Monday, March 19, 2007

Stretching The Truth

By now everyone knows how much I like to expose each and every scam in this sick industry of ours as often as I can. I like to try to provide some light of truth in this world of darkness. Today I'd like to discuss some more lies that have been perpetrated on all of us for way too long.

When it comes to stretching, flexibility and mobility, it seems that quite a few experts are very confused. They have taken that confusion and spread it to the masses and now nobody has a clue what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to this topic.

What exactly am I talking about? Well about this statement, for one…

“There is absolutely no correlation between static and dynamic flexibility.”

Uhh…ok, sure.

Then why is that dancers and martial artists stretch until they are blue in the face every day of the year?

I remember a funny (not humorous in the least, but funny) little strength coach used to try to prove this point to be true by saying that he knew a martial artist who could kick Shaquille O’Neal in the head but couldn’t touch his own knees. Of course this is a ludicrous (not Ludacris) statement and like everything else that ever came out of his mouth was a complete made up lie.

What about if a guy could do a split but was not a martial artist? Yes, the first time he attempted to kick someone in the head he might be at risk of injury because it is a new range of motion and is an explosive movement he is not used to. But he is going to fair far better than my fat uncle who hasn’t stretched since glutamine was still a popular supplement that supposedly helped build muscle… wait, is glutamine still a popular supplement that supposedly helps build muscle? God help us.

Anyway, it’s no different from a 600 pound squatter who has never done a plyo exercise in his life, attempting to do five sets of depth jumps off a four foot box. Maybe he should technically be able to do it, but it is a brand new stimulus and something he has never done before so the risk of injury will still be very high. This is not a good enough reason to throw static stretching out the window.

They say that static stretching has no carryover to the playing field. Again this is ridiculous. The best way to gain flexibility is to train flexibility and the best way to do that is by doing hours and hours of static stretching just like a dancer or martial artist. If your hamstrings are about as tight as the virgin, Connie Swale and then you stretch the shit out of them for three months straight you are going to feel a lot better both on and off the field. If you tried to break out into a sprint with your extremely tight hammies, there would be a good chance of pulling or even tearing them. If, three months later, you possessed the kind of flexibility that would make a Cirque Du Soleil performer jealous, I guarantee you that your chance of a hamstring injury will be greatly reduced and your recovery time will be drastically improved.

If a running back can do a full split, is that not going to improve his ability to safely and efficiently hurdle an oncoming tackler? According to some misinformed people who are trying to trick you, said running back would tear his hamstring to shreds attempting that move because static flexibility has no correlation with dynamic flexibility.

If I gave you a list of pro athletes who do numerous hours each week of static stretching and even participate in (dare I say it?) yoga or ballet, you would see that their incidence of injury is very low. Coincidence?

If you are over the age of thirty you may remember a wide receiver named Willie Gault who was a Chicago Bears wide receiver on the '85 Super Bowl team. He was known for being a dancer and doing tons of static stretching. He was never injured and was also the fastest man in the NFL and even had a tryout for the US Olympic Team. Coincidence?

A common problem that many people encounter when squatting is that their ass “tucks under.” This causes a great amount of undue stress on the lower back. The reason this happens is because the hamstrings are too tight and thus pull on the pelvis causing it to rotate. As you descend in the squat, the hamstrings lengthen. When they are too tight they can only go so far. The cure for this problem? Static stretching.

Useless? I think not.

For chronically tight areas like hip flexors and piriformis, there is no choice but to static stretch. You can do all your little kicks and leg swings from now ‘til Chingy or Young Cheesy or whoever comes out without a record that can touch anything ever done by Public Enemy (eg. ‘til eternity) but it’s not gonna do a damn thing to help. The only way to improve those areas and to lessen the lower back pain that can be caused from those muscles being tight is to do a whole lot of static stretching.

Like I often ask, who comes up with this shit?

Stay tuned for much more on this subject.

And remember: linear periodization still works, static stretching still works, the basic exercises still work, food is still better than protein powder, and most supplements still suck. The more things change the more they stay the same…