Most of you have never really stretched before. Sure you have mobilized some. Pulling your leg behind you until you feel a strain in your quads, or kicking your leg up on a bench and leaning into it before a run or warmup for your workout.
I know this because I used to do that. I felt I had deceit range of motion. I could touch the floor, squat with good form and hold a barbell in all the proper positions.
But I was still stiff. I would still have chronic lower back discomfort It would be uncomfortable and sore post workouts.
Over the last 5 years I have really dived into the world of flexibility and stretching. The game changer for me was when I learned… You need to train your flexibility like you would train your strength!
If you really want to gain flexibility you can. If you’ve never touched your toes before you can. If you are tired of being sore in your joints (knees, shoulder, wrists) you can free yourself from that with improved flexibility.
Step 1 is to learn and incorporate the 3 Rules of Stretching.
- Use Strength
- Find Space
- Spread the Load
Believe it or not you are not tight you are weak. You need to strength train your end range. Less range of motion = Less strength in that range of motion. You can develop more strength in your end range if you use the strength you have and apply it to any stretch you do.
- (A Goblet Squat for example) Pulling yourself down into the squat vs. dropping into it
- You need to be active while in a stretch (pushing/pressing; pulling/lifting)
- The more strength you apply to a stretch the more flexibility you will build.
A big reason why you are stiff is fascia has developed around your muscles and joints. Fascia is a fibrous sheet of adhesions that covers all directions around your muscles and joints.
- Prying and moving your body into the position and trying to find more space in the joint.
- Loosening the fascia (the fibrous sheet around your muscles)
An analogy is trying to pull a post from the ground. You try to put it out HARD but it is to rooted into the ground and you fail. No matter how many times you try if it is too rooted into the ground you will not succeed. Until you begin to wiggle it around (in every direction) and loosen it up to create a little gap/space you can begin to pull with some success. Wiggle then Pull. Wiggle then Pull and you have you chance to pull the post out of the ground. That is the similar way you can work on a tight/stiff joint.
Spread the Load
Lastly, when in the end of the stretch think about “spreading the load”. Imagine activating all parts of your muscles within the muscle to create more of a contraction and stimulate the area you are stretching.
Using our example of the goblet squat. As you are pulling yourself down, SPREAD THE LOAD by thinking about spreading the floor apart with your feet. You will active more area’s of the abductors and adductors to maximize more of the hips to ‘stretch’.
Thursday’s Workout Is…
A. Barbell Lunges
B. Every 2:30 for 8 Rounds:
15 / 10 Calorie Row
15 DB Seated Press
15 Toes to Bar/Rings