The Definitive Guide to Stretching

Table of Contents

Part 1 – An Overview & Effects on Performance
Follow Up – When is Performance Decrement Acceptable?
Part 2 – Neuromechanics of Stretching
Dynamic Mobility in Practice
Part 3 – Autonomics and Stretching
Low-hanging Fruit for Recovery


Part 1 – An Overview & Effects on Performance

Stretching has been a part of the rehab and performance world since the beginning, but various groups of rehab and performance specialists still disagree on whether it is good, bad, or ugly. In this video series we are going to get to the bottom of things and answer the follow questions:

  • What is physiology behind stretching? (I mean ALL OF THE PHYSIOLOGY)
  • Does stretching prevent injury?
  • How does stretching impact performance?
  • What effect does stretching have on the autonomic nervous system?
  • Does stretching have change motor systems?
  • Does stretching alter myofibers? What about connective tissue?

In Part 1 of this series we will take a look at all of the physiologic “players” we need account for, have a brief overview of the various types of stretching, and talk about acute effects of stretching on performance.

 

For an overview on how stretching affects performance, see [27:00].

For the bullet point conclusions, see [28:28].

Back to Table of Contents.


Follow Up – When is Performance Decrement Acceptable?

by Lance Goyke

Brandon is absolutely right. Research tells us that most stretching decreases performance.

But people still do it. Why?

Because performance isn’t the only thing people care about.

 

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Part 2 – Neuromechanics of Stretching

In part 1, we outlined all of the “players” that need to be looked at to determine what type of stretching might be good and when.

In part 2, we start diving into the neural players. Everything from how motor neurons ability to communicate with muscle is altered; to how the brain’s perception might be shifted. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how much of a nerd you are), there’s just too much neuroscience to fit it all in one video, so we’ve saved the autonomic nervous system for part 3.

 

Here’s the Power of Proprioception, the first video Brandon did for IFAST University.

The Power of Proprioception: Coaching tips for dealing with fatigue and injury

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Dynamic Mobility in Practice

by Lance Goyke

Brandon went through a lot of great points about what we’re actually changing in stretching. Remember that there are both (a) structural and (b) neural changes occurring.

“While change in structural tissues may account for some changes in passive tension and range of motion, neural mechanisms account for altered motor unit properties and outputs.” – Brandon Brown

Remember that excess stretching can decrease cortical excitability. That’s why we here at IFASTU try to shy away from longer duration stretching unless we have a really good reason to keep it.

So what does this look like in practice?

Would you like a dynamic warm up you can use right out of the box?

This is my go-to warm up for nearly every client. Even the more sensitive, chronic pain type people usually get something like this. I always warm up the whole body because I believe in holistic fitness and that everything in the body is connected.

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Part 3 – Autonomics & Stretching

Whether you have to run from the lions roaming around your favorite city (there’s a book reference in there for you all you nerds), or you throw a barbell on your back, the autonomic nervous system starts coordinating physiology to get you out alive… or to hit a new PR. Cardiac output increases, blood flow is redirected to the active skeletal muscles, blood pressure increases, and your “lizard brain” takes over.

What about the opposite?

If we think about yoga, pilates, or other forms of exercise that are stretch-heavy, many people find them relaxing. In this video we will dig into the “rest and digest” side of the autonomic nervous system, and figure out if it is altered by stretching, and how we might use that to our advantage.

 

Back to Table of Contents.


Low-hanging Fruit for Recovery

by Lance Goyke

Autonomics can be a tricky thing to navigate. Does this client need to turn it up, i.e. increase sympathetics? Or do they need to chill out, i.e. parasympathetics?

Stretching can be good for shifting a client towards a more parasympathetic state. But if this “recovery” is the goal, is there something else you can do? Surely stretching isn’t some magic solution to all of your problems, right?

In this video, we’ll goes through all of the easy-to-reach pieces of the recovery puzzle. Specifically, most of the time is spent on sleep because that usually leaves the biggest room for improvement.

 

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Stay tuned. There’s more to come!

Have any questions you want answered in the coming videos? Leave a comment below.

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