T Nation

questions about stretching

what an awesome article!
in the last few months after a couple of groin strains during the lacrosse season I’ve lost flexability - I used to be able to do the (easy) splits now I can just about touch my toes!
due to not having enough time for a whole-body stretching routine every day, I was thinking of compromising with a 30-45min/day; 6day/wk routine with each muscle group being stretched 3 times per wk.

On the advice of Thib, Im now waiting for the postman to give me a compex sport 400 EMS doohickey (woo!) - which claims to have a “stretching” program, aiming to “optimise effects of voluntary stretching, by means of a reduction of muscular tonus obtained by specific activation of the antagonist of the streched muscle (reciprocal inhibition reflex)” which sounds like the CRAC method Cantazaro discussed. however my understanding of PNF is that there is a 6-8sec contraction of the agonist (the muscle being stretched) before it is further stretched… does anyone know where the antagonist comes into this?
Also I’d love to hear some examples of stretches so I can kick high (yeah I dont “know kung-fu” but i wanna do the kick-arse van-damme move where he holds a high kick and gestures for the opponents to come-get-some! respect for male ballet dancers!) and stretches so I could get back in the splits soon.
With regards to form for stretching, how long (in seconds) should we take over easing into the stretch to prevent firing of the myostatic strech reflex?
I remember from T-mags fantastic article on stretching for hypertrophy that optimal stretch time is circa 30 seconds, how does this tie in to the reccomendations of AIS? - is AIS like PNF in that the athlete will be unable to achieve the extreme met during stretching, but will have increased his flexibility?
Perhaps my questions will be answered in part 2, god knows “stretching” is the new “free weights or machines” - incidentaly I recall some studies in military recruits concluding that stretching was not a valid injury prevention intervention, while warmup was (p>=0.05).
Does anyone else have questions about stretching? or have any info that I should know before embarking on this daring program to get my leg over (my own head)?
With any luck after my exams in a couple of months I’ll be getting down to some hardcore training; goin’ TURBO max steel stylee with the EMS jobby; and will have my stretching program sorted by then, if y’all seem interested I’ll post it on here then.
Criticisms and abuse are also more than welcome - does anyone think only stretching a muscle group 3times/wk is a fundemental flaw? like I said I’ve got exams coming up and dont have time yet to search pub med and go through my textbooks for help (although I will be re-reading sports sup review 3rd edt’n, which has an interview with Tobjorn Akerfeldt by Bill Phillips! (Tobjorn came up with Anabolic Burst Cycling, as well as the joys of stretching the endo & perimesiums (sp?))


just another question I forgot to flag up… how does easing gently into the stretch to prevent firing of the myostatic strech reflex tie in with only maintaining the stretch for a couple of seconds to prevent the inverse stretch reflex from holding the stretch back?
also, Tsatsouline’s comment seems to me to make perfect sense, and the 2-second-rule maintain its validity, taken in conjunction with Tobjorn’s thoughts… like, our comerade can’t get into a full split because the endomesium & perimesium aren’t saggy enough, not because of the inverse stretch reflex.
(There are ‘connective sheets’ surrounding the individual muscle fibers [endomysium], bundles of muscle cells [perimysium], and the entire muscle [epimysium]. These sheets can be thought of as a series of ‘bags’ acting to conduct the contractile force generated by actin and myosin in muscle fibers to the bone, by the tendon. Millward postulated that bag filling and enlargement may increase muscle development [DJ Millward, “The Endocrine response to dietary protein: the anabolic drive on growth,” Milk Protein (1989) : 49-61.]. These bags have minimum elasticity, at least compared with the cell membranes they enclose, so they’ll actually inhibit muscle growth - they may be thought of as very tight ‘girdles’ that prevent the expansion of the tissue. By stretching them, I can help promote anabolism. Also, to some extent, the anabolic state of muscle fiber depends on its state of hydration, which is secondary to the amount of osmotic substances in the cells ? such as sodium, potassium, creatine, proteins, glycogen, and free amino acids like glutamine [D. H?ussinger, ?The Role of Cellular Hydration in the Regulation of cell function,? Biochem. J. 313 (1996):697-710.]. A cell will literally swell to fill the entire space of its connective tissue compartment.)

shit sorry one more thing (lol sorry!)

does anyone know the protocal for Tobjorn’s SPIDER?

and does anyone know any easy ways to get a copy of Parillo’s article before I go writing crazy-mad stetchorific programs?

ok so thats two but your all lovely, i’m sure you can find it in your hearts to forgive me!

ooookay no one cares about being hugely flexible

Stretching just to increase range of motion means absolutely nothing. Stretching to have a greater range of motion and ALSO gaining strength in that range of motion is whats important. Lifting weight does this sufficiently if the entire range of motion of a weight lifting movement is used.

regarding time under tension for pnf its dependent on fiber makeup and current muscle tone, as well as your desire to compromise non-contrictile components

If you wish to do van damme type side kick HELD at head level then its not just flexibility you need but good isometric strength at that ROM. Ballet dancers pratice for hours to gain this type of strength. Its a lot harder than it looks!

heh thx for the response :slight_smile:
gonna try n find more out about PNF TUT &muscle fibre makeup!