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Old 06-06-2005, 04:40 AM   #1
Neil Beevers
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Hey guys,

Does anyone here pay any particular attention to stretching and flexibility? what sort of regimen do you guys follow?

Yours,
Beev
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Old 06-06-2005, 08:30 AM   #2
Roger Harrell
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Stretch daily. Even multiple times per day. If you can stretch after your workout. You will gain flexibility faster. There have been a few threads on the board about it. Search...
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Old 06-07-2005, 08:21 PM   #3
Ben Kaminski
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If you take that to an extreme, however, you will run a high risk of injury to the muscles being stretched. Flexibility is a strange beast. I would be interested to hear from people who consider themselves successful at it. I have pulled too many muscles and not learned enough from it to give any advice, but I am always interested in that of others...
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Old 06-07-2005, 09:18 PM   #4
Roger Harrell
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As far as injury from stretching, this is really only a problem if the wrong things are stretched.

1. "Hurdler's stretch" this thing can destabilize the knee and lead to injury. There are much better ways to stretch the quads.
2. Over stretching the back of the knee, leading to hyperextension and risk of landing with hyperextended knees. (same case for elboes).

Noting the above, and a few other unusual scenarios there is little risk in gaining flexibility, and MANY benifits. My guess is virtually everyone in the crossfit crowd needs to stretch more.

I am pretty darned flexible as 33 year old guys go, and it is a wonderful thing. I am NOT naturally flexible and had to work a long time to get it.
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Old 06-08-2005, 08:08 AM   #5
Mike Ryan
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I used to be unbelievably flexible when I was a bit younger. I could do right, left and straddle splits all the way to the ground, back walkovers, and a bunch of other tumbling stuff. As Roger said, it took a long time and a good deal of effort to get there through a combination of martial arts and gymnastics. I am still very flexible at 39, though splits are not going to happen without a few months of work. I also agree that it is worth the efort.

Stretching is like any other exercise. When you first do it, it hurts. Then the body gets used to it and it stops hurting. This is when you can get into trouble. If you push too hard, you can pull something before you realize it. The best advice I can give is to go slow and steady. NEVER bounce. Stretch and hold, push a little further and hold, relax. repeat. When I was tumbling I was about 260 lbs and I used to get a kick out of the looks I would get doing back handsprings and back tucks. That was motivation for me to continue to work on that stuff. One of the things I want out of CF is to be able to do some of those tumbling moves again.

Mike.

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Old 06-08-2005, 08:21 AM   #6
Graham Tidey
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Do a search for an article (or should I say dissertation) called "Stretching Toward/For The Splits". It gives a step-by-step stretching guide for the back and lower body which is great, not just for the splits. Then throw in a few chest, shoulder, bicep, tricep, neck stretches, etc.

You could also try Yoga forums.

Usually after a workout I stretch everything using the above article and stretch the muscles used in that workout a little longer.
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Old 06-08-2005, 12:06 PM   #7
Joshua Newman
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I'm always worried about too much passive stretching, as there's a growing body of research showing that one of the biggest determinants of athletic injury is the gap between active and passive flexibility.

The worst kind of stretches (as Roger points out) are those like the traditional knee-backwards hurdler, which actually lengthen the tendons themselves. As tendons can't shorten back up like muscles can, these stretches leave tendons permanently 'loose' and often lead to subsequent joint injury.

Other stretches, the ones we all mainly pursue, are actually about re-educating your muscles' stretch reflex. The muscles in your legs, for example, are already plenty long enough to perform the splits - *if* you were able to completely relax them.

Your body knows, however, that if it lets you get into a full split, you'd have a hell of a time getting back up. So, neurons in your spinal cord put on the 'brakes', and only allow you to extend the muscle to a point from which your nervous system thinks you can easily get back.

The most effective way to build flexibility, then, is anything that uses strength in a fully extended position. That's, for example, essentially how PNF stretching works: your body stops you at what it thinks is a 'safe' outer limit. You then tense up the stretched muscles isometrically, and your body realizes, 'okay, still able to generate force in this position', and lets you extend a bit further.

Similarly, by far the most effective way to increase flexibility is to simply take exercises through a progressively larger range of motion. That's why O-lifts, for example, are so effective for building shoulder and hip flexor flexibility: you're moving a lot of weight towards the outer limits of your ROM, and proving to your nervous system that everything still comes out alright. With practice, then, your nervous system 'allows' increasing range.

I've been playing around with this line of thinking, and am hoping to post a short movement circuit targeted at building flexibility through strength by this weekend.

Until then, as Coach once pointed out, while he's spent a lifetime surrounded by gymnasts, he's very rarely seen any of them specifically work on 'stretching' in the way that most other (ironically, less flexible) athletes do.
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