Static Stretching

Posted In: The Classics

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        dark-knight on #30515

        Interesting info…It seems that static stretching purpose can be debatable.

        I'm not going to pretend to understand the science behind why static stretching works. However, the evidence that I have with static stretching is empirical. More specifically, my personal success with static stretching and the observation of static stretching with many elite programs.

        Nevertheless, the info is still interesting…. Thanks!

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        Derrick Brito on #30516

        so mike, how much do you vote for stretching? it seems like you give it more drawbacks than advantages, so what is your stance on it?

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #9518

        Something seems to have happened to the original version of this thread that rendered it inaccessible so Iâ??ve deleted the original but will restart the thread since it seemed to be a good one.

        The original thread was started by JohnWiggler who asked if stretching was as important as many make it out to be. To this, several people highlighted some of the benefits and I countered with some of the drawbacks.

        The benefits mentioned were:
        *Increased range of motion and thus increased stride length
        *Increased recovery

        The drawbacks I mentioned were:
        *Decreased power output
        *Decreased maximal strength
        *Altered sensitivity of muscle proprioceptors
        *Increased possibility of joint laxity
        *Increased possibility of tendon and ligament creep
        *Possible increased likelihood of injury
        *Possible occurrence of muscle soreness
        *Possible occurrence of muscle damage

        The following is some of the original thread that I had copied and pasted to a Word document in hopes of responding to the post while away from internet access:

        [i]Originally posted by Dark Knight[/i]
        [quote][i]Originally posted by QUIKAZHELL[/i]
        Mike,
        while i agree with what you are saying as research has shown, i still feel static stretching post workout is very important and since it aids in recvoery there are no negative aspects such as the ones you mentioned (during post workout).

        Iâ??ll take a stab at this:

        Static stretch post exercise to aid recovery and to get muscle back to resting length is a good idea.  I do believe there is a minimum flexibility that all athletes must maintain.[/quote]
        Here is my response��

        I agree that static stretching post workout and even in some instances post warm-up may be beneficial for reasons ranging from physiological to psychological. I also agree that there is a minimum level of flexibility needed for athletic success but I think that MOST athletes already have the necessary level of static flexibility while quite a few lack this level of dynamic flexibility.

        Before I go further though, I have a couple things which need to be cleared up. First of all, increased range of motion through flexibility training is not necessarily the sole result of a lengthened muscle. In fact, increased range of motion can actually be achieved when a muscle is SHORTENED. How is this possible youâ??re probably asking yourselfâ?¦..itâ??s possible due to the fact that range of motion is affected not only by the contractile components of a muscle (muscle belly itself) but also by the elastic components (tendon, muscle membranes, etc.). As such, increased range of motion could and often is achieved when the contractile component of a muscle is shortening or remaining the same length and the elastic components are lengthening (possibly to a greater degree than the contractile components are shortening).

        The second thing that needs to be cleared up is that as far as I know there is no evidence indicating that stretching assists in recovery. This is in spite of the fact that this belief has been widely popularized by both coaches and clinicians. On the contrary, I am aware of several research studies indicating that stretching has NO effect on recovery. And while I am not going to ignore the anecdotal evidence indicating that stretching can enhance recovery, I do look at it skeptically. Recall that not too long there was plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting the notion that stretching immediately prior to an event could improve performance. This anecdotal evidence has since been proven to be at best only conditionally correct and at worst outright wrong. It is likely that the same may be true for the stretching-recovery theory.

        The third thing that Iâ??d like to address is that no one has any accurate idea what â??normal resting lengthâ? actually is. This is because muscle length is dependent on such things as body temperature, time of the day, performance of prior activities, state of arous
        al, etc. As such, there is no true or accurate standard mark indicating â??normal resting lengthâ? because there are so many variables which affect the length of the muscle that its â??normal lengthâ? can never be attained.

        In light of these points static stretching is often not doing what most people think it is doing. By stretching a muscle we are not necessarily “returning it to normal resting length.â? In fact in many cases if the person does not know how to adequately relax the muscle while they are attempting to elongate it, they may in fact induce muscle shortening due to activation of the muscle spindles. Also, as Todd hinted at (in the original version of this thread), even when static stretching is most effective, it should perhaps best be thought of as neuromuscular (relaxation) training rather than muscle elongation training. This is because while it is very well possible to stretch the contractile component of the muscle-tendon unit, it often requires special techniques and experience at learning to relax the muscle.

