experience in the health and fitness industry: Strength Coach, Athlete, Physical Therapist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Model, Author, Program/Facility & Product Design Consultant to a Wide Range of Clientele: Celebrities, Professional Athletes, Elite CEO’s, Elderly, Youth Population, Olympic Athletes, MLB, UFC, Professional Boxing, Professional Olympic Weightlifting, Track & Field, NFL, Marathon/Ironman Athletes, Rugby, etc.

As well as the General Population Dealing with Geriatrics, Neurological & Degenerative Brain Disease, Pediatrics & Cardiac ICU, Youth Sports & Performance, Skilled Nursing, Burn & Trauma ICU, and more!

Dr. Jena strives to spread knowledge and make people better by helping them realize and use their full potential through awareness and education. She feels we should make our health a PRIORITY!


Using Yoga to Build a Stable Spine and Core 💪🏼😜🙌🏼

© Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy

© Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy

 Benefits of Vrschikasana Pose:

  • Create stability and strength in the spine, shoulders and core

  • Increase muscle recruitment during other workouts

  • Reduce stress and decrease depression

  • Reduce injury

Where to start: 

When working on yoga poses and stability remember that LESS IS MORE! Start out with the basics.  Most of my clients jump into exercises that are extreme and too hard for them.  This puts people at risk for injury which eventually turns into failure and resentment.  

START SLOW and master each position before moving on. Practice moves that will engage your core and prepare you for the next progression.  Start working on holding yourself above  gravity with a plank.  Push your elbows away from the floor and engage your core:

Once you master the plank you can start to lift one leg off the floor at a time and hold that position.  Next, try raising your leg as high as you can and hold:

Progress by using your elbows and head as your base and using a wall to help you balance.  Kick your feet up onto the wall and try to get into the position and hold it. If you cannot hold the position with your feet off of the wall, keep your feet on the wall and lift one leg off of the wall at a time and hold that position.   While in the pose hold, work on your form.  

Remember to keep your entire body ACTIVE. Focus on what EVERY part of your body is doing, and try to flex as many muscles as you can. DO NOT just hang on your ligaments aka letting your body sag in the position. Engage your core, glutes, and legs to help you balance correctly. Perform these holds for 4-6 sets of a 20 second hold and work up to 4 sets of a 1 minute hold, 2 minute hold, and so on. Once you are stable while holding the position try slowly moving your legs around to shift your weight to challenge your core in several directions while trying to maintain the position.    

Once your body becomes stable with a three point base, use your serratus anterior (with a protraction movement) and shoulder musculature to push your body away from the ground as much as possible to help lift your head off of the ground. Work to hold this position again using 4-6 sets of a 20 second hold, progressing as necessary.  

© Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy

© Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy

If you look at the picture above you can see how important the abdominal/core muscles are when performing this exercise.  The rectus abdominus attaches from the bottom of the sternum to the bottom of the anterior portion of the pelvis.  If you are not contracting this muscles most of the force will go into your spine so make sure your core is ACTIVE.  

How do you know if it is active? Imagine someone coming up to you and poking you in the stomach while you are holding this pose.  You want them to feel your abdominals FLEXED.  If they are not flexed, the person's hand will sink into your stomach.  If you cannot keep your core tight, REGRESS the exercise and work on the regression until you master it.  REMEMBER: quality over quantity.  It is safer and more beneficial to perform quality repetitions vs more intense progressions with sloppy form.

Quality form will:

  • Increase muscle fiber recruitment

  • Reduce forces going into the joint vs muscle

  • Help to progress you to the next level FASTER

  • Reduce risk for injury

  • Reduce pressure and forces into your bases (shoulders, head/neck)

Get out of your comfort zone ;) Try new things and CHALLENGE your body. Movement is the key to HEALTH.  


Dr. Jena Gatses PT, LMT, SFMA, CSCS

CEO of Scientific Fitness