Login with Facebook
 ADVANCED
Can you actually improve your flexibility?
View Latest Posts in This Forum or All Forums
   Page 2 of 2.  <<First   <Prev   1  2
Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
 
 
By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 21, 2012
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suck...
David Horgan wrote:
Hi Aerili... So on the "sumo squats", nothing inherently lethal about them, just the usual cautions that would apply to any exercise (ease into it in terms of how much resistance to use, warm up beforehand, allow adequate recovery time, use controlled form instead of gunning it for that "one last rep", etc)? Also, on that stretching link that you sent: how much time to hold the stretches and how often to do them? Aka, what do you think is the minimum number of sessions per week that would end up being beneficial? Thanks again, David

Sorry for the delay... I have a hard time forcing myself to stare at a computer screen longer than necessary indoors these days.

Deep squats may be more likely to crush meniscus in knees, especially under high loads. That said, Olympic lifters go into deep squats routinely with high loads (but typically start the position unloaded and dynamically move into a standing position quickly under load).

I do not believe there is any "for sure" consensus on how long to hold a stretch. This link has some good info written by an apparent physical therapist who seems to know her stuff.

I seemed to have permanently lengthened my right hip external rotators many years ago. I was stretching them consistently throughout the day, day in and day out, for a long time. I did this because I was suffering persistently from some piriformis syndrome issues (neurological down my leg, a lot of pain). This stretch helped the symptoms temporarily, so I was doing them constantly. That hip's range of motion seems to have been permanently altered, even though I rarely do those stretches anymore.

FLAG
By ElyseSokoloff
From Spokane, WA
Sep 22, 2012
Hi, Marissa!!!! You're in SLC now?

FLAG
By Brian Adzima
From San Francisco
Sep 23, 2012
somewhere in WV
RockyMtnTed wrote:
exactly.... I cant believe that is even a question.


I remember being mocked by my kindergarten teacher for not being able to touch my toes. Flash forward 20 years, and I took several yoga classes 2/3 days a week for three years. At the end I learned alot, but I still could not touch my toes.

My lack of flexibility is a problem <0.1% of the time climbing. I can usually do all, or more of the high steps, stems, or feet over hands stuff than my friends.

FLAG
By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 24, 2012
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suck...
ElyseSokoloff wrote:
Hi, Marissa!!!! You're in SLC now?

Yep... check my Facespace if you want details. :)

FLAG
By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Oct 15, 2012
Yes - you can improve your flexibility. The better question to ask yourself is why you seem to think its related to flexibility, and not strength. These are the two best books I've ever read on the subject:

Stretching Scientifically: Thomas Kurz

Relax Into Stretch: Pavel Tsatsouline

FLAG
By Optimistic
From New Paltz
Oct 15, 2012
S.Stelli wrote:
Yes - you can improve your flexibility. The better question to ask yourself is why you seem to think its related to flexibility, and not strength. These are the two best books I've ever read on the subject: Stretching Scientifically: Thomas Kurz Relax Into Stretch: Pavel Tsatsouline


Thanks for those book recommendations, S!

The reason I think that flexibility is an issue for me is because when I go to do particular moves, especially those involving high steps, I encounter a huge amount of resistance in my hips and hamstrings, which means that I tend to end up with my center of gravity way off the rock during those moves, and waste a lot of power as a result.

Also, while I'm certainly not crazy strong, I think I'm strong enough for the grade I'm currently struggling at, which is 5.10. Several of my partners are clearly not as strong as I am, but climb quite a bit harder nonetheless because they can use the strength they have much more efficiently, both because of good flexibility and (more importantly) better footwork.

As an objective measure of how inflexible I am, by the way: whereas some people can bend at the waist and touch their toes...I can touch my knees. That CAN'T be an asset on the rock, I'm pretty sure.

FLAG
By kenr
Oct 16, 2012
I'd still like to know lots more about "schedule" of stretching -- how long, how often. My focus is only for hip turh-out (? "transverse hip abduction" ?) - for getting my body closer to the rock for balancy face moves.
And a schedule with some sort of scientific justification. Currently I'm doing 5 minutes of face down frog-like stretch up to 3 times per day, with some of that enhanced by additional weight on my lower back.

So I'm eager to get my hands on that first book. In the mean time ...
  • the link a web page suggested 30-60 seconds, which seems way too short compared to what I'm doing.

  • one authority quoted in that NYTimes article above suggests you need like hours a day to achieve lasting results in actually lengthening a complex of muscles + tendons.

  • My rehab program for my strained calf muscle had me wearing a special device for holding the muscle in a stretched position while I was sleeping.
(Not seeing how I'd do hip-turnout while I'm sleeping)

Problem is that most of the "scientific" results that get into the press are about whether stretching improves running performance or if it prevents injuries - (not my concern).

Thanks for any more leads.