        Finally, Iâ??d like to go back to the stretching-recovery theory. The common thought behind the stretching for recovery theory is that it can â??open upâ? nutrient and waste pathways to allow for better transport of these materials and facilitate quicker recovery. While this sounds great in theory, I’ve never actually seen anything outside of the realm of Flex magazine that indicates that this actually happens. If someone knows of evidence that I’m overlooking please let me know. One possible reason for this lack of supporting evidence may be because of the above mentioned muscle-tendon relationship. That is, the increased range of motion commonly associated with muscle lengthening (and “opened upâ? nutrient and waste pathways) may actually not be fully representative of muscle elongation. It may in fact be partly due to elongation of the elastic components. Elongated elastic components would not be expected to directly contribute or influence the transport of nutrient and waste byproducts to and from the muscle.

        Please note that I do use static stretching in my programs and do feel that it has a role in a balanced program. I just feel that many of the reasons given and methods of implementing stretching into programs is often for unproven or altogether wrong.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #30517

        [i]Originally posted by cockysprinter[/i]
        so mike, how much do you vote for stretching? it seems like you give it more drawbacks than advantages, so what is your stance on it?

        I think it has it’s place but in my opinion it’s typically overdone in most programs. I do some form of flexibility training every day. The volume, type, and intensity of the stretching that I prescribe depends on the phase of training. For example, in the fall, I prescribe some form of either static or PNF stretching almost every day. This is sometimes complimented by dynamic stretching. As the season progresses, I flip-flop these types of stretching.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Carl Valle
        Participant
        Carl Valle on #30518

        can you give me an example of a good program tha over does stretching?

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        wizzard on #30519

        [i]Originally posted by Phoenix[/i]
        can you give me an example of a good program tha over does stretching?

        or a good program that does not over do stretching..

        can you also explain the differences (if any) between ‘static’ and ‘PNF’ stretching..for those of us that don’t know.. 😛

        regards..

        Wizzard

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #30520

        [i]Originally posted by Phoenix[/i]
        can you give me an example of a good program tha over does stretching?

        Carl-
        I never said anything about GOOD programs….I said “MOST” programs….and we all know most programs are not good. Having said that, I do think there are probably quite a few good programs which overdo stretching (in my opinion). Stretching is only one component of a training program and I don’t think it’s enough to turn a good program bad but I do think that it’s an essential component whose placement, volume, and intensity within the session, micro, meso, or macrocycle should be monitored for optimum benefits.

        Wiz-
        Static stretching is flexibility work which involves holding a stretch for 10-30 seconds. PNF stretching is flexibility work which involves using the neuromuscular system to facilitate a desired response within a muscle. This form of stretching usually requires a partner and research has indicated that it produces the greatest increases in flexibility of all of the types of flexibility training. It can also be used as strength or rehabilitative work.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Jay Turner on #30521

        Ok first of all, mike in the first post you mention that one of the drawbacks to static stratching is decreased power output and decreased maximal strength. Do you mean there is a decrease in these things on a daily basis, or an OVERALL decrease?

        Secondly, in the first thread about this, I mentioned how I incorporate static stretching. Basically, I do exactly as you do mike. In the fall, it’s mostly static stretching that’s complimented by dynamic stretching. Then once the season starts, I flip-flop the two. In fact, once the season starts, I hardly static stretch at all. I start our session with our dynamic warmup, then the actual workout (maybe short hurdle flexibility mini-session), then we warmdown, then weights. We rarely static stretch afterwards. What do you think about this?

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        wizzard on #30522

        so would an example of PNF stretching be where you are pushing and your ‘partner’ is providing equal resistance??

        thanks in advance..

        Wizzard

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #30523

        Wiz-
        If I’m understanding you correctly, yes, that would be a form of PNF…where your partner takes you to a static limit and holds for 5-15 seconds, then you push against the partner by contracting the muscle being stretched for 5-15 seconds, and then relax and hold the stretch (which should be further than the first) for 5-15 seconds.

        DaGov-
        That sounds similar to how I set up my flexibility routines.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Jay Turner on #30524

        [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
        Wiz-
        If I’m understanding you correctly, yes, that would be a form of PNF…where your partner takes you to a static limit and holds for 5-15 seconds, then you push against the partner by contracting the muscle being stretched for 5-15 seconds, and then relax and hold the stretch (which should be further than the first) for 5-15 seconds.

        DaGov-
        That sounds similar to how I set up my flexibility routines.

        Thanks mike,

        Now what about the post you made about decreased power and decreased maximal strength? What exactly did you mean by that? Scroll up to my last post to see the entire question.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #30525

        Static stretching will almost certainly result in a short term decrease in maximum strength and power output. The decrement will be dependent on the intensity and durations of the stretch as well as the duration of time between the conclusion of stretching and the power or strength activity.

        As for long term effects, things get much cloudier. I would imagine that huge increases in flexibility would likely have a negative effect on attempts to increase strength and power. I say this because of how contraction of muscles works and how the contractile components of a muscle can only transmit as much force as the tendons will allow them. This however is said under the assumption that an athlete does not have prior flexibility deficiencies that need addressing. In this type of scenario, large increases in flexibility may very well be necessary. Besides this surface viewpoint, I also look at it in another way. That is, if an athlete is doing heavy and intense stretching routines every day to the point where it is having a short term effect on the power output of the session; training at an acutely decreased power and force output day after day would surely result in a decreased training effect over time.

