The Truth About Stretching And Warming Up

The Truth About Stretching And Warming Up

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
― Mae West

There are many schools of thought with regards to stretching, warming up, and cooling down. Let’s get one thing right before we start. Each individual has different needs and requirements for their own body. There is no universal principle that applies to everyone, whether it be stretching, working out, or eating. The most important aspect is to find out what works best for YOU and refine your craft from there.With that being said, here is the new school of thought about stretching.

“Although it’s often prescribed as an injury-prevention measure, static stretching before a workout might be the worst of all strategies.”

Static stretching before a workout forces your muscles to relax, in effect making them weaker in the short-term. This causes imbalances with surrounding muscle groups which will affect your strength gains and performance along with opening yourself up for injury.

“Static stretching also reduces blood flow to your muscles and decreases the activity of your central nervous system—meaning it inhibits your brain’s ability to communicate with your muscles, which limits your capacity to generate force.”

What To Do Instead

Self-Myofascial Release

Self-myofascial release is a self-massage using objects like foam rollers, medicine balls, or even tennis and golf balls. Performing some SMR prior to training will increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscle. Also, SMR will alleviate any minor soft tissue restrictions that could hinder your performance.

Example: IT band foam roll

  1. Start by lying on your side, support your body weight with your legs and arms, and lie with a foam roller or ball under the upper, outside portion of your thigh – this is the proximal portion of your IT band.
  2. Use your legs and arms to roll the length of your IT band along the ball, traveling right down to just above your knee-joint. As you get closer to your knee, you may feel more tenderness, so be prepared to use your arms and legs to ease pressure off of your IT band.
  3. Complete for 30 seconds/body part.

Dynamic Mobility

Dynamic stretching improves your “active” flexibility, the kind you need in every type of athletic endeavor. Dynamic stretching also excites your central nervous system,  increases blood flow,  and increases strength and power production.

Example: Dynamic Inchworm

  1. Standing with your feet hip-distance apart,  bend at the waist, keeping your legs as straight as possible, until your hands touch the floor about 8 to 12 inches from your feet
  2.  Walk your hands out to pushup position (or extended out in front for shoulder activation as well)
  3.  Walk your feet in toward your hands with short choppy steps. Complete for 15-20 yards.

Muscle Activation

Muscle activation utilizes exercises that improve the mind – muscle connection and ensures that all of the important stabilizer muscles are maximally turned on and functioning properly.

Example: Back bridge with single leg option

  1. Lying on the back with knees bent at 90 degrees, arms extended sideward at 45 degrees and feet on the ground, raise the hips off of the ground until the trunk and thighs form a generally straight line. The spine must not arch to achieve this position.
  2. With the buttocks still up, straighten the left leg until it aligns with the trunk and thigh. Don’t let the trunk and pelvis sag on the unsupported side. Hold five seconds, and then switch to the other leg.
  3. Repeat for one minute. If the spine begins to sag, arch, or tilt, lower to the starting position, rest for 3 to 5 seconds, then, try again

CNS Activation (Central Nervous System)

In the CNS Activation stage, fast and explosive movements are utilized to continue to prepare the body for a workout These types of activities are heavily CNS-dominant and therefore ensure that your CNS is primed and ready for the more intense lifts to follow.

Example: Box Jumps

  1. Stand in front of a sturdy box or bench, your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees, then jump onto the box, landing softly.
  3.  Step down to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 8-12 reps.

When To Incorporate Static Stretching

“Improvements in flexibility are specific to your body position and speed of movement. So if you do only static stretching—as most poeple are advised—you’ll primarily boost your flexibility in that exact posture while moving at a slow speed. While certainly effective if you’re a contortionist, it has limited carryover to the flexibility you need in sports and weight training, which require your muscles to stretch at fast speeds in various body positions.”

Abandoning static stretching all together isn’t necessary. Most studies show to increase general flexibility you need to stretch twice a day, every day. Any less frequently and you won’t maintain your gains in flexibility. This is why most flexibility plans don’t work. A structured plan of post workout static stretching and stretching before bed(15-20 seconds/stretch) can help with your overall well being and general functionality as an upright human.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From South Bend,

Kevin
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The 5 Exercise Mistakes You Could Be Making

The 5 Exercise Mistakes You Could Be Making

1.You are a victim of routine and habit:

Muscle memory is no myth. If you perform the same exercises and workouts every week, with no variation, your muscles will grow accustomed with them overtime and your fitness goals will severely plateau. Repitition of exercises allows the brain to become “hard-wired” with a simple, efficient circuitry that enables the activity. The brain and muscles no longer have to work hard to make that particular movement happen, so the activity “feels easy” to you, as if it were second nature.

