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Stretching Gone Wrong | T nation

Firm hips? Stretch it out! Shoulder pain? Stretch out these pectoral muscles. Bad ankle mobility? Give your calves a good stretch.

You have heard this advice before. You have been advised by a personal trainer, physiotherapist or Internet "expert" that stretching is the ultimate solution to all your musculoskeletal problems. Over the years, static stretching has been described as a panacea for a variety of pains.

While it may be useful in certain scenarios, there are also many cases where it could actually be harmful – especially if you forget a muscle group and get no relief.

Whether it is a warm-up, cooldown, or mobility exercise, some people are looking for ways to throw tracks into each workout. Many will even need help: ribbons, weights, partners, as you call them, everything to stretch deeper. Sure, they feel relaxed in this position, but it may not produce the effects they actually need.

Does static stretching increase the range of motion?

That's why many lifters stretch. If you have a better squat or you want to move like a gymnast, you will certainly have to stretch, right? The short answer is yes, it helps, but only if you do it consistently.

Static stretching improves movement range (ROM) very effectively. If you stretch your hamstrings for more than 30 seconds, you will stimulate the central nervous system, ultimately allowing you greater latitude. If you do this consistently, your body feels safer in a certain area and the muscles can stretch a little more.

The disadvantage? If you do not stretch regularly, these effects are limited. And expecting someone to stretch 3-5 times a week on a long-term basis is unreasonable. Yes, stretching CAN can help you improve your ROM in the short term, but studies have shown that it does not last.

Researchers tested a 6-week stretching protocol to determine if it would lead to permanent ROM adjustments after a 4-week break. During the first 6 weeks of the stretch protocol, mean knee ROM increased by an average of about 1

0 degrees. Unfortunately, once the participants had stopped stretching, their ROM returned to their baseline values ​​(Willy et al., 2001).

Stretching is effective as such only insofar as somebody does it all the time. It is effective to induce transient changes in the central nervous system to provide greater muscle extensibility. However, it is not the way to go if you want a more sustainable improvement.

A Better Approach

Slow eccentrics (negative)) are preferable to develop long-term changes in range of motion. Interestingly, one study showed that eccentric training of the thighs actually increased the fascicular length of the biceps femoris (Potier et al., 2009)! Effectively, eccentric training changed muscle architecture.

This would probably cause a longer-lasting change than just stimulating the nervous system, which we observe in static strain. Controlled eccentric exercises performed once or twice a week can lead to quite incredible changes in the end area.

Eccentrics also have the added benefit of building up the power in one movement, so static stretching is preferable. For example, I could have someone with tight hamstrings who makes Romanian deadlifts at a pace with a break. Take a look:

This creates an enormous stretching of the thigh muscles under load. Just steer in the orbital phase for 3-6 seconds with a 1-3 second pause at the bottom. A few sentences are enough to keep you sore for days. You will also notice that they are stronger in the end area.

Is stretching beneficial for tightness and pain?

It seems logical to stretch an area that feels tight. Stretching the muscle helps him relax, right? Not necessarily.

Tense muscles can occur in two different scenarios: A muscle can be tense and weak or tense and strong. While these cases seem contradictory, I explain how that happens.

Our body pursues many different compensation strategies. In the first case, for example, you might feel tension in your thighs because you actually have extremely weak thighs (and usually a weak core as well). The thighs are strained to protect the hips.

Here, too, an eccentric thigh workout is the perfect remedy. Barbell good morning would be a great option for building your hamstrings. Strengthening this muscle effectively relaxes the central nervous system, and you feel confident enough to contract that muscle.

A static stretch would certainly not be beneficial when training a weak muscle. While it can provide acute relief, the tension will likely return to its original state within hours.

Conversely, one muscle that is tense and strong can balance another weak area. Consider the latissimus dorsi. Men often have extremely tight lats. It can get so bad that they can not lift their arms over their heads without overstretching their lower backs.

However, many people would think stretching the chest and abdomen is the best way to improve over-the-head movement. that is not true. Lats and pecs usually compensate for underactive lower and middle traps.

If you tell a man with strong lats to simply forget them, you've weakened his only line of defense. If he moves any weight over his head, his body becomes extremely unstable, because he can not properly classify this movement pattern.

A Better Approach

If this sounds like you, strengthen the middle one and lower the traps so the lats can relax a bit. Optimal mechanics and muscle function is just a matter of balance: if one muscle group is too strong, another muscle group must relax and stretch. When you find better muscle balance from front to back, from top to bottom and from left to right, your body feels smooth and healthy in the long run.

Is stretching ideal for everyone?

There are cases in which stretch may be beneficial for a lifter, but there are also cases where stretching may exacerbate the movement disorder or potentially damage the connective tissue.

I like to call mobility and stability a continuum:

  • At one end you have people with extreme mobility. Think of dancers, gymnasts, yogis or contortionists. These people can turn and turn in many different directions, but they lack the motor control and end-of-range power.
  • At the other end, you have individuals with far too much stability. These people (often lifters) are as stiff as the Tin Man and struggling to relax their muscles.

The ideal situation is to be in the middle of the spectrum: enough mobility to perform all the necessary tasks in our daily lives with ease, but enough strength and stability to really control those positions in our range of motion. If you fall too far towards one side of the spectrum, you increase the risk of injury.

Many of the hyper-mobile individuals I train become victims of injuries due to over-stretching or dislocation of the joint: shoulder dislocations, ankle sprains, etc. Over-tense lifters and athletes tend to suffer injuries that can cause excessive strain on a muscle Detect hamstring and biceps tears.

What does all this have to do with stretching? If you're hypermobiled (someone who already has freedom of movement that goes way beyond what's needed) and you continue to stretch, you'll continue to lengthen the already loose tendons and push yourself further into potentially dangerous positions.

Let us consider for example a dancer. A hypermobile dancer pushing overhead may have an overstretched lumbar spine at the top of the exercise. If a coach improved his shoulder mobility or included in his program, his stability over his head would only worsen. In her case, stretching will further affect the integrity of her overprint print pattern.

A Better Approach

For the Hypermobil, stability-oriented movements such as Turkish standing aids, overhead head support or dumbbells can be helpful Control with overhead movements. Here's Dean Graddon, who combines a Turkish make-up with an overhead carry:

It is imperative that hypermobile persons do not stretch, especially in positions where they are already very weak. For these people stretching is usually far more harmful than useful.

The Judgment

I am not a big proponent of stretching because it already has an overemphasis. Of course there is time and place for it! But it is not the panacea that many other people seem to believe. It can even be counterproductive to the customization you want to achieve.

If you have implemented stretching in your routine and it is something that you enjoy, you do not necessarily have to stop it, but it is important to think about why you are doing it and how to avoid possible negative side effects before doing yours Pull limbs in different directions.

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  1. Nelson, R. T. & Bandy, W. D. (2004). Eccentric training and static stretching improve the leg flexion flexibility of men in high schools. Journal of Athletic Training, 39 (3), 254.
  2. T.G. Potier, C.M. Alexander & O. R. Seynnes (2009). Effects of eccentric strength training on the muscle architecture of the biceps femoris and the range of motion of the knee joint. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 105 (6), 939-944.
  3. Willy, R.W., Kyle, B.A., Moore, S.A. & Chleboun, G.S. (2001). Effect of stopping and resuming stretching of the static thigh muscle on the range of motion of the joints. Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 31 (3), 138-144.

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