        I’d be interested to hear others thoughts on the long term effects of stretching on strength and power outputs.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Jay Turner on #30526

        [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
        Static stretching will almost certainly result in a short term decrease in maximum strength and power output. The decrement will be dependent on the intensity and durations of the stretch as well as the duration of time between the conclusion of stretching and the power or strength activity.

        As for long term effects, things get much cloudier. I would imagine that huge increases in flexibility would likely have a negative effect on attempts to increase strength and power. I say this because of how contraction of muscles works and how the contractile components of a muscle can only transmit as much force as the tendons will allow them. This however is said under the assumption that an athlete does not have prior flexibility deficiencies that need addressing. In this type of scenario, large increases in flexibility may very well be necessary. Besides this surface viewpoint, I also look at it in another way. That is, if an athlete is doing heavy and intense stretching routines every day to the point where it is having a short term effect on the power output of the session; training at an acutely decreased power and force output day after day would surely result in a decreased training effect over time.

        I’d be interested to hear others thoughts on the long term effects of stretching on strength and power outputs.

        When you say short term, what exactly is meant by that? Meaning, what kind of time period is “short term”?

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #30527

        [i]Originally posted by DaGovernor[/i]
        When you say short term, what exactly is meant by that? Meaning, what kind of time period is “short term”?

        I think the answer you were looking for was within your own post….

        [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
        The decrement will be dependent on the intensity and durations of the stretch as well as the duration of time between the conclusion of stretching and the power or strength activity.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Jay Turner on #30528

        Ok, well I have them hold each stretch for 60 seconds each. They do each stretch 3 times. Thoughts?

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #30529

        In the following study (to be published in MSSE) we used a very similar stretching protocol to what you are using (4 x 1 minute holds) for 3 stretches and saw serious performance decrements.

        ACUTE EFFECTS OF PASSIVE MUSCLE STRETCHING ON SPRINT PERFORMANCE

        A.G. Nelson, N. Driscoll, D. Landin, B. Marcello, M. Young, & I. Schexnayder

        Louisiana State University, Dept of Kinesiology, Baton Rouge, LA

        Previous research has shown that passive muscle stretching can diminish the peak force output of subsequent maximal isometric and concentric contractions. The purpose of the present study was to establish whether the deleterious effects of passive stretching seen in laboratory settings would be manifest in an actual performance setting. Sixteen members (11 males, 5 females) of a Division I NCAA track team performed electronically timed 20m sprints with and without prior stretching of the hip and knee muscles. The sprint testing was done as part of each athlete’s Monday work-out program. Four different stretch protocols were used with each protocol done on a different day. Hence, the testing occurred over four weeks. The four stretching protocols were no-stretch of either leg (NS), both legs stretched (BS), forward leg in the starting position stretched (FS), rear leg in the starting position stretched (RS). Three stretching exercises (hamstring stretch, quadriceps stretch, calf stretch) were used for BS, FS, and RS. Each stretching exercise was done four times, and each time the stretch was maintained for 30 s. BS, FS, and RS all induced a significant (p<0.05) increase (~0.04 s) in the 20m time. Thus, it appears that pre-event stretching might negatively impact the performance of high power skills.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Jay Turner on #30530

        [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
        In the following study (to be published in MSSE) we used a very similar stretching protocol to what you are using (4 x 1 minute holds) for 3 stretches and saw serious performance decrements.
        [quote]
        ACUTE EFFECTS OF PASSIVE MUSCLE STRETCHING ON SPRINT PERFORMANCE

        A.G. Nelson, N. Driscoll, D. Landin, B. Marcello, M. Young, & I. Schexnayder

        Louisiana State University, Dept of Kinesiology, Baton Rouge, LA

        Previous research has shown that passive muscle stretching can diminish the peak force output of subsequent maximal isometric and concentric contractions. The purpose of the present study was to establish whether the deleterious effects of passive stretching seen in laboratory settings would be manifest in an actual performance setting. Sixteen members (11 males, 5 females) of a Division I NCAA track team performed electronically timed 20m sprints with and without prior stretching of the hip and knee muscles. The sprint testing was done as part of each athlete’s Monday work-out program. Four different stretch protocols were used with each protocol done on a different day. Hence, the testing occurred over four weeks. The four stretching protocols were no-stretch of either leg (NS), both legs stretched (BS), forward leg in the starting position stretched (FS), rear leg in the starting position stretched (RS). Three stretching exercises (hamstring stretch, quadriceps stretch, calf stretch) were used for BS, FS, and RS. Each stretching exercise was done four times, and each time the stretch was maintained for 30 s. BS, FS, and RS all induced a significant (p<0.05) increase (~0.04 s) in the 20m time. Thus, it appears that pre-event stretching might negatively impact the performance of high power skills.

