*Originally written for the Boulder Triathlon Club as part of their monthly newsletter
Over the past few years, research has shown the adverse effects of static stretching prior to working out. We grew up thinking and being told flexibility was a good thing, and the best way to attain that was by putting our bodies through a stretching routine before we exercised. However, flexibility is relative to your biomechanics and activity preference. If you were a gymnast or kung fu master, you would rely heavily on having flexible and pliable tissue to torque your body in a wide variety of positions. However, as endurance athletes, we need to have some tension through our tissue to create joint stability, as well as elastic momentum to propel us forward (like the recoil of a stretched rubberband). Too much or imbalanced tension is obviously an issue that can create strain on the muscle/tendon/ligament, but too little tension or too much flexibility can create instability of the joint.
Now, where does static stretching fall into the realm of proper joint mobility and right amount of flexibility without compromising the stability? Personally, I think in most situations you can do without static stretching as it tends to fatigue the tissue. But, if you feel the need to incorporate some aspect of this component into your training program, the best time would be after your easy sessions. The problem with static stretching (meaning holding a stretch for a period of 30seconds to a minute) is that it can reduce eccentric (lengthening) strength and peak force of the muscles for up to 60 minutes following the stretch; you need some tension in your muscles to optimize the elastic component of the tissue during the workout, and by placing a static stretch on tissue that is not already engaged or prepared for that component, the body’s muscle spindles will reflexively activate to resist the stretch. So, the body can actually become tighter as a protective mechanism when static stretching is performed. Therefore easier effort days would be, in my opinion, the only time to do some sort of static stretching, following your workout, as these days recovery and flexibility should be the goal, not muscle tension for performance optimization. Prior to workouts (regardless of intensity and duration) and before/after harder and longer effort days, a dynamic routine should be implemented to properly engage and activate the tissue while minimizing the effect the stretch reflex can have.
What do I mean by a dynamic warm-up? I typically recommend a series of lunges called the lunge matrix (from Coach Jay Johnson, developed by physical therapist Gary Gray) followed by a series of leg swings prior to any exercise. A lunge, although inherently a strength exercise, is a terrific stimulus to activate all the muscle of the leg prior to working out. Additionally, drills such as skipping, bounding, body squats, side walking, backwards walking/running, mountain climbers, and karaokes are all examples of dynamic exercises to get the legs prepared for the demands of your workouts.
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It’s been a while since my last blog post and part of that is because I have been consumed with the fall cross country season. This year was my first as the head coach of the Peak to Peak cross country team in Lafayette, Co. It was a pretty exciting season that saw the boy’s team qualify for the state meet placing 12th overall (after finishing second in our region, they were 5th last year) with a ridiculous 25 second pack time, as well as one girl (who had never run cross country before) qualify individually and place 53rd overall. One of the biggest aspects of our training this season was the addition of a number of ancillary routines pre and post-workout with each having a specific purpose or goal. One of those routines is what I called the hip mobility progression. I picked this up from Coach Jay Johnson (he calls it the cannonball cooldown)and modified it for the purpose of making it a mobility routine. The reason I modified his original routine was some of the exercises in the original routine I would consider strength work (which we do in some of the other routines) rather than strictly mobility and because there would be instances when time becomes an issue, so I try to limit each routine to under 5 minutes to make sure we can get in the desired work. The routine that our team does is 20 reps on each leg in the following order: iron cross, scorpions, active straight leg raise, groiners, and hurdle rolls (or hurdle seat exchange from the video). Why do we do this? I look at this routine as a series of exercises to open up the hip capsule while creating dynamic flexibility in the surrounding tissues. Depending on the exercise being performed, there is a certain level of eccentric loading taking place on the hip flexors, hamstring, adductors, quads, and lumbar paraspinals. Additionally, the various exercises help prevent the hip capsule from getting impinged (that can occur during running) while avoiding over-stretching (that can happen during a static stretch where the surrounding muscles are relaxed, reducing their protective control over the joint). We would do this routine about 3 x’s/ week, typically after harder workouts or long runs, as a way to flush the tissue out. As I told Jay, of all the routines that we do, this is the one that I feel had the greatest effect in helping to keep the kids healthy throughout the season. It should also be noted, that I have given this routine to patients in practice who have experienced anterior hip impingement, excessive hamstring tightness, Psoas or Quad overactivity, and TFL/Glut Med/ITB tightness.
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Posted in General on February 12, 2010 |
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High Altitude Spine & Sport uses an athletic mindset when approaching our patients’ needs and goals for treatment. Our focus is to get you healthy as quickly as possible while addressing the biomechanical imbalances that led to the initial injury in an effort to prevent reoccurrence. Many athletes experience injuries that easily could have been avoided while others aren’t able to continue playing because their injuries don’t respond to traditional healthcare. Then there are those that aren’t necessarily injured, but whose bodies are functioning inefficiently preventing them from getting the most out of their ability. At High Altitude Spine & Sport, our Sports Chiropractic approach provides you with the tools you need to help you perform at your best. We use a variety of techniques to address the body’s overall function so that each of the body’s systems can interact efficiently to provide an optimal environment for injury healing, tissue recovery, and optimal performance. During our exam, we not only look at the area of complaint, but we will address any biomechanical imbalances that may be contributing to the injury to help decrease the risk of further injury. We don’t treat just the symptoms, we look for and treat the source of the problem. Each patient is treated as an individual and their injury management is tailored specifically for their body’s needs. Although we take an athletic approach to treatment, this does not mean we only cater to athletes. We use that mindset create a dynamic environment for each patient’s condition. Whether you injury is result of motor vehicle accident, a work-related problem, or any other activity, we focus our attention on helping your body take back its health. Stop living with pain, let High Altitude Spine & Sport be your guide to optimal health and wellness. Call Us today at 303-829-1040 to make an appointment.
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Posted in General on February 11, 2010 |
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Thought I would give this blog thing a try. What’s the goal of my writing posts? Simply put, to help educate. I am a chiropractor and I understand that with that title comes the stigma surrounding the profession. But, all I ask is that you look past the negative connotations surrounding the general term chiropractic and understand that the new generation of sports chiropractors are going to help revolutionize the way sports injury evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation is practiced. So time to jump off my soap box and back to the purpose of this blog. I am a fan of all thing sport but am a distance runner and track geek by nature. So most of what I talk about on this blog will relate to the biomechanics, physiology, nutritional components, and training aspects relating to distance running and endurance sports. Occasionally though, I promise to post items related to other sports, chiropractic, soft tissue treatment, etc. So if there is something you would like to know, please tell me. If I don’t know the answer off hand, I will research it to till my head is about explode to provide you with the best and most thorough answer I can. Hope you enjoy what I have to offer!
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