Stumbled on Dean Somerset from an Eric Cressey blog post. Damn I love the Internets. Purchased his program, Ruthless Mobility after watching the following video. Dean knows his shit. It’s somewhere around 5 hours of Canadian accented mobility goodness. It’s well worth the few bucks up front. However, you will lament all those hours wasted rolling this or smashing that…what a shame.
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.
While attending Ido Portal’s movement workshop this year in Seattle, I was called out by Odelia (one of Ido’s disciples) as the “guy who can’t squat”. It’s not so much that I can’t squat, it was that I couldn’t sit ass to grass for more than a minute at a time. This isn’t unusual in our Western world and I suspect most people I know can’t either. Some of the tips given to me during that workshop to help the positioning are included in this video, which Ido released to supplement his 30/30 challenge. Head over to his Facebook page for more info. The challenge is based on the premise that the best way to improve your squat is by simply squatting…Every. Chance. You. Can. His adaptation model requires sitting for 30 minutes a day for 30 straight days. And it should result in massive improvements sitting in a squat (not to mention hip function and mobility). Thankfully, he released this video which will help some people who can’t even get in to the starting position. While I haven’t committed to 30 minutes a day (somewhat impractical, unless I could take off my pants at work), I have committed to doing this when I can and for at least 5-10 mins a day. And definitely before and after my gym time. I won’t apologize for spending so little time in a squat. Ido flows through life in short shorts with his shirt off. For the rest of us…do what you can, when you can. Commit and you will see change!
The routine in the video goes like this:
1. Knee push x 10-20 reps per side
2. Hold knee out x 10-30 sec per side
3. Sky reaches x 10-30 reps per side (extend range if possible)
4. Static pause x 10-30 sec per side
5. Buddha prayer x 10-30 reps (extend range using fist)
6. Squat bows x 10-30 reps (extend range)
7. Squat bow pause for 10-30 secs
The good news is if you’re doing all this, you’re probably down there for 10 mins. My warm-up routine is similar and varies depending on how I’m feeling. I will outline it in a future post and hopefully document how much better my ATG squat has gotten. I’m over 5 mins without much issue, so it doesn’t take a huge effort to affect change.
In the last two years, I’ve put off elaborating on my disdain for the CrossFit style kettlebell swing. Thankfully, in the age of the Internets if you wait long enough someone else will write something you agree with…and then you can simply link to it.
Here is a pretty solid article on comparing the “American” or “CrossFit” swing to the RKC or Russian style which appeared in breakingmuscle.com. The article references a pseudo engineering attempt at justifying the movement. As an engineer, I’ve always had an issue with the referenced definition of work. The body is not a black box simply doing work. For instance impulse load is neglected, as is momentum. Plus the body can exert force isometically, as in a plank. In which case, I’m doing no external “work”.