        [/quote]Yeah, but this talks about PRE-event/workout stretching. I do mine POST-workout. Does this make a difference?

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #30531

        [i]Originally posted by DaGovernor[/i]Yeah, but this talks about PRE-event/workout stretching. I do mine POST-workout. Does this make a difference?

        I think it makes a big difference. If done at the conclusion of the workout it obviously won’t have an effect on the power or force outputs in the session. In this scenario you wouldn’t need to worry about the point I made in my second to last post. The question however is whether the post-workout stretching would have an effect on power or force outputs over time. I don’t think anyone really has an answer to this question yet but I’d imagine that the only way this could be the case is if the repeated daily stretching causes permanent tendon elongation.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Derrick Brito on #30532

        so post workout stretching most likely wont cause a diminished training effect?

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        Jay Turner on #30533

        [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
        [quote][i]Originally posted by DaGovernor[/i]Yeah, but this talks about PRE-event/workout stretching. I do mine POST-workout. Does this make a difference?

        I think it makes a big difference. If done at the conclusion of the workout it obviously won’t have an effect on the power or force outputs in the session. In this scenario you wouldn’t need to worry about the point I made in my second to last post. The question however is whether the post-workout stretching would have an effect on power or force outputs over time. I don’t think anyone really has an answer to this question yet but I’d imagine that the only way this could be the case is if the repeated daily stretching causes permanent tendon elongation. [/quote]This is what I was thinking. But how do I know if it causes this before it’s too late? Can I know? Or is this something I just have to take my chances on?

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #30534

        There is no empirical evidence to really definitively say on this matter but I don’t suspect it would be a major problem even if it is an issue. Still interested to hear others opinions….

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        alex on #30535

        This might just be a personal thing, but I find when I static stretch a lot, and really get nice and loose, it seems much easier to relax while sprinting. I feel like I’m bouncing off the track with no effort, whereas when I’m tight every step feels like a struggle. Thoughts???

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        Todd Lane on #30536

        Always a favorite topic of mine.. having finally started a research project looking into this, somewhat similar to what Mike’s group did, duration of protocols kept less….

        Here’s what we are doing….
        4 non consecutive days….
        Warm up of
        1) 400 jog + (100 walk + 100 @ 60% RPE) x 2
        2) 2 x 30m of skipping, side shuffle, carioca, bkwd cycle
        3) 2 x 40 @ 80% RPE of max
        4) Spike up
        5) 2 x 30 of A March, A Skip, A Run
        6) 1 x 40 @ 90%
        7) 3′ stand
        8) 1 x 45m to max effort
        9) 3′ stand/walk
        10) 1 of 4 protocols

          [*]Control- Stand 4′
          [*]Static- 1 x 20″ each leg of ham, quad, calf, hip flex
          [*]PNF- 1 x 10″ static; 1 x 5″ iso; 1 x 10″ static of ham, quad, calf
          [*]Dynamic- 1 x 20- squat, leg swings, eagles, calf raise
          [/list=1]

          11) 1′
          12) 1 x 45 m to max effort

          45 meter efforts are filmed from 30-40meters-
          pre/post done on –velocity, step length, step frequency
          anova for groups, (p <0.05) also for sign.

          step length and freq analysis b/c i’d like to be able to draw elastic conclusions, although it may be a loosely drawn one.

          My personal thoughts on other parts of the discussions…

          Intensity and duration play a big part in decrements. How much I think is still unknown, because intensity and duration are very different animals to different people.
          When I watch track athletes with gymnastic/cheerleading backgrounds, they spend what seems like are hours performing stretch routines before they are ready to roll. The athlete with the basketball background is ready to roll after looking at their toes. 3 x 60″ seems like an awful lot of stretching for one person, 1 x 20″ may be a lot to someone else.

          but the even bigger question which I hope to explore later is, if stretch is performed and then many dynamic activities (acc buildups, hurdle mobility, sprint drills); is all returned to normal- is there a resetting of the neural properties? don’t know. I would guess that most track practices that have stretch routines, follow stretch with sprint drill activities and such. So the way research projects are set up are not always indicative as to what we actually do at practice.

          Long term- Again just my own point of view, but when I look at athletes with high degree of flexibility (maybe even hyper), I don’t see much power- i.e. ballet. I’m a boologist and accept that elastic and reflexic responses are essential to achieve optimal power outputs. Long term gains that intefer with these responses ability to perform optimally
          are a problem. So back to my example of a ballerina.
          My understanding is that one of possible reasons for long term improvement is in neural inhibition. I read and transfer this to mean, where does neural inhibition fall on the continium of what is optimal to still achieve the reflexive responses that help produce performance.

          here’s one other question-
          can improvements in strength, cause positive effects on stretch (without stretch intervention at same time)?

