The Best Stretch You Can Do!
T. Elliott Field
Oftentimes, I am asked or hear athletes talking about stretching/mobilizing/positioning. I have decided to come up with an easy answer to the question, what is the best stretch? The best stretch you can do…drum roll… is the one that you consistently do for six months. Just stretch and keep stretching. Every day.
Doing the “best” stretch for 20-30 seconds per day twice a week will have 2-minute results. Try practicing how to play the piano for two minutes per week and let me know how long it takes you to learn to play a song. It takes hours upon hours to learn to play the piano; likewise, it takes the same amount of effort and dedication to maximize your range of motion and get the most out of mobilizing your body.
With that said, even if you perform some not-so-great stretches or even “basic, boring” stretches, as long as you’re not hurting yourself, you will make improvements.
A big theme that I have noticed within the MobilityWOD and ROMWOD channels is that it is a game of volume and consistency…not specificity. It is about hitting specific ranges of motion and not necessarily doing the “best” stretch.
The fundamentals are truly basic. Want a deeper squat? Hang out in the bottom of the squat position two times a day. See some improvement? Add a third time. No longer seeing improvements? Try adding another stretch or adding a little weight to the stretch.
It takes a VERY long time for your body to adapt your soft tissue to what you’re trying to do to it (age also affects time). Allow yourself to make these adaptations over a long period time and be patient. Oftentimes, trying to get the “quick fix” can lead to poor results or even injury. In fact, rushing into a position without proper time for adaptation could easily lead to injury. For example, if you hammer your shoulders for 20 minutes while trying to get a better overhead position that you have never had before, it is more than likely that your nervous system and your muscular system have had very little experience stabilizing in that position. Now add 100+ pounds of weight and what do you get? Injury or many failed lifts.
The mobilizing that we do in class is a temporary mobilization; it is used to help perform the work listed. It may help newer individuals become more mobile at first, but if you’re an experienced “exerciser,” you’ll need to be hitting those positions multiple times a day to illicit any sort of adaptation or change. So, yeah. Go stretch
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