The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Its no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
    Senior Member BallsWideDeep's Avatar
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    Stretching Tight Hamstrings

    I recently did some Romanian deadlifts for the first time. I only did 225lbs. x 10, but I got an amazing stretch out of it. Three days later, the area above the back of my knee is still tender.

    Besides the obvious, keep doing Romanian deadlifts, what is the best way for a person to stretch their hamstrings by themselves? I am trying some straight back toe touches, but am very springy. That is to say I pop pack up after I push down.

    Also I have used the recommended leg and arm warm ups from Nick Tuminello off this site. I like them a lot, as they are quick, and the leg swings (while silly looking) have stopped me from over stretching my groin during squats. Is there some fast routine you can recommend of perhaps 5 stretches to do a day? Like a three minute morning thing.

    Thank you.

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  3. #2
    Rob Schilke | GFX Designer thecityalive's Avatar
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    I enjoy foam rolling followed up by assisted stretches I did at university track.
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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by thecityalive View Post
    I enjoy foam rolling followed up by assisted stretches I did at university track.
    This but I would add the mobility work the OP is talking about after the foam rolling and leave the stretching for after the work out.

    I have a serious issue with tight hamstrings, so I am also curious. I have stretched consistantly for 8 months along with mobility work and I havent noticed much of an improvement. I ussually hold my stretches for a minute. I was thinking about doing some more DC style stretching.
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  5. #4
    Grammar Nazi BG5150's Avatar
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    I found holding good mornings at the bottom of the movement gives my hammies a good stretch.
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  6. #5
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    Lie flat on your back and lift one leg straight in the air. Then pull your straight leg gently back towards your body with your hands. You can also get a towel and loop it around the top of your foot to pull it back if you have trouble reaching your legs. Then repeat with the other leg. It's a little intense if you have tight hammies.

    Stretching my hamstrings always makes my lower back feel awesome.
    Last edited by PhxdB; 07-01-2011 at 11:48 PM.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Meat_Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhxdB View Post
    Lie flat on your back and lift one leg straight in the air. Then pull your straight leg gently back towards your body with your hands. You can also get a towel and loop it around the top of your foot to pull it back if you have trouble reaching your legs. Then repeat with the other leg. It's a little intense if you have tight hammies.

    Stretching my hamstrings always makes my lower back feel awesome.
    Great post, a belt also works great for stretching the hammies in that manner.
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  8. #7
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    I'll only add that I'd question why you want to stretch your hamstrings. It won't likely help with the soreness. And if it's not causing problems with your lifts I'd leave em alone.

    Best bet is: dynamic warm-ups, full ROM resistance exercise, stretching/foam rolling after training.
    The foam rolling could maybe be done before training but that would be debatable.

    But basically what I'm getting at is stretching is very overrated.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Generally, the key w. hamstring stretches is to maintain an arched lumbar, bend the knees slightly, and hinge at the hips.
    http://squatrx.blogspot.com/2009/04/...-strength.html
    http://squatrx.blogspot.com/2010/11/...tretching.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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  10. #9
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fanelli View Post
    But basically what I'm getting at is stretching is very overrated.
    Overrated for what?
    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
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
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  11. #10
    Become Unbreakable Mark!'s Avatar
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    I would definitely say stretching has its place in most peoples workouts. I stretch before and sometimes after if I can stand up long enough. IT band stretching helps my ROM instead of just going right in to squats, along with GM stretches. I also use bands to stretch while laying on my back, I just feel tons better after getting some stretching in, instead of just going right in to the workout.
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  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    Overrated for what?
    Improving flexibility / injur prevention.

    The only time I really stretch BEFORE training is to "de-activate" a muscle thats overly tonic, ie" hip flexor stretches before workign posterior chain, or stretch chest before working upper back.


    Otherwise static stretching is best left for AFTER training and in that case its really just to cool down and relax. But thats just my opinions based on a lot of the research ive seen.

  13. #12
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fanelli View Post
    Improving flexibility / injur prevention.

    The only time I really stretch BEFORE training is to "de-activate" a muscle thats overly tonic, ie" hip flexor stretches before workign posterior chain, or stretch chest before working upper back.


    Otherwise static stretching is best left for AFTER training and in that case its really just to cool down and relax. But thats just my opinions based on a lot of the research ive seen.
    I'm sure I've read many of the same things you're reading Dan. The thing is, you hear all the time "stretching won't prevent injury", or "stretching ONLY helps you relax", or "DON'T stretch before training" - but my line of thinking is this (and I use "you" as the ambiguous pronoun here):

    *applied correctly, stretching feels good
    *applied correctly, stretching helps you relax
    *if it helps you relax, applied correctly, it will aid performance
    *if it helps you relax, applied correctly, it will help you recover
    *if it helps you relax, applied correctly, it will prevent injury

    Now, it ain't scientific, and we could nit-pick things and bring up other studies or articles we've read where such and such cited this or that, but those are the biggies, as I see them.
    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
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

  14. #13
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    Agreed, but that's a lot of IFs there.