          I have my own personal opinion, but would like to hear what others have to say first.

        • Mike Young
          Keymaster
          Mike Young on #30537

          Nice post Todd but can you clarify this:

          here’s one other question-
          can improvements in strength, cause positive effects on stretch (without stretch intervention at same time)?

          ELITETRACK Founder

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          lorien on #30538

          In competition and when peaking for a major meet, the tone in your muscles should be such, that there is no need for excessive stretching (you should feel â??rightâ? at the beginning of warm up), therefore a minimum of dynamic stretching should be enough. Now, this level of performance cannot be carried through the year, therefore more stretching must be involved during training. The goal is to stretch just enough to maximize SAFE power output for a given high intensity day. Obviously it also depends on the athleteâ??s general flexibility and day to day feel. The â??bufferâ? for this â??minimalistâ? approach is created during low intensity days as well as earlier in the training season compared to periods closer to competition.

          The negative effects of stretching is not of major concern when intensities in the gym or track is around 70-75% but becomes a bigger problem for power output in the range of 95-100%. Intensities at 95-100% is however more dangerous, thus the need for a â??bufferâ? created earlier.

          On the other hand, despite where in the training year you are, if you feel stiff; you should stretch. If you feel stiff during warmup before the most important competition in the season … you’re pretty much f****d!

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          Jay Turner on #30539

          [i]Originally posted by todd[/i]
          here’s one other question-
          can improvements in strength, cause positive effects on stretch (without stretch intervention at same time)?

          I have my own personal opinion, but would like to hear what others have to say first.

          In my opinion, I feel improvements in strength CAN in fact cause positive effects on stretch. I say this because isn’t it true that the stronger a muscle gets, the greater amount of elasticity develops? Thoughts?

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          Jay Turner on #30540

          [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
          Nice post Todd but can you clarify this:
          [quote]here’s one other question-
          can improvements in strength, cause positive effects on stretch (without stretch intervention at same time)?

          [/quote]I think what he meant mike was:

          Can inprovements in strength cause positive effects on stretching/FLEXIBILITY, without stretching during a lifting session or afterwards

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          Jay Turner on #30541

          [i]Originally posted by lorien[/i]
          On the other hand, despite where in the training year you are, if you feel stiff; you should stretch. If you feel stiff during warmup before the most important competition in the season … you’re pretty much f****d!

          If you are warming up for your most important meet of the season, how and why is it possible that you’d be stiff that day? Explain what would be some possible/probable causes for this.

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          alex on #30542

          The most likely cause of tightness on the day of the big meet is probably poor planning/periodization. For example not enough tapering, or adding something new right before a meet. Another possibility is injuries that have not quite fully recovered. Thoughts?

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          Jay Turner on #30543

          [i]Originally posted by Alex[/i]
          The most likely cause of tightness on the day of the big meet is probably poor planning/periodization. For example not enough tapering, or adding something new right before a meet. Another possibility is injuries that have not quite fully recovered. Thoughts?

          But that’s what I don’t understand. How do you all of a sudden get tight before your big meet and it have something to do with poor periodization? That doesn’t make sense to me.

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          lorien on #30544

          It was more of an empty statement addressing the importance of flexibility work done before things get serious. For sprinters; two heats of running close to 100% might just have consequences the following day when the semifinal and final is run, if youâ??re not prepared enough. For jumpers; three jumps in the qualification might also have their trails the following days if not prepared enough.

          When youâ??re in prime form your body does a little more than youâ??re used to â?¦ surprise might come the next day.

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          Jay Turner on #30545

          [i]Originally posted by lorien[/i]
          It was more of an empty statement addressing the importance of flexibility work done before things get serious. For sprinters; two heats of running close to 100% might just have consequences the following day when the semifinal and final is run, if youâ??re not prepared enough. For jumpers; three jumps in the qualification might also have their trails the following days if not prepared enough.

          When youâ??re in prime form your body does a little more than youâ??re used to â?¦ surprise might come the next day.

          I understand that as well lorien. . . .

          But if you have tapered in the days leading up to your peak meet, this means you more than likely were have sessions with reps of max or near max intensity, then how do you get sore for one meet? You have done workouts like this all week.

          For example, periodization was horrible for the year but then your 7 day taper was pretty good. How is it possible to be sore for your peak meet?

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          lorien on #30546

          Letâ??s put it this way … during a few major championships â?¦ lots of the guys running 100m and advancing to the semis and some to the final looked pretty sore warming up for the 200m. The same can be said for the guys who had to PR or SB in the preliminaries in order to run in the semis the next day. We used to laugh about how some tried to hide it.

          Maybe we have a different understanding of tapering. During the last week I would avoid the same stimulus as in competition, meaning 100% all out. If you injure yourself even slightly inside the tapering period â?¦ youâ??re also f****d â?? no time to heal.