My suggestion: Switch it up

  • I am all for getting in and sticking to a set routine, however, if you want to see progression in your fitness goals, whether it is bigger strength gains or more fat loss, vary your workouts/rep range/rest time.  You will see dramatic changes as your muscles will have to work harder to adapt to these new changes.

Great examples:

  1. Intervals vs. steady cardio. (see previous post for more specifics about this)
  2. Heavier weights with reps between 5 and 8 and allowing more rest in between rest.

2. You don’t get in a good warm-up:

The goal of any warm-up is to increase your heart rate, body temperature,. and blood flow to your muscles. The increase in these things will prepare you muscles and mind-set for the upcoming exercises. As a result, you will see better performance results and reduce chance of injury. Research over the last decade has shown static stretching cold muscles can actually inhibit performance and put you at greater risk of injury.

My suggestion: Perform movements that are specific to the exercises that will follow.

  • Activate the energy systems and muscles that are going to be required to complete your workout.
Great Examples:
  1. Jump Rope for 5 minutes- This gets both your legs and upper body involved at the same time.
  2. Dynamic stretch warm-up and not static stretching!-Do 5-10 minutes of dynamic movements that will get your blood flowing and major muscle groups activated. (bodyweight pushups, lunges, squats, or spider man crawls all work great)
3. You don’t do enough multi-joint movements:
Everyone wants more bang for their buck. So, why limit yourself to single joint movements or “isolated movements” when you can combine exercises and use multiple joints to build muscle, decrease fat, increase metabolic rate, and burn more calories, all at the same time.
My suggestion: Use multi-joint movements for the bulk or your exercises and supplement them with single joint movements.
  • Multi-joint movements will allow you to become a more functional and well conditioned athlete by using major muscle groups in conjunction with one another.
  • Supplementing multi joint movements with single joint movements will allow you to take care of the smaller and stabilizer muscles that can be overshadowed when doing multi-joint movements.
Great Examples:
  1. The old-fashioned back squat- Not only do squats activate all your lower body muscle group,  but it also activates your core muscles which are the foundation to your strength and posture. (utilizes knee,ankle, and hip joints)
  2. Dumbbell snatch- A great, functional exercise that utilizes major muscle groups such as your legs, core, and shoulders.

4. After all my suggestions you still do sit-ups:

Core is an essential component to a functional and strong body.Why is it that I continue to see people wasting time doing one of the most inefficient and outdated exercises today!

My suggestion: Trade in your old-fashioned sit ups for a core exercises that are more efficient

  • There still exists a common misconception that the key to a six-pack is by doing a bunch of sit-ups. False, the key to washboard abs is by losing stomach fat through a healthy(total body) exercise regimen and an all-natural diet.

Great Examples:

1. Plank on swiss ball- This exercise will force you to stabilize your core on an unbalanced surface.

2. Hanging leg raise- Targets your hipflexors and lower abs along with the rest of your core.

5. You don’t replenish your muscles after your workout:

“Approximately 30 minutes after intense exercise, the body optimizes its ability to replenish energy stores-particularly muscle and liver glycogen. This is also a critical time because the body instigates muscle protein synthesis for muscle tissue recovery and repair, replenishes fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat, and adapts to the stresses encountered in the workout.”

My Suggestion: Invest in a workout shaker and some tupperware.

  • Bringing a recovery powder to your workout will ensure you provide your muscles with adequate nutrition to fully recover immediately after finishing. Bringing some food in Tupperware is also a great way to ensure you are getting ample carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Depending on your sport and fitness goals, your post-workout shake should range from a 1:1 carb/protein ratio to 4:1 carb/protein  ratio if you are involved in more endurance activities and are trying to restore carbohydrate levels.

Great Example

1. 6oz of coconut water
6oz of unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c yogurt, 1 banana
1 c frozen strawberries/blueberries
1 scoop whey protein powder
3-5 grams glutamine

For all those interested in fat loss, check out my good friend’s website Kellie Kaufman at https://wrapmeskinnywithkellie.myitworks.com/home. This may help you gain the edge and break through plateaus.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From Naples,

Kevin

kdeeth21@gmail.com