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Stretching in Detail

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    Stretching in Detail

    Roning PMed me and asked me to make a sticky worthy thread about stretching. Since there's no general Physical Training emblem, I gave it the science one. I'm not going to write the entire thing now. I'm going to start by describing a number of different types of stretching. I'll add more as time goes on. Feel free to ask questions or post ideas on what to add. Then maybe later I can consolidate everything into one major thread, or article or something. Massive rep please, this will take me a while.

    Static Stretching

    What is it?

    Static stretching is the most commonly known type of stretching. This is where you take a muscle to its full extension and hold it for a prolonged period of time, gradually increasing the range of motion when possible.

    How it works

    The body has a safety mechanism known as the stretch reflex. The stretch reflex is designed to protect muscles from being torn by their antagonist over extending them. When the muscle spindle senses that the muscle has stretched "far enough", it causes the muscle fibers to automatically start contracting, to prevent any further extension of the muscle. When the stretch is held safely for a long enough period of time (usually 20-30 seconds), the Golgi Tendon Organ senses that the stretch is a safe one, and begins overriding the muscle spindle. This ceases the auto-contraction, and allows the muscle to begin extending into a new range of motion.

    Helpful Tips

    Hold the stretch for a bare minimum of 30 seconds. You need to allow the GTO time to override the muscle spindle. Usually you can feel it, as the tension decreases or the muscle is allowed to increase its range.

    Multiple reps is good.

    Multiple times per day doesn't hurt.

    Save yourself time and only use static stretching for muscles that are chronically tight. These muscles will be different for every person, depending on your personal postural deviations... but some of the most common ones are: Calves, Hip Flexors, Lats, Adductors, Piriformis.

    Dynamic Stretching

    What is it?

    Dynamic stretching is moving a joint through its full range of motion, seeking to push the envelope a little bit further each time. It's usually done by swinging a limb (i.e. kicking higher and higher each time), but can be done for any muscle your imagination can figure out.

    How does it work?

    Dynamic stretching acts primarily on your nervous system and connective tissues. Your nervous system determines at what point it considers the range of motion dangerous and will try to stop the movement. Through progressive dynamic stretching, you can gradually teach the nervous system to accept a new range of motion as being safe.

    Helpful Hints

    Lots of reps.

    Take it slow. The range of motion increase needs to be very gradual, or else you're likely to cause a muscle tear.

    Use the full range of motion, instead of just going to maximum extension, moving back a little bit, and extending again. You need to train the body to enhance the joints entire range of motion.

    Ballistic Stretching

    What is it?

    Ballistic stretching is when you extend a muscle to it's limit, and then try to physically "bounce" it past that point repeatedly.

    How does it work?

    Before understanding the stretch reflex, it was thought that the limit on range of motion was due to the muscle's physical extensibility, not a bodily mechanism. Therefore, the idea was that bouncing it would allow for gradual, cumulative increases in the extensibility of the muscle, and improve flexibility. Now that the stretch reflex is understood, ballistic stretching is generally accepted as being more harmful than good.

    Helpful Hints

    Don't do it.

    PNF Stretching

    What is it?

    Stands for "Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation". It is basically the use of the proprioceptors to hasten the response of the neuromuscular system. Technically, what I will be discussing here is not true PNF stretching, as true PNF stretching is limited to use primarily in physical therapy, or a clinical setting, and is quite complicated. However, what I will be describing are two methods of stretching that are commonly referred to as PNF stretching.

    There are two methods of stretching in this manner. The first is the Contract-Relax (CR) method. The rationale here is that contracting the muscle before stretching it inhibits the stretch reflex, allowing for greater range of motion. CR stretching has the added benefit of improving strength at the extreme range of motion. The other method is the Contract-Antagonist (CA) method. The fatigue of the antagonist muscle makes it less capable of restricting the agonist, allowing for greater ROM.

    This is potentially the most effective method for improving flexibility of a joint once the muscle imbalances are resolved (for which you use static stretching)

    How does it work?

    CR Method: Move the muscle to it's full range, then perform a maximal isometric contraction of the muscle. Hold the contraction for about 10 seconds, then release and move the stretch into an increased range of motion, which you hold for 10 seconds. Repeat. Continue this until you are no longer able to increase ROM.

    CA Method: Similar to above, except that you perform the maximal isometric contraction on the antagonist.

    Helpful Hints

    Don't do every day.

    After resistance training is best, or on off days.

    Warm up first.

    Doesn't need to be done for long periods of time like static stretching. Continue until ROM gains cease, then stop.
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    "You all just got fucking owned.";
    "TaeBo_Master and GajusCaesar just scored 10,000,000 points on all you pawns."