          I have a difficult time arguing with you because Iâ??m pretty much agreeing with you on all aspects. The difference is probably in how I look at major championships. The event usually takes a few days (in triple jump three days). And sometimes athletes have to push themselves to their limit or over, in order to advance in to the finals. And when you PR a day or two before the final, it CAN sometimes make your body ache and you donâ??t necessarily feel too good at warm up the next day. It definitely helps having a good base flexibility at that point. The flexibility is created earlier to help you in these kinds of circumstances.

        • Mike Young
          Keymaster
          Mike Young on #30547

          Todd-
          If what you meant in your question was what DaGov described then yes, I think strength training definitely can have a HUGE effect on flexibility. The effect however is not always a positive one. For example, if repeated limited range of motion (ROM) exercises are used without balancing their use with either FULL range of motion lifts, mobility, or flexibility work then I think that it can negatively affect ROM. If on the other hand exercises are done through FULL ranges of motion such as Olympic style DEEP squats, overhead squats, or RDLs then I can actually see it as one of the best types of flexibility training their is. This is because it not only develops the ROM of a joint but does so in a functional manner while concurrently developing strength through the complete range of motion that the human body is meant to move through.

          Re: Tightness on big competition days-
          In addition to Lorien’s comments, I’d like to add that tightness on a big competition day could be just as much or more to do with nerves than any periodization issue. This is because what is commonly referred to as “muscle tone or tonus” is primarily controlled by the autonomic nervous system and as a result would be highly effected by anxiety and stress levels.

          Lorien-
          Nice comments! I’ve had similar thoughts on your statements regarding flexibility work providing a “buffer zone” for power output and thereby decreasing the chance of injury associated with high power output work. I flip flop a little on the subject but my current thinking is that this may be the case. Since this thread seems to be a good one, I’ll post my thoughts on both sides of this argument:

          Pro: Speed and power activities require a compliant musculotendonous unit which is capable of storing and releasing high amounts of elastic energy. If the musculotendonous unit is not sufficiently compliant to meet the demands of energy absorption and release they may exceed the limit of the musculotendonous unit and result in injury. Some forms of stretching have been shown to increase the viscosity and compliancy of the musculotendonous unit and as a result would be expected to decrease the likelihood of injury.

          Con: Speed and power activities require a musculotendonous unit that is compliant but also capable of adequately transmitting the forces of both the muscles responsible for movement and those responsible for joint stabilization. As such, while power outputs may be restrained by the “buffer zone,” so might the ability of stabilizing muscles to adequately protect a joint from injury. In addition to this, tendons are the primary mechanisms for feedback to the central nervous system on muscle tension and length changes. If the tendon is made to lax, this mechanism may be compromised and increase the chance of injury.

          ELITETRACK Founder

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          Jay Turner on #30548

          [i]Originally posted by lorien[/i]
          Letâ??s put it this way … during a few major championships â?¦ lots of the guys running 100m and advancing to the semis and some to the final looked pretty sore warming up for the 200m. The same can be said for the guys who had to PR or SB in the preliminaries in order to run in the semis the next day. We used to laugh about how some tried to hide it.

          Maybe we have a different understanding of tapering. During the last week I would avoid the same stimulus as in competition, meaning 100% all out. If you injure yourself even slightly inside the tapering period â?¦ youâ??re also f****d â?? no time to heal.

          I have a difficult time arguing with you because Iâ??m pretty much agreeing with you on all aspects. The difference is probably in how I look at major championships. The event usually takes a few days (in triple jump three days). And sometimes athletes have to push themselves to their limit or over, in order to advance in to the finals. And when you PR a day or two before the final, it CAN sometimes make your body ache and you donâ??t necessarily feel too good at warm up the next day. It definitely helps having a good base flexibility at that point. The flexibility is created earlier to help you in these kinds of circumstances.

          In this way I kind of see what you mean. And as you said, I have a hard time arguing anything because I agree with you as well.

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          Jay Turner on #30549

          [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
          Todd-
          If what you meant in your question was what DaGov described then yes, I think strength training definitely can have a HUGE effect on flexibility. The effect however is not always a positive one. For example, if repeated limited range of motion (ROM) exercises are used without balancing their use with either FULL range of motion lifts, mobility, or flexibility work then I think that it can negatively affect ROM. If on the other hand exercises are done through FULL ranges of motion such as Olympic style DEEP squats, overhead squats, or RDLs then I can actually see it as one of the best types of flexibility training their is. This is because it not only develops the ROM of a joint but does so in a functional manner while concurrently developing strength through the complete range of motion that the human body is meant to move through.

