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Thread: The Only Three Stretches You Need - Newsletter Mini Article

  1. #1
    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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    The Only Three Stretches You Need - Newsletter Mini Article

    by Riley Bestwick

    Yeah, we know. Stretching is about as much fun as a root canal or maybe sticking your hand in boiling hot water. Still, if you want to fully maximize your muscle growth, reduce injury, and get rid of nagging aches and pains, stretching – like the dentist – is a necessary evil.

    But it doesn't mean we have to run the gamut and try every stretch ever invented by whoever invents such horrible things. All we need are a few "moneymaker" stretches that will give us the most bang for our buck.

    We recommend doing the following stretches before training, before bed, before sex...well, before anything really. It's best if they're performed every day.

    Hold each stretch for 30 seconds before moving on to the next.

    Hip Flexor Stretch

    Get some knee padding and drop into a lunge position with both hands overhead.

    - Stay Tall. Don’t arch your lower back. Keep your spine neutral. Chest up, shoulder-blades back & down, push your pelvis forward.

    - Squeeze Your Glutes. Increases the hip flexor stretch. Squeeze the glute of your back leg as hard as you can.


    Hip Flexor Stretch

    Bulgarian Split Squat Stretch

    Similar to the lunge stretch, the BSS stretches your quads instead of your hip flexors. Set up like you're going to do a regular Bulgarian split squat, but place a pad or mat underneath your back knee. Let your knee rest there for the duration of the stretch.

    - Stay tall. Don’t arch your lower back. Keep your spine neutral. Chest up, shoulder-blades back & down, push your pelvis forward.

    - Squeeze Your Glutes. Increases the hip flexor stretch. Squeeze the glute of your back leg as hard as you can.

    - Look, Ma! No hands! Don't support your legs with your hands. Instead, let them fall to your side.


    Bulgarian Split Squat Stretch

    Seated 90/90

    This stretches your external hip rotators. To do it, sit on a bench and pull your left foot up while pushing your shin and knee down.

    - Stay tall. Don’t bend over or slouch your shoulders. Keep your spine neutral. Chest up. Shoulder-blades back & down. Look forward.

    - Pull gently. Don’t force the movement. You should feel this stretch in your glutes, not in your knees.

    While stretching may not be your idea of a good time, these simple lower body stretches can make you feel and perform better and take less than five minutes to complete.


    Seated 90/90 Stretch

    This exclusive article (and others) can be found in the latest Wannabebig Serious About Muscle Newsletter - March 24th, 2010

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  2. #2
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    This might seem like a dumb question but whenever I do the hip flexor stretch I feel it in my front leg sometimes as much if not more than my back leg. I thought you should just feel it in the back leg.
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    +1 here for those stretches...

    Id also add one hamstring stretch and thats all you need before a squat session.

  4. #4
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    I actually enjoy stretching.

    Really good to see somebody recommending some static stretching as well.

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    Stretching is a grossly under-utilized tool for recovery and general health. These stretches are pretty weak though, IMO. To me, the 90/90 seated stretch is better done on the floor with your rear leg straight back and front leg bent at 90 degrees in the splits. These stretches might be good for a warmup, so as not to overstretch, but they don't do anything for me.
    Last edited by MadChef; 03-24-2010 at 01:19 PM.

  6. #6
    Hungry like the wolf. Dgro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadChef View Post
    Stretching is a grossly under-utilized tool for recovery and general health. These stretches are pretty weak though, IMO. To me, the 90/90 seated stretch is better done on the floor with your rear leg straight back and front leg bent at 90 degrees in the splits. These stretches might be good for a warmup, so as not to overstretch, but they don't do anything for me.
    agreed completely. these are all stretches i did at one point but don't bother with anymore because there's simply better **** out there.
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    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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    I think it depends on your level of mobility.

    I ignored any type of mobility/stretching for about 15 years, so it's essential for me to thoroughly stretch and do a good dynamic warm up before hitting the weights otherwise I get a ton of niggles.

    For example if I go into Elevated Split Squats without doing the above stretches everything feels so stiff and I have had some odd tweaks and twinges. The 90/90 stretch I do on the floor also.


    awesome. I do that at the 90/90 stretch on the floor before my leg workout. The BPSS really loosens me up and its MUCH easier to go into Elevated Split Squats
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    WannabePLer fpr's Avatar
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    So why are the three "moneymaker" stretches all for the lower-body? Nothing at all for upper?