    - The Wastrel

    #2
    can you explain what this means for the people who failed science 101 ... =)

    "then perform a maximal isometric contraction of the muscle"
    totoro-san ... world sushi munching champion ...

    Comment


      #3
      You "tense" the muscle as if you were doing a maximun effort.

      Comment


        #4
        Great start to the thread - keep it coming please!

        Would you recommend approaches to stretches depending upon the type of exercise being undertaken? For example, what types of stretching would you suggest before / after a tai chi form class as opposed to a bjj class?

        Comment


          #5
          TaeBo, can you do front and side splits? If so, then how long did it take you to achieve them with your training routine (i assume that you do all of that stuff in your examples as your stretching routine).

          Comment


            #6
            Excellent. :zicon_ram

            Comment


              #7
              What are your sources for this?

              Comment


                #8
                TaeBo, can you do front and side splits? If so, then how long did it take you to achieve them with your training routine (i assume that you do all of that stuff in your examples as your stretching routine).
                I used to be able to quite easily, when I trained myself to do so. It didn't take me very long to get there, a couple weeks perhaps. I can still come close, but I haven't wasted my time on splits in forever.

                What are your sources for this?
                Jesus Christ man. I've been studying this shit for years. You really want me to go back and look up all my books and professors and shit? After you've studied enough, things sort of become general knowledge.
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                "You all just got fucking owned.";
                "TaeBo_Master and GajusCaesar just scored 10,000,000 points on all you pawns."

                - The Wastrel

                Comment


                  #9
                  Where would you guys like me to go next? Applications of stretching methods? Examples of stretches? Commonly tight muscle groups and their related postural deviations, along with remedies? Or are there other areas you'd like me to cover?
                  Click To Get My Free Training Newsletter... Do It NOW!


                  "You all just got fucking owned.";
                  "TaeBo_Master and GajusCaesar just scored 10,000,000 points on all you pawns."

                  - The Wastrel

                  Comment


                    #10
                    how about a basic stretch routine ?
                    totoro-san ... world sushi munching champion ...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by TaeBo_Master
                      Where would you guys like me to go next? Applications of stretching methods? Examples of stretches? Commonly tight muscle groups and their related postural deviations, along with remedies? Or are there other areas you'd like me to cover?
                      If you've got time could you do 'Why is dynamic stretching different to bouncing?'
                      Thanks.

                      Originally posted by Stickx
                      It must suck for legit practitioners of tai chi like Cullion to see their art get all watered down into exercise for seniors.
                      Those who esteme qi have no strength. ~ Exposition of Insights into the Thirteen Postures Attrib: Wu Yuxiang founder of Wu style tai chi.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        A basic stretching routine would be impossible to post. The reason being that everyone's flexibility needs are different. It depends on your personal muscle imbalances, your goals, and your experience level. What I could do is post a piece on common muscle imbalances and how to remedy them, or if you want to give me more time and go into more detail... I could post a fairly extensive flexibility assessment and related stretches.
                        Click To Get My Free Training Newsletter... Do It NOW!


                        "You all just got fucking owned.";
                        "TaeBo_Master and GajusCaesar just scored 10,000,000 points on all you pawns."

                        - The Wastrel

                        Comment


                          #13
                          The difference between dynamic stretching and bouncing:

                          In a dynamic stretch you're moving the joint through it's entire range of motion, from full extension to full flexion, and trying to add a little bit of range at the end of each.

                          In a ballistic or bouncing stretch, you start the stretch in the fully stretched position, and then bounce it a little bit deeper, then returning to your starting point. The stretch never leaves a stretched position, and doesn't incorporate a full range of motion.
                          Click To Get My Free Training Newsletter... Do It NOW!


                          "You all just got fucking owned.";
                          "TaeBo_Master and GajusCaesar just scored 10,000,000 points on all you pawns."

                          - The Wastrel

                          Comment


                            #14
                            And ronin you bastard.... I made this thread at your request, and have gotten many reps for it (but keep em coming guys!).... but you yourself haven't repped me yet. What's the deal?
                            Click To Get My Free Training Newsletter... Do It NOW!


                            "You all just got fucking owned.";
                            "TaeBo_Master and GajusCaesar just scored 10,000,000 points on all you pawns."

                            - The Wastrel

                            Comment


                              #15
                              If I were not vanquished from your presence for all eternity, I would ask for an example (picture if possible) of a dynamic stretch, because I still have trouble figuring it out.
                              Last edited by Lights Out; 2/18/2005 4:43am, . Reason: Typo.

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