          In case you don’t kno mike, I do Power Cleans, Hang Cleans, Push Presses, “Regular” Deadlifts, “Regular” Squats, and Bench Press on my Speed/Power days. My auxilliary days are just your normal dumbbell exercises most people do. KNowing this, how would my flexibility be affected?

        • Mike Young
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          Mike Young on #30550

          You don’t have anything to worry about. I don’t even think it would be much of a problem if all you did was partial ROM weight lifting exercises as long as it was supplemented with mobility or flexibility work. This however wouldn’t provide the benefits I stated for FULL range of motion lifts.

          ELITETRACK Founder

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          Jay Turner on #30551

          [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
          You don’t have anything to worry about. I don’t even think it would be much of a problem if all you did was partial ROM weight lifting exercises as long as it was supplemented with mobility or flexibility work. This however wouldn’t provide the benefits I stated for FULL range of motion lifts.

          1. Can you give me some examples of ROM exercises I could incorporate into my program? And how would I supplement mobility or flexibility work in my program?

          2. What exactly wouldn’t provide the benefits you stated for FULL range of motion lifts? I didn’t understand that last part.

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          Derrick Brito on #30552

          [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
          If what you meant in your question was what DaGov described then yes, I think strength training definitely can have a HUGE effect on flexibility. The effect however is not always a positive one. For example, if repeated limited range of motion (ROM) exercises are used without balancing their use with either FULL range of motion lifts, mobility, or flexibility work then I think that it can negatively affect ROM. If on the other hand exercises are done through FULL ranges of motion such as Olympic style DEEP squats, overhead squats, or RDLs then I can actually see it as one of the best types of flexibility training their is. This is because it not only develops the ROM of a joint but does so in a functional manner while concurrently developing strength through the complete range of motion that the human body is meant to move through.

          i think is the answer youre looking for dagov

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          Carson Boddicker on #30553

          being a distance runner, should i be worried about the power output loss if i stretch after my warmup for the 5000?

        • Mike Young
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          Mike Young on #30554

          Although distance runners likely won’t see the power and force decrements that speed / power athletes will, the evidence for stretching as a CAUSE for injury is much stronger among athletes that do not have as high a need for the tendon compliancy that I spoke of in one of my previous posts. This evidence however is all concluded from research where the stretching is performed prior to the activity. In light of this and some of the previous points I’ve mentioned, I think distance runners actually have a greater need to do static stretching (done post-workout or intermittently throughout the workout to prevent injury during the performance of the activity) than sprinters because they are so prone to tightness in the Achilles, hamstring, and low back. I think that this tightness is most likely due to an extension of one of my previous points….many repetitions of partial ROM activity (which distance running essentially is) will most likely limit flexibility and joint ROM unless it is supplemented by mobility or flexibility work.

          As a side note, let’s keep up the great discussion. This thread is bordering on “Classic” status. I”m especially anxious to here input from Todd, KT, and Phoenix on all this. topic

          ELITETRACK Founder

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          Carson Boddicker on #30555

          thanks..great points.

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          dma1973 on #30556

          I’m enjoying this.

          I stretch most days after training (takes 40 – 60 minutes) of static stretching. I have noticed a greater amount of soreness if I miss this session. PnF is a great way to stretch if you have a partner to help (I don’t)

          Nice point about full range exercises, partials cause alot of problemsin the gym. Mind you I am sick of people at the gym telling me not to full squats and olympic lifting (What the hell is a lifting platform and squat rack for?)

          Re: distance runners – I’m with Mike. I would of thought distance runners would get a lot of tightness through the back.

          I have been coaching an athlete who likes the older style warmup – run than stretch for 20 minutes, we are currently changing this to more of an active one – they have noticed the difference when we get into proper training. I do allow them 2 x 5 minutes static stretching if they want during the warm up.

          I regard to being too flexibility isn’t it the same as being too strong?

          I can’t comment on research or science, but if it works use it – as long as it fits into programme.

        • Mike Young
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          Mike Young on #30557

          [i]Originally posted by DMA[/i]
          In regard to being too flexible isn’t it the same as being too strong?

