Have you ever wondered why your range of motion doesn’t seem to improve?
According to Kit Laughlin, the Founder of Stretch Therapy - "It is a fact, that the end results of limbering have no comparison to efficient stretching. For example; dance and gymnastics distinguish between limbering, to loosen up the body in preparation for the day’s skill classes, and stretching, which is designed to increase the range of movement in a particular joint after warm up or workout. The latter is essential to maintain and improve performance and to avoid injury."
Why should I care to learn about my muscles anatomical location and their actions?
Healing muscular discomfort should begin by assisting each individual to fully understand their condition. After days or months of suffering with painful shoulders or back pain, familiarity with the muscles and their actions, accelerates the healing process. Thanks to GetBodySmart software, we are able to illustrate anatomy in a fun and interactive way.
Look for this sign on each stretch article. They provide a link to review the anatomical locations of muscles and their actions - don't miss this important detail before starting any of the stretching exercises.
What are the benefits of warmth while stretching?
The body is suppler when warm. We can use this knowledge to help us stretch. Stretching exercise ideally should be done after the body is already warm, so if you walk, jog or ride a bike, do your stretches when you return home.
If the body is particularly stiff, have a hot bath before commencing the workout. Soaking in hot water will increase the core temperature of the muscles facilitating a heat transfer of 2-4 °F. Afterward, dress in clothes that permit free movement but retain the heat (for example, cotton tracksuit paints and top).
Why and how do we apply the Contract-Relax (C-R) technique?
The Contract-Relax method ensures that a deeper and longer-lasting stretch is attained. Performaing a gentle contraction will locate a muscle, and will enhance the stretching effect considerably. Work done in extended position increases awareness, and the isometric contractions (C-R) build stronger muscles at the end range of movement (ROM) where the muscle is usually weak and most vulnerable. Stretches are accumulative and muscles will retain their new length.
The Contract-Relax method has three stages:
- Move limb gently into stretched position, contract gently for 1-2 sec to locate target muscles - relax, breathe deeply, and release the end ROM for 20 sec. Goal: sharpen your awareness, notice location of restrictions, target.
- C-R: gently contract-push/pull back against resistance for 5-10 sec’s using the muscle in which the initial stretch is felt – apply only 20-30% of max effort. Do not push too hard! If you feel OUCH – you went too far and overdoing the stretch!
- Then—relax—take a deep breath in before re-stretching; during breath out slowly take limb into increased ROM. Hold position for at least of 30-60 second. For larger muscle groups such as quads or hip, you may benefit from holding the final position even up to a minute or two.
When using the C-R approach do not let the limb against which the contraction is being performed move at all.
What else should I keep in mind while stretching?
STAY SAFE—YOU ARE 100% IN CHARGE OF YOUR OWN MOVEMENTS!
- Before you begin, prepare your props to ensure maximum comfort during stretching. Yoga blocks, bolsters or pillows to lean or sit on. Always begin with stretching the tighter side first, then the looser and repeat the first side for optimal balance.
- When returning from an extended position use muscles other than the ones you have been stretching.
- Maintain form of exercise – keep shoulders down away from ears – elongate your spine – lift your chest, roll your hip forward...
- Repeat C-R max three times on each side.
- Less is more! Don’t overdo the C-R otherwise you’ll be sorry the next day!
- Listen to your body! Only the muscles used to contract will experience the stretch effect —breathe deeply—observe—assess—locate—contract—increase ROM—hold your final position at least 30-60 seconds!
- If you can’t hold the final position you went too far! Use gentle contractions, be patient and focus on gradual improvements!
- Always hold the final position for the recommended time. Be patient and earn your new ROM!
- Don’t rush/panic out of end range! Breath slowly and move carefully out of the stretch. Try it again, slowly and carefully.
- Always bend forwards after bending backwards.
- Never hold your breath! Inhale and exhale slowly for a count of three - this will calm your mind (will signal your Parasympathetic Nervous System) and in turn your muscles will respond to letting go faster.
Strength and flexibility finally meets!
Crossfit Vancouver is the first gym in Vancouver that supports their members with a preventative and rehabilitative Stretch Therapy program!
If you have not participated in the September Clinic and would be interested in signing up for our next venue please contact us, we would love to hear from you! Learn Stretch Therapy to safely and efficiently stretch muscles verses wasting huge amount of time on limbering.