So how many of you show up early to class and do some stretching?
Gotta help open up those “tight” shoulders or hips to do well in the workout, right?
But, how long have you been stretching? For weeks? Months?
How long does it take, has it gotten longer?
Before you warm up, instead of getting to know a lacrosse ball better than your partner or your spouse ever will, or maybe getting a bit too wrapped up in using bands, let’s talk about muscle activation drills.
Well, what if I were to tell you that stretching before you workout is making you worse at working out? Weaker, less explosive, unable to keep up your pace, all these things can happen if you stretch for a long time before you workout. Long, relaxed stretches suppress your brain’s ability to tell your body or muscles that it’s go time, or at least, it’s about to be. It’s a relaxation method! Why would you want to relax and get all zen right before you’re about to crush a new personal best?
And please, don’t just take my word for it, take it from guys way smarter than I on this kind of thing:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22692125 and finally
So then how are you going to prepare yourself to workout if you can’t stretch?
How will you get rid of this “tight” feeling?
Well, to tell you the truth, that “tightness” is all just a projection from your brain. Your brain has intensity receptors, and when something feels “tight” or even painful, that’s your brain saying “Woah Woah Woah, we’re not doing that!” These kinds of pains and aches can sneak up on us, from years of how we naturally carry ourselves like our posture or our jobs, to how we’re built, some people being more prone to squat one way or another, or more likely to have an easier time activating certain muscles than others.
Here lies the heart of the issue for most of us: activation. We are used to activating only one chain of muscles in our body throughout our whole lives -- because no one ever sat us down as babies and told us about torque chains or imbalances or those fun kinds of things. So we go throughout our lives sub consciously working one major muscle over the other, over and over, for years to come until one day, suddenly, your shoulder/upper pec feels “tight.” And now here we are back at square one!
Now that we have an idea what the issue is, here’s how we’re going to fix it! Before you warm up, instead of getting to know a lacrosse ball better than your partner or your spouse ever will, or maybe getting a bit too wrapped up in using bands, let’s talk about muscle activation drills. These drills will get your muscles fired up, especially ones you’ve probably not employed in a long time, aka, your whole life, and get your body in the “mood” to work out. Think of it as preheating the stove before you try to bake something or letting your car warm up before you get in and drive.