Ken

FLAG
By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 16, 2012
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suck...
kenr wrote:
I'd still like to know lots more about "schedule" of stretching -- how long, how often. ... And a schedule with some sort of scientific justification. ... * My rehab program for my strained calf muscle had me wearing a special device for holding the muscle in a stretched position while I was sleeping. (Not seeing how I'd do hip-turnout while I'm sleeping)


Like I already stated, it is not really known. That is your answer (as much as it sucks). But my impression is that stretching longer has never been shown to be better than shorter time intervals repeated frequently. As for putting you in a boot at night to keep a muscle lengthened, that's for a totally different reason and isn't really relevant to increasing flexibility in healthy tissues which are already likely to be within a "normal" range of motion.

FLAG
 
By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Oct 16, 2012
Can you place your foot flat on a chair with your hip turned outwards as if you were doing a high step facing the rock? (Think: Captain Morgan!) Do it - and if the top of your thigh is at least parralel with the ground then flexibility isn't much of an issue for that high step move...

How you GET your foot to that position is almost always a matter of coordination and strength. Your hips need to be able to pull the entire weight of your leg up and rotate it out, and maintain balance and control ... it all adds up to a difficult task if say your hip flexors are really weak.

As far as touching your toes... from what I can tell you need to address your hamstring and entire posterior chain STRENGTH just as much as your flexibility. You may think that is a weird thing to say, but a strong muscle will allow more range of movement than a weak muscle. It's something built into our nervous systems to protect our soft tissues from being pulled "too far". But you can reset this length to a certain extent, and allow more ROM.

I once couldn't touch past my knees with my legs straight, either. I started to do deadlifts and romanian deadlifts to strengthen my hamstrings and my glutes and lower back, and I was able to gain a few inches of movement from that alone. I also attacked my hamstrings with various yoga poses (also adding strength) but the yoga poses also gently stretched me out, and reset my nervous system to allow more range of movement over time. This all improved my static stretching range of movement. I also added in a lot of dynamic (read martial arts practice) to my routines as well and gained dynamic ROM. Together my static ROM, dynamic ROM, and strength all increased. Now I can easily bend at my hips and touch my toes without warming up at all. If I warm up properly I can almost "kiss" my own knees. Maintaining this level of flexibility takes me about 90 seconds a week, but getting here took me about 2 years of off and on training.

The BEST thing you can do to address any functional flexibility issue is to take your time, and DONT ever force it. Be sure to adress muscle imbalances and overall strength.

Also - if you can only read one of the two books I recommended - read the one by Pavel. He will open your eyes.

FLAG
By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Oct 16, 2012
Aerili wrote:
Like I already stated, it is not really known. That is your answer (as much as it sucks). But my impression is that stretching longer has never been shown to be better than shorter time intervals repeated frequently. As for putting you in a boot at night to keep a muscle lengthened, that's for a totally different reason and isn't really relevant to increasing flexibility in healthy tissues which are already likely to be within a "normal" range of motion.


Aerili is right. No one can agree upon any "scientifically" proven method for stretching. The main reason is that there are too many variables, and not enough properly done studies.

None-the-less... it is possible to get more flexible, unless you are already at your genetic and physcial limit.

Teaching martial arts for a few years allowed me a few of my own non-scientifically proven observances:

For one thing, no amount of static stretching is going to allow you to kick above your head if your body is unable to cope with the speed generated (i.e. dynamic movement and strength in opposing muscles to slow or stop the movement)

Another thing - like Aerili alludes to above, you have to commit to train yourself to be more flexible. But you can't expect to do the full split if you try to do a full split for 2 hours straight one day, and then not try again for a week because you tried WAY too hard for one day. It has to be a gentle, daily thing! But it doesn't have to be hours and hours every day.

Often times we are told to warm up, then static stretch, then do our "workout" or task, then cooldown and do more static stretching. After watching very flexible children do this 2 and three days a week and ALL of them losing a certain amount of flexibility after several months, I've realized that this method isn't exactly ideal. After reading several (lots) of books regarding flexibility, I figured that because muscles are weakened by static stretching for a period of time after the stretch (actually scientifically proven), that putting any kind of static stretch before you do your workout actually limits the effectiveness of your workout. And since my students workout was almost entirely a display of dynamic movements, they were actually hindering thier bodies ability to cope/adapt/perform dynamic movements!

Once I had that realization, I stopped having the kids do static stretches after thier warmups. Instead we performed all the dynamic movements the workout was going to entail, but we performed them at what I called "50%". Slower, more controlled but still dynamic. It was amazing that all of the kids actually gained flexibility and were performing better than ever. It was a case of providing the wrong stimulus for the desired outcome. Static stretching doesn't equal dynamic flexibility and vice versa.

If you know what you want for your outcome, you have to perform what works to get you towards that goal... and if you aren't making progress then you need to recognize that, and try something else. Isn't that sort of the scientific method anyways?

FLAG
By kenr
Nov 4, 2012
S.Stelli wrote:
Yes - you can improve your flexibility. The better question to ask yourself is why you seem to think its related to flexibility, and not strength. These are the two best books I've ever read on the subject: Stretching Scientifically: Thomas Kurz Relax Into Stretch: Pavel Tsatsouline

I bought the book
Stretching Scientifically (4th edition), by Thomas Kurz (www.Stadion.com 2003)
Very impressed -- Thanks a lot for recommmending it.

Lots of good specific ideas. Also says what sports + situations that stretching is _not_ good for, and what stretches _not_ to do.

Very careful about the difference between flexibility and strength. Very careful about describing different possible ways to combine the two.
Also gets into the "neural" aspects of stretching in a way that makes sense to me.

Focus mainly on gymnastics + martial arts (nothing specific about climbing).

Does have a helpful review of the scientific literature. I wish it were more detailed, but I assume most readers don't care. Basically it confirms earlier comments in this discussion thread: that there just is not that much careful scientific research on stretching relevant to how to train for climbing.

The author draws what practical implications he can from the scientific research - (over-confidently I would say) - and from his experience with east European coaching.

In answer to the OP topic question:
This author thinks improving flexibility is straightforward - (though hip flexibility takes the longest) - and that flexibility is about the easiest ingredient to acquire for high-level gymnastics or martial-arts performance.

Ken

FLAG
By A.Javi.Gecko
From San Diego, CA
Nov 4, 2012
V3, Castle Hill, NZ
I definitely believe one can improve flexibility, or conversely lose it, it all depends on the habits you form. For instance, back in the day I did tons of martial arts (e.g. 5-8hrs per week for 9 years) and I could do a full split. Unfortunately for my flexibility, I then decided to take up running and after 3 years of 60 to 80 miles a week, split powers disappeared.

Since then, I've taken up yoga and regained some of my flexibility but it requires patience, experimenting with different styles and intention. Patience because its quite easy to over-stretch and get injured if you get too ego-tastic with your yoga practice, experimentation because there are many different teachers and yoga styles that focus on different things (e.g. Bikram wants to turn yoga into a competition, Vinyasa is to build strength and strong breathing and Yin is generally to restore balance between your Yin/Yang energy). For me, yoga has helped my focus as a climber, my flexibility and my antagonist muscles to make me an over-all stronger climber.

Basically, you've gotta find something that A) works for you and B) you enjoy enough to make routine since flexibility is linked to faschia (sp?) and improves incrementally over time. To understand this, we must consider the anatomy of faschia, tiny networks of fibers that are deposited day after day. According to a friend of mine who took some dissection classes, new faschia are like butter and can be disintegrated with very little effort. However, old faschia are like ropes, layers and layers that take a long time to wear down and thats why, if you don't stretch much, initially stretching can be incredibly painful (and dangerous if done improperly).

Finally, on top of the faschia business is your mental attitude. I've talked to yogis and performance artists who've told me that , under anesthesia, almost everyone has the flexibility of a gymnast because their mind isn't keeping their muscles tense and I've certainly experienced this. For instance I broke my ankle a year ago and every time I stretch it, I have to breath out and let go of my stress for it to move past the position that it was force into by being in a cast for 2 months. The ankle is no longer broken but the my mental need to "protect it" keeps it from regaining its proper range of motion. This applies to your entire body, especially big muscles which take a long time to relax. The best advice I have is

1) stretch warm

2) investigate proper techniques, and many of them

3) keep at it and enjoy it (think of it as training, it takes time)

4) breathe and remember to stop letting your mind limit your matter.

5) stretch at the crag. I do it every time I climb and that 15-20 minutes helps build routine/ warm you up for those high-steps :)

FLAG
By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 6, 2012
A.Javi.Gecko wrote:
Finally, on top of the faschia business is your mental attitude. I've talked to yogis and performance artists who've told me that , under anesthesia, almost everyone has the flexibility of a gymnast because their mind isn't keeping their muscles tense and I've certainly experienced this.


While you are alluding to one of the many ways to increase your range of motion, I don't think you are giving the right impression.

You are certainly NOT going to be able to increase ROM just by simply forcing your mental state to be more flexible. The reason people under anesthesia are "flexible" is not because their mind is or isn't involved, it's because skeletal muscle under certain types of anesthesia is controlled by neuromuscular blocking agents. They use neuromuscular blocking agents so your arm doesn’t suddenly fly up in the air when the doctor is cutting you open. In effect blocking the body's ability to respond with a neuromuscular event (movement).

It is however very true that during a static stretch for instance you can increase your ROM slightly by providing your body a relaxation period or state. Read about PNF stretching for insight. I think this type of relaxation idea is what you are referring to with your ankle issues...

This increase is usually very slight, and not permanent. If however you strive to do this type of stretching say for 20 or 30 or more stretching sessions over a long period of time THEN you can gradually and incrementally improve your ROM more appreciably. It is a gentle and time consuming process. One that cannot be forced, and if you do you will either injure yourself or create backward progress.

FLAG


Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
Page 2 of 2.  <<First   <Prev   1  2