Are you Relatively Flexible?

Relative Flexibility is the tendency of the body to seek the path of least resistance during functional movement.

Relative flexibility can result when one or more segments of the Kinetic Chain (Your muscles, joints and nervous system) are misaligned or not functioning properly and is often the result of Postural Distortion Patterns.

In postural distortion patterns, when a muscle is tight, its opposite muscle reflexively becomes weak (altered reciprocal inhibition). This results in compensation by other muscles (synergistic dominance).

Compensatory muscle recruitment can be identified by observing functional activities such as squatting, pushing, pulling and lifting.

Postural Distortion Patterns and are characterized by:

1.            Muscle imbalances

2.            Poor Posture

3.            Improper movement

4.            Injury

Some common examples of Relative Flexibility that you may be able to identify in yourself include:

  1. During squatting you notice-  Feet turn out, knees move  in, excessive forward lean
  2. During pushing or pulling you notice- low back arching, shoulders elevating, head protruding forward

The consequence of postural distortion and relative flexibility is:  pain, injury and if you are an athlete, suboptimal performance.

The solution:

  1. Identify the imbalanced muscles (over and under active) and joint dysfunction
  2. Inhibit and lengthen the overactive muscles
  3. Activate and strengthen the underactive muscles
  4. Perform functional movement patterns with full available pain free movement in all planes of motion

Self Myofascial Release

One of the simplest ways to lengthen tight muscles is through Self Myofascial Release.

How does it work?

Two basic nerve receptors are located in skeletal muscle tissue.  These receptors are the muscle spindle and the golgi tendon organ. 

Muscle Spindles are located parallel to the muscle fibers.  They record changes in fiber length.  Over stretching or repetitive strain activates spindles and triggers the myotatic stretch reflex. This reflexively shortens muscle tissue, alters the normal length-tension relationship, and often induces pain.

Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO) are located at the musculotendinous junction.  They are sensitive to change in tension. Stimulation of the GTO’s past a certain threshold inhibits the muscle spindle activity and decreases muscular tension.  This phenomenon is referred to as autogenic inhibition and it results in the reduction of soft-tissue tension, thereby decreases pain, restoring normal muscle length-tension relationships, and improving function (or performance if you are an athlete).


  • Correct muscle imbalances
  • ↑ Joint range of motion
  • ↓ Muscle soreness & relieve joint stress
  • ↓ Neuromuscular hypertonicity
  • ↑ Extensibility of musculotendinous junction
  • ↑ Neuromuscular efficiency
  • Maintain normal functional muscular length

Ideally, Self-Myofascial Release should be followed by stretching of the involved muscles.

 References: NASM

Geoff Lecovin, MS, DC, ND, L.Ac., CSCS, CISSN

Dr. Lecovin is a chiropractor, naturopathic physician and acupuncturist. He graduated from Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in 1990, earned a Masters in Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in 1992, and then went on to complete the naturopathic and acupuncture programs at Bastyr University in 1994. He holds additional certifications in exercise from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, National Academy of Sports Medicine and International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Dr. Lecovin specializes in treating musculoskeletal pain and sports injuries by integrating trigger point acupuncture, soft tissue release, joint manipulation, corrective exercise and nutrition. In addition, he combines exercise and nutrition for weight loss, weight gain and performance enhancement.

His clinic, located in Bellevue, WA, offers naturopathic medicine, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage and infrared sauna therapy.

He can be reached at Evergreen Integrative Medicine at (425) 646-4747 and his website address is:

About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin