Why I Hate Stretching!!
And What to do Instead
Not exactly a new topic! The arguments about stretching have been going on for as long as I can remember. But for some reason, there still seems to be this obsession with stretching.
Here’s Why I Hate Stretching!
I think the thing I dislike most is that it is so poorly understood. Even by some people who really should know better!
Like many things with the body, people make the ‘logical’ conclusion that 2+2=4 with everything…but that’s just not the case.
Need Range of Motion = Stretching must work!! NO
Others I could mention:
- Strong abs = Good Core Stability….NO
- Pain = Damage…NOT ALWAYS
- Training makes you fitter, so more training is better….NOT ALWAYS
- THERE”S A LOT OF THESE!!
‘Though there’s lots of type of stretching’ I can hear you say. And to that, I would say yes, that’s true, there are, and they are not all equal.
It’s mainly static stretching I am talking about here. But it’s not even that that annoys me the most. It’s the misunderstanding that is most frustrating.
I think if you understand the principles of something, you can apply and static stretching really doesn’t follow any sound principles.
So What Should you do?
Range of Motion (ROM) is clearly important. If we take the example of a time trialist or triathlete who needs to get a good aero position but hip ROM is limiting them, how do we get there?
Your body will respond much better to movement than it ever will to a static stretch. If your brain is telling your body, ‘I don’t want you in this range, we might get hurt’, just battering away with stretches is more likely to make your brain double down and tighten even more.
However, if you use movement to get there, you may have a lot more success.
This is a much better word than stretching. It may sound like being a bit picky, but it’s important.
If you want your body to respond, you have to think of the body as a whole and not just ‘muscle is tight….stretch muscle!’ That’s rubbish! Even if a tissue is tight, it’s still connected to the nervous system…so you better bring that along for the ride, too…it’s quite important.
Mobility, to me, implies that there is movement through a range…that muscle will be actively engaged in the process, and therefore, the nervous system is also involved.
So mobility means taking a joint actively into a range of motion you want to improve and then using movement in that range to help.
It helps to understand ‘planes of motion’. There are 3 planes:
- Sagittal – Forward and back
- Frontal – Side to side
- Transverse – Rotation
So let’s look at what to do with our time trialist with tight hips.
Examples for Hip Mobility
Sagittal plane Hip Flexion Strategy
Hip Extension Strategy
Hip Internal Rotation Strategy
To Summarise, choose movements that challenge ROM, but with the support of the muscles and the nervous system.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: