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Why stretching is stupid.
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By Greg Kimble
From Colorado
Apr 5, 2013

Did you do the stretches...or no?


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Apr 5, 2013
At the BRC

Greg Kimble wrote:
Mark, You can do it right now sitting at your comp and feel where the stress is. Grab four fingers and push them back while bending at the wrist. You'll feel it in your forearms. When you grab a single finger and bend at your palm (MP joint) you feel it along your finger and into your palm. Push down on a single finger nail so the pad of your finger touches your palm. Push back while you do it with a finger on the back side of your hand at the MP joint. Again, you'll feel it along your finger but not in your forearms. You do "stretch" your muscle to a degree but the majority of the stress is being put into your tendons. And As far as references, I can't really find any good ones online. The majority of the climbing specific stretching stuff that you find online ends up just citing Horst. You can check out 'Physical Rehabilitation of the Injured Athlete'  edited by James Rheuben Andrews, Gary L. Harrelson, Kevin E. Wilk. It talks a little about finger tendon isolation stretches. It's a pretty thick text though.


This seems like totally "Bro science" to me.

In the first place, yes, I tried this. I feel the stretch in my forearm, regardless of whether my wrist is flexed, neutral or extended. YMMV
In the second place, what I feel is not evidence of what is actually going on internally.
In the third place, your position makes no sense. AFAIK, and correct me, Aerlii, if I am wrong, stretching is about changing the resting tension of the muscle, not physically stretching (lengthening) the tendons or pulleys.

Furthermore, what Horst says is his opinion. I have all his books, I think his opinion is worth considering, but it isn't fact.

I can't afford the rehab textbook. If you have it, maybe you could scan the relevant pages and post them?

Finally, this entire argument is about a surrogate marker of climbing performance. Whether a minimal loss in power in statically stretched muscles makes a difference is far from clear.

I do have a question though-
I have a sense that if I warm up well (which I do by climbing easy routes, but some do in other ways) then I feel like I am more flexible. I don't think my actual maximal range of motion has changed at all in that brief period, but my usable range seems to increase. Am I kidding myself, or is there any data?

Really finally this time- I don't believe flexibility makes very much difference in climbing performance, but that will obviously depend on style and route selection.


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By Ian Stewart
Apr 5, 2013

Mark E Dixon wrote:
I don't believe flexibility makes very much difference in climbing performance, but that will obviously depend on style and route selection.


I'd have to disagree with that. Consider what you can climb now, then consider what else might be possible if you were more flexible. Maybe some crazy hand/foot matches? Or maybe just being able to reach a few extra inches with that high-step, or getting that heel-hook way up over your head? How about that stem that you can't reach because your legs don't spread that much?

To me that's like saying strength doesn't make a difference in climbing performance...it obviously does.

Now, you can't say "you're more flexible than me so you're going to be a better climber", but I do think that working on your flexibility can only help your climbing (assuming you don't hurt your strength).


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By matt c.
Apr 5, 2013

So after looking at the abstracts in a few of these articles I am kinda confused by this thread. It seems that stretching doesn't appear to be important in injury prevention in low intensity sports ( jogging, walking etc). But climbing is not a low intensity sport.
Stretching (and thus making the tendon more compliant) before high intensity sports may be beneficial to reduce injury. So since climbing is a high intensity sport, why do you believe that stretching before climbing is bad?

Am I missing something?


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By Hank Caylor
Administrator
From Golden, CO
Apr 5, 2013
Lone goat..

Robbie Mackley wrote:
Don't you people hike to the crag?


What do you mean, "you people"?


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Apr 5, 2013
At the BRC

Ian Stewart wrote:
I'd have to disagree with that. Consider what you can climb now, then consider what else might be possible if you were more flexible. Maybe some crazy hand/foot matches? Or maybe just being able to reach a few extra inches with that high-step, or getting that heel-hook way up over your head? How about that stem that you can't reach because your legs don't spread that much? To me that's like saying strength doesn't make a difference in climbing performance...it obviously does. Now, you can't say "you're more flexible than me so you're going to be a better climber", but I do think that working on your flexibility can only help your climbing (assuming you don't hurt your strength).


