Strength in Conditioning for Friday, May 8, 2015
Last week’s blog answered the common questions, “How long should I hold a stretch?” and “What type of stretching should I use before and after my workout?” The ten Stretch to Win® principles explain that the most effective stretching consists of movement into and out of a stretch that is synchronized with breathing.
Instead of holding a stretch (statically) for a predetermined amount of time athletes should use their breathing to deepen the active movement into a stretch. Stretching as an active form of movement allows athletes to modify the tempo exhaling/inhaling into and out of a faster stretch or taking 3 full breaths into a slower restorative stretch.
By looking at three more of the ten principles athletes can understand how to enhance their stretching by learning to stretch from ‘Core-to-Extremity.’
Most athletes first target the hamstrings, actually spending more time stretching the hamstrings than any other muscle group. However, hamstring range of motion (as in the straight leg raise or forward bend) is largely determined by the flexibility of the hip joint-capsule and muscles surrounding the hip.
Follow a Logical Anatomical Order
Fifty percent of range of motion is in the joint-capsule itself – if your hips are tight you can achieve better range of motion by first mobilizing the joint-capsule and muscles surrounding the hip. The Core-Four Stretch Matrix consists of the glutes, deep hip-flexor (psoas), lats, and low-back muscle called QL (see here).
Many athletes are familiar with core-to-extremity movement – the push-jerk, for example, consists of hip extension that transfers power out through the core to the arms. Core-to-extremity stretching involves releasing the muscles surrounding the hips and low back so that the legs and arms can movement independently of the hips.
Another example is stretching to improve shoulder flexion. The motion of the arms is dependent on the motion of the scapula. While many athletes first stretch the triceps – taking the arm into shoulder flexion and elbow flexion – the scapula must be mobile to support shoulder flexion. In this case, by first releasing the muscles surrounding the shoulder blade (pec-minor, rhomboid, levator scapula), athletes will have more success improving shoulder flexion for overhead lifts.
Target the Entire Joint
Hip rotation is essential for squats, lunges, and preventing low-back pain. Joint-capsule mobilizations that improve internal and external rotation are essential for allowing full hip flexion (squat depth). Because the gluteal muscles span from the pelvis out to the leg, it is important to first release the glutes before the hamstrings – progressing from bent to straight leg stretches (which wind up more connective tissue).
Use Traction for Maximal Lengthening
Traction decompresses the joint-capsule and can be performed as a stand-alone stretch (see hip traction). However, it is important to apply traction during all stretches. Lengthening into stretches by keeping a long spine and reaching out through the arms and legs creates space in the joints to allow for a fuller range of motion into a stretch.
The third and final blog describing the 10 Stretch-to-Win® principles will examine how using different planes of motion and contractions during a stretch can take your stretching to a whole new level.
– Kevin Kula, “The Flexibility Coach” – Creator of FlexibilityRx™ – www.FlexibilityRx.com
300 Meter Run + 500 Meter Row
1 Lap Walking Rest After Each Round
Build to Tough Double Hang Power Clean
3 Hang Power Cleans + 1 Push Press or Jerk
3-5 Minute Walking Rest
5 Minute AMRAP of Box Ups (Alternating Legs)