  9. #9
    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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    You know that's actually a fair point

    I think mobility issues tend to be more common with the lower body, so i think that's why it focused on lower bosy stretches. But perhaps we should have called the mini article 'The Only Three Stretches You Need For the Lower Body' or something to that effect.

    Thanks for the feedback!
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    May I make some suggestions re. the thee stretches?

    Hello all,

    Riley wrote:

    - Stay Tall. Don’t arch your lower back. Keep your spine neutral. Chest up, shoulder-blades back & down, push your pelvis forward.

    - Squeeze Your Glutes. Increases the hip flexor stretch. Squeeze the glute of your back leg as hard as you can.
    Let me make a few scene-setting comments first. The hip flexors ('HF', psoas, rectus femoris and iliacus) are reciprocal inhibitors of the glutes. What this means is that, if in the first image above you are already in a HF stretch, it will be difficult, and impossible for some, to activate the glutes. Yet to make this effective, it needs to be done.

    I suggest using the cue "tuck the tail", BEFORE you get into the stretch, because this achieves two things: if you can posteriorly tilt the pelvis, then the HF effect will be enhanced AND the lumbar spine will be in a more neutral position—and a flexible person might even be able to achieve a degree of lumbar flexion. Why should we care?

    Because the extent to which you can activate the glutes is the extent to which you can enhance the effectiveness of this critical exercise, through positioning of the pelvis (as it tilts back, the rectus femoris attachment point moves away from the knee, increasing the stretch) and because activating the glutes reciprocally inhibits the HFs—a free bonus effect.

    Having taught literally thousands of athletes how to stretch these muscles, I want to note that, of all stretches, this one is the one the body can cheat in (hence avoiding the desired effects) the most easily. This is done by:

    1. letting the back leg's hip rotate away from the task—this means that another essential cue is to use the waist muscles to counter-rotate the pelvis in the opposite direction

    2. by letting the lumbar spine bend backwards is the next most common way of avoiding stretching the HFs. This can be avoided by tucking the tail before going into the stretch (and the interesting thing here is that, once tucked, with the attendant flattening of the lumbar spine, the pelvis position CAN be held, even against the reciprocal inhibition reflex).

    3. By letting the body incline forwards from the hips as you go deeper into the stretch.

    My last suggestion is to pulling yourself forwards deeper into the stretch by using the front leg's hamstrings to do that work.

    And you can improve whatever position you can get in to by trying to pull the back leg forward in an isometric contraction (the classic PNF approach), and restretching.

    That's enough for now. I will finish by offering an alternative stretch for the HFs, but one that needs a partner. There is a solo version on the same youtube channel. See here.

    If folks are interested, I will offer some suggestions for Riley's other exercises too. As a newbie here, I don't want to say too much too soon! cheers, kl
    Last edited by KItL; 03-25-2010 at 08:41 PM.

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    Question: I've read that it's not recommended to do (heavy) stretching before lifting. Is this true? Lately I've been stretching before Squats, as it seems to help with flexibility. I heard though that stretching will sort of temporarily weaken the muscle. Or is that just if you stretch too heavily? Thanks.
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    stretching weakening contraction forces

    Q. reply.

    There is no problem stretching ankles before squatting, and same with hips and lower back, if you want a deep bottom position.

    My recommendation is to do our flexibility work after squatting, to stretch out the muscles you have tightened (by squatting) and to improve your flexibility for the future. Stretching after a weight training session is when you will get the best effects (through heat in the muscles, and its effects on fascia). hth, kl

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    FWIW, here are my suggestions for money stretches:
    http://squatrx.blogspot.com/2009/04/...-strength.html

    Here are my thoughts on stretching (and a link to Lyle MacDonald's thoughts on pre-training stretching):
    http://squatrx.blogspot.com/2010/01/...g-is-dead.html
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  14. #14
    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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    Fixation, check out these articles on lower and upper body warm ups - http://www.wannabebig.com/cat/traini...nd-stretching/

    Theres a big difference between a warm up and stretching. I tend to use much of the warm up advice in these articles prior to training and then perform some static stretching after training.
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  15. #15
    Become Unbreakable Mark!'s Avatar
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    I feel 10x better when I stretch before working out, it's just sad I don't really focus on stretching more often. When I squat, my lower body feels great, but my shoulders and back and extremely tight and feel like crap for the first set of squats. I'm reading through the articles about dynamic, upper body stretching and shouldering through the shoulder pain articles, but does anyone have any quick tips or stretches they do for shoulders and upper back?
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