By Scott Isley
Mobility (Part 2)
So now that you’ve been doing your homework and made ten minutes a day a part of your mobility routine. We are going to add more “tools to your toolkit.” Last month we focused on our seated muscles; hip flexors, hamstrings, and lower back. This month we are going to go over the very basics of stretching. We will briefly go over static stretching, ballistic, and more dynamic stretching.
This is the most basic of stretches—probably what you are already doing already. This is where you hold a muscle to a tension point for a duration of time. For the developmental part of this stretch, we want to take our initial tension point anywhere from a 3-6 out of 10 (on a 1-10 scale; 10 being extremely painful) and hold constantly while breathing. In 15-20 seconds that tension point should slowly decrease in tension, around 20-30 seconds when you feel it reduce in discomfort, then you go a little deeper into the stretch bringing it back to the original 3-6 tension point you began with. You can hold this stretch anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. I would try and allow one to two minutes for any overly-tight area.
Static stretch with movement and oscillations and/or contractions
After the tissues are activated (by holding the stretch for one minute), we can slowly start oscillating the joint back and forth in the socket. (e.g. – if doing a hamstring stretch where your toes are facing up at 12 o’clock, gently rotate toes from the 1 o’clock position to the 11 o’clock position)
You can also, for three seconds, squeeze and contract the “antagonists”—or muscles on the opposite side of the muscle you’re stretching) (e.g.- in your hip flexor stretch, you can squeeze your glute (butt) on the same side; in your hamstring stretch, you can squeeze your quadriceps muscles (front of your leg))
This is a Plyometric stretch, one in which you “bounce” the muscle in the stretch. I would use this one with caution, especially if you are “cold” and need to warm up first. If you are going to do it, don’t go deep into your tension point keep it on a low intensity 1-3. This can be a way to warm up the tissues before activity as part of a more dynamic warm up, but isn’t a necessary part of your mobility game plan initially.
Dynamic Stretching / Warm up
These are movements that you do to gently utilize the full range of motion of the muscles activated. These are done with a particular motion which brings the muscle to a full stretch point. You can use these motions for a small repetition range (5-20) until tissues feel warmer and ready for activity
For example, a forward leg hip swing can help lengthen the muscles in the hip flexors and hamstrings and a sidle leg hip swing can help lengthen the muscles of the inner and outer thigh. (see photos). Look online for dynamic stretches, experiment, and add to your mobility/warm up routine.
This type of stretching compliments and adds to the oscillations and movements you approach during your static stretches.
Though this is a VERY general overview, use it as a starting point to continue on improving your flexibility, improving your overall function, and decrease chance for injury.
Now…..Your Homework for the Month:
– Add 5 new stretches into your daily routine
– Spend 2-5 minutes, 1 or 2 times a week to look into new stretches for the body
– Add Dynamic Stretching to your pre-workout routine
A quick Google search with images will give you a host of new ways to stretch the body. Go after new ones that you are currently not doing (think calves, forearms, neck, triceps, etc.) It’s that simple and takes no time at all! You could definitely reduce your Facebook time by five minutes and invest that into your health couldn’t you?
Here’s a flow chart to get your started:
Comment and post, let me know what new stretches your adopting and enjoying
To Your Health,
NSCA, NESTA CPT.
Courses in Diet and Exercise Physiology and Human Anatomy at UCLA
Scott has worked as a Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach for the past 10 years accumulating 8,000 hours helping clients get healthy. He currently runs his business out of Carlsbad, CA in San Diego. You can find out more by visiting:
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