What Can We Learn from YOGA?

Here’s a good podcast from Brooke Thomas’ Liberated Body website. It’s a fascia and Yoga heavy blog that I recently stumbled upon.

In this podcast, Brooke interviews Jules Mitchell on the science of stretching. It was great to hear a review of the studies and literature regarding stretching, and how it trumps the prevalent Yoga dogma. Some of the highlights…

  • Long, static stretching will eventually damages the muscle.
  • Tightness is not a mechanical length issue but an issue of nervous system ‘tolerance’. In this case, you can consider ‘tolerance’ similar to ‘pain tolerance’ or the signal sent from the nervous system that you’ve reached end ROM (EROM).
  • This can been shown by putting a patient under anesthesia
    • Full ROM can be achieved while the nervous system is shut down
    • General vs Spinal anesthesia will elicit different ROM
  • Passive stretching really isn’t passive as the nervous system is still involved
  • One technique is gentle passive stetching (relax in to the tolerance), hold for 30-60sec max
  • Restorative yoga can be employed. Use props to aid relaxing into stretch (pose). Relaxing on ball or roller.
  • It is far more effective to utilize muscle force at EROM
    • Neuro-muscular system works in cooperation with stetch
    • Does not apply to boney system restrictions (soft tissue only)
    • Muscle applies force in all directions, especially in to connective tissue
  • Tightness terminology is confusion. It is actually limited ROM.
  • Biotensegrity – I will have to look this up when I’m ready to jump down another rabbit hole.
  • On coming back to stretching from injuries:
    • 4-6 weeks – work on tendon strengthening. Tendons are still healing
    • Can take a year or two to fully load
    • Most people will not wait this long.
  • 2012 Study from Yoga Journal found that the number one reason people start yoga is to ‘become more flexible’. Scary thought if most yoga practitioners are working to grind out more tissue length.
  • Both Brooke and Jules mentioned they are working to decrease flexibility. I believe this is analogous to getting stronger throughout your full ROM.

All in all, nothing ground breaking here. It’s been known that your brain is doing more to limit your ROM than any other one factor. This is just another piece of the puzzle. It was also entertaining to hear from yoga practitioners.  I respect someone who can admit when their thinking may be wrong.

 

 

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