    I'd still avoid things like stretching chest before bench or hamstrings before squat or deadlifts. The way I see it, is static stretching "turns off" muscles or as you put it "relaxes" them. You'd only want to do this in certain situations before training.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fanelli View Post
    Agreed, but that's a lot of IFs there.

    I'd still avoid things like stretching chest before bench or hamstrings before squat or deadlifts. The way I see it, is static stretching "turns off" muscles or as you put it "relaxes" them. You'd only want to do this in certain situations before training.
    What would you recommend for increasing flexibility aside from stretching? Lets say someone has tight glutes and long adductors and hip flexors and it's causing back problems from tilting the pelvis. What would you recommend in that case?
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  16. #15
    Rob Schilke | GFX Designer thecityalive's Avatar
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  17. #16
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fanelli View Post
    Agreed, but that's a lot of IFs there.

    I'd still avoid things like stretching chest before bench or hamstrings before squat or deadlifts. The way I see it, is static stretching "turns off" muscles or as you put it "relaxes" them. You'd only want to do this in certain situations before training.
    The only 'if' that matters is "If you know how to stretch properly". Anything done in the gym, done improperly can hurt you.
    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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  18. #17
    Senior Member Meat_Head's Avatar
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    Stretching the hammies, glutes and IT band FIXED my back, allowed me to squat again. It is important.
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  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meat_Head View Post
    Stretching the hammies, glutes and IT band FIXED my back, allowed me to squat again. It is important.
    This. I know stretching before training has been demonized lately since a couple of articles showed that it "over-relaxes" the muscles and results in you being weaker. It also makes a great article with new headlines of "stretching is bad, look at the research".

    However, most of the studies I have seen on the topic were stretching people RIGHT BEFORE (like stretch, then within 10 seconds go and lift). At that point the muscle was slightly weaker. However, a person who stretches, keeps warming up for 5 minutes, does a few warm up sets, and by the time they are actually lifting their working sets, I doubt they are feeling the weakening effects of stretching. None of the studies on static stretching are performed in a manner that a regular lifter would replicate in the gym.

    I, like a few others in this thread, can't seem to be properly loose to perform exercises like squats without significant static stretching beforehand. I strongly disagree with the articles that argue against stretching. Some people may not need to, and stretching afterwards is also important, but don't feel like you are going to be weaker just because you stretched.

  20. #19
    Senior Member BallsWideDeep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fanelli View Post
    I'll only add that I'd question why you want to stretch your hamstrings. It won't likely help with the soreness. And if it's not causing problems with your lifts I'd leave em alone.

    Best bet is: dynamic warm-ups, full ROM resistance exercise, stretching/foam rolling after training.
    The foam rolling could maybe be done before training but that would be debatable.

    But basically what I'm getting at is stretching is very overrated.
    Damn dude, you're blowing my mind. I never considered that stretching might be overrated. I figured it was a weakness in my game. I don't mind the soreness. I actually get a kick out of walking a little funny the next day. I just don't want to be 30, and not able to put my fist on the ground while standing.

    I do the dynamic warmup, full ROM, but I am bad about skipping SMR work. It is the first thing I skip. I use to have a Tiger Tail and 4" foam roller, but shipped them home to lighten my load.

    I just got back from Thailand. I wish our culture was as big in to (legitimate) massage as theirs. They study at the temples. For $6.50 you can get an hour long thai massage. It basically consist of assisted stretching, and very hard deep tissue work. Don't be fooled by the little 100lb girls. They will break you!

    I dated a Thai girl for a few weeks. She got home from her job one day, so I offered to rub her shoulders. I was damn near choking the bitch trying to get backup power for my thumbs. I'm not big, but I'm still 6'2 180lbs, and this girl was putting me to shame.

    Thanks for the replies. I will keep romanian deadlifting, try the towel trick, and get back to some foam rolling as time permits.
    Last edited by BallsWideDeep; 07-03-2011 at 09:26 AM.

  21. #20
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    @ Sensei - Of course the only "if" is if you know what you are doing and if you are doing it right.

    The problem is we DONT know what is "right". We can pretty safely say that if you avoid stretching a cold muscle and avoid balisstic stretching you are not going to hurt yourself, and it probably wont hurt your performance much either, but that doesn't means it "right" or beneficial.

    Im not completely up to date on the research, but I remember going through it a few years back, and a lot of studies were showing that if you want ANY improvements in flexiblity from static stretching it needs to be done for >30 minutes a day consistantly for at least 6 months.

