A little review on Stretching

I’m currently working on my kettlebell moves, and I’d like to improve my hip mobility to achieve a perfect windmill and the double KB TGU.
I do my SMR regularly, can get a three (but barely) on the ASLR, and am starting to wonder if more “traditional” flexibilty methods would be what I need to get to that level of hip mobility, where I can bring my leg up 90 degrees while maintaining lordosis. By traditional methods, I mean static holds and some basic contract/relax, which is what another trainer here is recommending to me (she’s a former cheerleader/gymnast, to show you her bias).

First off, I will simply say that cheerleaders, dancers, and gymnasts have some of the worst quality of life in their adult ages as any of the general population folks I see.  That doesn’t mean every one is a goof, but heads of tails, traditional mobilization methods are not very contemporary as I see it.
That being said, go ahead and try it and see what you get. I’m not familiar with anyone who truly hurt himself with just stretching properly.

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One reason I think passive stretching is ill is based on what I have talked before about the potentials of reflexive compensatory flexibility intra-muscularly if you are figuring out how to stretch around adhesions. The best way to figure out if you are in this boat is to have a good manual therapist scan the tissues. You can even try this yourself with a Stick.
If you have legit knots in the hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, quads, really anywhere including the low back and calves, stretching may not get you to where you want to go.  The reason is because you may get longer in healthier regions of the tissue, but make no effect at adhesions or even worsen their tensions.  The “messages” the CNS receive from these adhesions/triggers/fibrotic tissues will likely negate the increased excursion and run the motor plan foul.  It’s not a guarantee that this will happen, but it’s probably also a measure of your tolerance of the movement.
Again, I don’t think the actual stretching will injure you. I think you might be creating an environment that leads to injury down the road. Again the only way to know is by engaging in soft tissue work before hand.
This article was from several months ago, maybe a year, where I put some thoughts together about stretching in general.

Also consider decreased ROM may be capsular. Mobilizing the stiff capsule is a very different and at times specific mobilization. Kaltenborn, Evenglyth, Maitland, and others are names to look for in terms of schools of clinical practice that can range the capsules. Stretching muscle with a stiff capsule may not yield you the answer you expect.

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A positional fault, while typically painful, may be yet another possible restriction that stretching won’t work with stretching. A different kind of manual therapy or taping may be the answer here, like a Mulligan approach, DNS active exercise, or kinesiology taping like Spidertech.

Bottom line is this though because you shouldn’t have to go through a 3-hour evaluation to get some inches on a range of motion.
1. Just don’t keep stretching if you not getting more flexibile. You are probably making it worse.
2. However you get more mobility, always lock it in with a little stability. Come back and get some more mobility, and lock it in with stability.
3. Big lifts should be full and deeply excursioned. Pull-ups to a dead hang and huge grip. Swings and DLs with a huge hamstring stretch on the back end. Lockouts on presses with a stiff packed shoulder. Long strides in sprints.

Get it the right way, of which there are many, lock it in, and then use it aggressively. This process will release the sympathetic tone that is probably what is holding you back.

In terms of the windmill specifically, I’ve found that the popping the hip out becomes so much easier with dry needling, again not stretching in the traditional definition, to the glute medius, glute minimus, and multifidus, has led to giant changes.  But those changes are not designed to last without patterning afterwards.
I just think if something’s stuck, demanding it to unstuck just doesn’t work, and it certainly doesn’t work quickly.  If needles change things so immediately, how can it be a muscle length issue that needs stretching?

It can’t.

Stretching is like kicking the locked door down. Dude, it only works in the movies.

  • November 25, 2011

Leave a Reply 2 comments

chris Reply

Another great one!

Michael Wu Reply

Nice, my question used as a blog post.

Now, to get a Stick.

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