          Nope. Not even close. In my opinion, it is impossible to be too strong. This of course is said assuming that the pursuit of additional strength isn’t coming at the cost of advancement in other areas which may be lacking. On the other hand, it is quite easy to be too flexible in my opinion. A hyperflexible joint is an injury waiting to happen and certainly not one best suited for maximum power or force output. ROM far beyond normal limits is typically indicative of joint laxity and / or ligament creep. Because the ligaments are the means by which muscles transfer their force to the skeletal system, if they are too compliant (i.e. like taffy rather than a rubber band) then the transfer of torque from the contractile components of muscle to the skeletal system for movement will be greatly diminished. To get a better picture of this, imagine a truck attempting to tow a car. Now imagine that a piece of bungee cord is the only mechanism linking the truck to the car. If that bungee cord is an industrial strength, high-tension bungee cord, and there is no laxity in the cord as the truck begins to move then we would expect that the pulling forces generated by the truckwould quickly and efficiently be applied to the car and the car would begin to move. If however, that cord has been stretched beyond its elastic limit such it there is now some slack in the cord before the truck begins to pull, then the slack must be removed from the cord before any of the pulling forces generated by the truck would be transferred to the car. So in this scenario, we would see that the truck would pull but the car would remain stationary until all of the slack had been taken out of the cord. If we take this a step further, and not only have a cord with some slack in it but also replace our industrial strength, high-tension bungee cord with one of lesser elastic strength characteristics, then we would see that the pulling forces of the truck would not be transferred to the car until BOTH the slack had been taken out of the cord AND the cord had been stretched to a point where it was capable of producing enough tension to transfer the pulling forces from the truck to the car. In this example, the pulling action of the truck represents that of the muscles, the car represents the bone to which the muscle attaches, and the bungee cord would be the tendons attaching the muscle to the bone. When tendons are elongated (which is what occurs as a result of excessive stretching / flexibility) we get into situations where there may be slack and / or decreased tension capacities as in the example above. As compelling as this example is (at least to me) it would be made even stronger if we looked at the neurological effects of excessive stretching in addition to the mechanical effects of stretching.

          ELITETRACK Founder

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          dma1973 on #30558

          I understand that thanks Mike. Just threw it out there.

          I was thinking more from a practical point of view.

          Nice reply. 😀

        • Mike Young
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          Mike Young on #30559

          Since I’ve mainly been giving the reasons against stretching I thought I’d (somewhat) balance my comments with some of the reasons supporting the use of stretching.

            [*]There is some evidence that an effective stretching program combined with strength training can result in beneficial postural realignment. This may contribute to more efficient movement. Research evicence on this topic is divided.
            [*]Stretching can help improve flexibility imbalances among limbs which may be a cause of injury.
            [*]Stretching is both psychologically and physiologically relaxing and it can be opportunity for social development and team building when done in a practice situation.
            [*]Stretching can increase the compliancy of tendons which may create a more elastic response. There is little research to support this notion though.
            [*]Extreme flexibility imbalances (whether agonist / antagonist or by side of the body) may result in movement disfunction and only increase the the imbalance and stretching is one of the most effective tools at addressing this issue.
            [*]PNF stretching routines can be used to develop strength in extreme ranges of motion.
            [*]There is some anecdotal evidence which suggests that certain types of stretching may be used to address abnormal firing patterns in a muscle.
            [*]Dynamic stretching may provide a lead-in from general warmup activities to more specific and higher velocity movements.
            [*]Certain stretching routines are effective for treating muscle spasms and rehabilitating injured joints and returning them to normal ranges of motion.
            [*]Soft tissue stretching such as that used in ART and Rolfing are effective tools to address soft tissue adhesions and movement disorders.

          Anything else?

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          thor on #30560

          When I started sprinting a couple of years ago, I hadn’t really been working out for around ten years. I was always pretty stiff when I was younger and of course at that time I was even worse, especially in the whole posterior chain. When seated on a floor, legs slightly bent, I couldn’t move my head closer to the feet than slighly past the hips (back bent and all).

          After doing static stretches for three hours a day for a whole year, I could touch my knees with my forehead. Stretching was done a couple of hours before training and then four or five hours after. No warm-up. The protocol was 3×1 minutes holds on each stretch.

          Today, after having stopped stretching for over a year, I’m back where I started – stiff like few others. However, this has not changed my running a bit, which makes me wonder – does increased flexibility really improve range of motion?

        • Mike Young
          Keymaster
          Mike Young on #30561

          I don’t think your observations are unique. I would make the following points though:
          *Static flexibility undoubtedly enhances static flexibility and ROM.
          *The correlation between static and dynamic flexibility is quite low.
          *Dynamic flexibility is what appears to be more necessary in sporting movements.
          *As long as dynamic flexibility is maintained there may be little detriment and perhaps even an improvement in performance if a muscle becomes more tight.

          ELITETRACK Founder

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          Kebba Tolbert on #30562

          I just stumbled onto this discussion today…… I think that the benefits of static stretching are often overstated… but i do think the flexibility, especially dynamic flex, is crucial. Part of being athletic/graceful is the ability to effortlessly get into and out of positions. i think that this is one of the hidden benefits of stuff like hurdle mobility and olympic lifting.

          i do think that a good static routine is good post workout or on certain evenings. i also like Kit Laughlin as well for evening routines.

        • Mike Young
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          Mike Young on #30563

          What / who is Kit Laughlin? Is this some new girlfriend that you secretly meet for evening routines?

          ELITETRACK Founder

        • Mike Young
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          Mike Young on #30564

          I've added the article mentioned above to the article database. Click HERE to read it.

          ELITETRACK Founder

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