    Its just my opinion that general static stretching is a very poor use of time, when you can get good results from a dynamic warm-up and then training through the full ROM wight weight.

    And again, if you need to static stretch something like hip flexors before/during your dynamic warm-up to allow full ROM then thats a different story.

    The only other real use I can see for static stretching would be individuals that have desk type jobs and are sitting all day. They should try to get up and walk around every 1-2 hours and lightly stretch muscles that are tightening up.

  22. #21
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    I think anyone that has to rehab from a knee injury or lower back pain understands the importance of static stretching.

    If you dont want to stretch before you workout, do it afterwards. I dont see anyway that could go wrong. Then again, I dont think unassisted static stretching is effective for most positions.

    Good thread!
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  23. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meat_Head View Post
    Stretching the hammies, glutes and IT band FIXED my back, allowed me to squat again. It is important.
    Can you elaborate on the process you followed?
    Quote Originally Posted by StormTheBeach View Post
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  24. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4g64fiero View Post
    I think anyone that has to rehab from a knee injury or lower back pain understands the importance of static stretching.
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  25. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fanelli View Post
    @ Sensei - Of course the only "if" is if you know what you are doing and if you are doing it right.

    The problem is we DONT know what is "right". We can pretty safely say that if you avoid stretching a cold muscle and avoid balisstic stretching you are not going to hurt yourself, and it probably wont hurt your performance much either, but that doesn't means it "right" or beneficial.

    Im not completely up to date on the research, but I remember going through it a few years back, and a lot of studies were showing that if you want ANY improvements in flexiblity from static stretching it needs to be done for >30 minutes a day consistantly for at least 6 months.

    Its just my opinion that general static stretching is a very poor use of time, when you can get good results from a dynamic warm-up and then training through the full ROM wight weight.

    And again, if you need to static stretch something like hip flexors before/during your dynamic warm-up to allow full ROM then thats a different story.

    The only other real use I can see for static stretching would be individuals that have desk type jobs and are sitting all day. They should try to get up and walk around every 1-2 hours and lightly stretch muscles that are tightening up.
    I have never heard of needing to stretch for 30 minutes to gain any muscle lengthening from static stretching.

    This article says 30 seconds is sufficient: The Effect of Time and Frequency of Static Stretching on Flexibility of the Hamstring Muscles. Physical Therapy October 1997 vol. 77 no. 10 1090-1096

    Also, throughout my entire physical therapy education we were taught that the best bang for you buck is with 30 seconds of stretching for muscle lengthening. I would hope a doctorate level education wouldn't be this off in supporting static stretching.

    I have noticed significant improvements personal for stretching my hip flexors for 30-60 seconds a day as well. About the only thing I would say static stretching is useless for is stretching the IT band. That baby is so stiff. Studies have hung weights to cadaver IT bands for days and barely gotten a couple of millimeters out of it. However, you still may get some success by lengthening the TFL.

  26. #25
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fanelli View Post
    @ Sensei - Of course the only "if" is if you know what you are doing and if you are doing it right.

    The problem is we DONT know what is "right". We can pretty safely say that if you avoid stretching a cold muscle and avoid balisstic stretching you are not going to hurt yourself, and it probably wont hurt your performance much either, but that doesn't means it "right" or beneficial.

    Im not completely up to date on the research, but I remember going through it a few years back, and a lot of studies were showing that if you want ANY improvements in flexiblity from static stretching it needs to be done for >30 minutes a day consistantly for at least 6 months.

    Its just my opinion that general static stretching is a very poor use of time, when you can get good results from a dynamic warm-up and then training through the full ROM wight weight.

    And again, if you need to static stretch something like hip flexors before/during your dynamic warm-up to allow full ROM then thats a different story.

    The only other real use I can see for static stretching would be individuals that have desk type jobs and are sitting all day. They should try to get up and walk around every 1-2 hours and lightly stretch muscles that are tightening up.
    We'll have to politely agree to disagree. You say that stretching is a poor use of warm-up time and it doesn't show any improvements in ROM, yet it makes sense to statically stretch the hip flexors? Seems you're saying that it is both 'right' and 'beneficial' and 'not right' and 'not beneficial' all at the same time. I'm not trying to straw man you - it just doesn't make sense to me that someone who would admit that static stretching is beneficial "here", might not be so obstinate "there"...

    Stretching, like isometrics, isolation exercises, eccentrics, etc. is one of those training babies that got thrown out with the bath water. The pendulum is swinging back however. People will realize that intelligent stretching is a safe way to explore new and regain lost range of motion. Static, PNF, even ballistic stretches all have their place.

    It's not a cure-all, certainly. No one is saying that. You have to know what you are doing but with minimal coaching/instruction, stretching is a safe and healthy activity, and is a tool that everyone should have in their fitness/S&C toolbox.

    JMO.
    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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