Stretching for muscles/skin for people with scleroderma

Module: Exercise

Jane Brandenstein, PT, and Janet Poole, PhD, OTR/L

Why should people with scleroderma stretch?

An interesting fact to consider is that the term “stretch” leads people to think this is something they can make happen, instead of something they have to allow to happen. Rather than forcing a movement, you should go to the maximum range of the movement and then let the stretch occur.

The five Golden Rules of stretching according to Stark (1997) are:

  1. Many stretches will be more effective in a sitting position or while lying on the back rather than in a standing position, where the muscles are working to hold you up.
  2. Find a starting position where you do not have a sensation that the muscle is being stretched.
  3. Move the body part until you have the first awareness that the muscle is being stretched and hold it there until you feel the muscle relax.
  4. Less is best. If your push too hard, the muscle will fight back and tighten, rather than let go and relax.
  5. When stretching the muscle, make sure the tension is steady and constant. Don’t force the stretch; allow it to happen. Pay attention to your body.