Functional flexibility: being able to achieve a range of motion that your muscles drive you into, and can get you out of, (not as pictured). Passive stretching to reach an extreme range of motion causes problems on your joints, tendons, and ligaments because you’re using external means (absent of muscle contractions) to do so. Since you didn’t utilize any muscle to reach that ROM, your body has to lever off of a joint to get you out of it. Like gravity just dumping your body (and your joints) wherever it wants to and then you have to figure out how to get out of that position because your body (muscles) didn’t actually do anything to get you there.
The fact of the matter is that your muscles are designed to lengthen (stretch) and then shorten (contract) and continue through this reciprocal function to produce movement. When you hold a stretch position you disrupt your muscles elasticity and they lose their ability to recoil (shorten/contract). So when we train clients to exercise correctly and recognize what a muscle contraction feels like, they use the contraction to move their body into a range for a few seconds and then they use the same muscles, differently, to move out of that range, and repeat for reps. With this intention, they’re building strength in one chain of muscle, while the opposing chain is stretching.
This allows the body to reach a safe range of motion without strain because when the muscle contraction disappears, you know you’ve reached a range of motion your body isn’t ready for. Never mind the stretch, remember if one muscle is contracting another is stretching. So focus on the contraction and the stretch will come along for the ride.
Evolve the way you “stretch” your muscles
We condition muscles, along with the fascia that surrounds them, to lengthen and shorten through an entire rep. Thus we are stretching and exercising all in one move
The benefit to this simultaneous coordination is that the muscles are preserving their elasticity (ability to elongate and then recoil to their original position) which is key to moving well and without joint damage.
We know that flexibility is important to overall function, but the way we push extreme ranges of motion in a static stretching position (pictured) is damaging this function of your muscles. The range of motion achieved in a pose does not automatically translate to improved flexibility when you’re actively using your muscles to move.
That’s why we train the kinetic chain to actively contract (shorten) and then stretch (lengthen) muscles while the body is moving. Then we improve flexibility by gently testing the spectrums of available range of motions that the body is capable of getting into and then out of, using the muscles. This is important because the body can achieve a range of motion (sometimes forced and painful as in a deep stretch, other times accidentally just by moving the wrong way) from the force of gravity alone. So instead of leaving ranges of motion to chance, we teach the muscles how to guide and control those ranges.
The exercises we utilize are built around the core staying engaged, while the surrounding muscles go through their series of contractions and stretches. A basic explanation of a more effective way to “stretch” while still respecting the functions of the human body.
Your body needs to have the ability to rotate through all planes of motion while your muscles are controlling the range of movement.
When the body has to stay stiff to activate muscles, and it comes time to bend, turn, change directions, etc., it’s going to put torque in the joints because the muscles can’t activate to support the body in those ranges of motion.
You want to train your body to be strong, yet pliable, in multiple ranges and varying scenarios. That can’t happen working exclusively on machines and 1-dimensional exercises.
Contact us today to start teaching your body how to move, correctly, through multidimensional exercises that build your body for a multiplanar world.