I'm not very flexible, so there is the rare climb I am never going to get up because of that. There are a few climbs where a little extra limberness might help. Most climbs it doesn't seem to matter to me.

I'm not against flexibility, within reason. There seem to be drawbacks to static stretching before power exercise, and this might apply to climbing.

But again, YMMV and, as Aleister Crowley used to say, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law"


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Apr 5, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

It seems to me that stretching is a way to elongate and relax muscle fibers and tendons. Why would you want to do this just before doing something that requires your tendons to be in a state of prolonged contraction? It seems counter productive to me to train your muscles to relax, seconds before you intend to put a heavy load on them. Just seems like a cruel and ironic thing to do. Like telling an employee they've got the day off, then calling them in for a shift the morning of and expecting them to be productive.

But seriously, I would think you would want to save the stretching for the recovery; promoting elongation, relaxation, and training flexibility.

And focus on blood flow and dynamic warm-ups for the pre-climb nonsense.

But I am no bio-engineererist or hard-man by any means.


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By Greg Kimble
From Colorado
Apr 9, 2013

Sorry for the delay, I was out doing what we do. Might be moot at this point but whatever.

Aerili- I think you might be taking me a little too literal. I understand you can not completely 'isolate' a tendon from a muscle. I do believe you can change where the emphasis is placed. It's a pretty well accepted position that I did not make up. it's prevalent throughout kinesiology, physical therapy, chiropractic practices, and so forth. congratulations on your biomechanical research. Maybe you have access to the appropriate avenues to do climbing specific research on this stuff.

Mark- Your first 2 points, if you were talking about a ruptured spleen or a kick to the nuts then, yeah, what you feel in your body might not be what's going on. Your tendons and muscles have proprioceptive stretch receptors that, AFAIK, are accurate. So if you feel a stretch more in one location, chances are that's where you are stretching. No I don't have data.

And to answer your question, no you aren't fooling yourself at all. Here's some data for you.

Honestly, until there is climbing specific research all of this is hypothetical anyway. Hopefully the Internation Rock Cimbing Association can change that in the next few years.

I think you should stretch your fingers out a little to warm them up before climbing. I dont think you should statically stretch your shoulders prior to climbing. Probably want to just warm them up dynamically. Unless you can provide solid research to the contrary then I'm goin with that. You do what you feel works.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Apr 9, 2013

Greg Kimble wrote:
And to answer your question, no you aren't fooling yourself at all. Here's some data for you.

I got a full copy of the article & I don't know what to think of it (pretty much useless to me). Their conclusions were: 1) they found dynamic stretching to increase hamstring flexibility...except the static stretching exercises did not stretch the hamstring. 2) they found dynamic stretching helped w/ eccentric quad exercise...except the DWU group somehow had the lowest pre-test strength on that measure (not true for other tests). To be fair, relatively speaking, the dynamic warm up group did perform better (the warm up is quite comprehensive) than the static stretch group, but the difference is not significant.

One thing to remember, when scientific article say "significant", it doesn't really mean that it's better or worse by a margin anybody cares about. It just means the positive/negative results are unlikely to be statistically random.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 10, 2013
Get down from there! <br /> <br />May 2013 <br />Photo by Duc

Greg, changing the emphasis of a stretch on a given muscle is simply changing the angle of pull on the fibers. This is not something I ever disagreed with but it is not about "isolating tendons". Forces are still transmitted through the whole unit albeit with an altered vector. Also, it seems you don't realize this, but tendons don't really stretch that much. They have very little elastic component to their make-up and therefore actually resist stretch. If they didn't, you wouldn't be able to store usable energy in them (plyometric effect) or even move your body parts, especially those requiring fine motor movements. Movements of the eye, fingers, etc. depend on the relative inextensibility of tendons.


Greg Kimble wrote:
Aerili- I think you might be taking me a little too literal. I understand you can not completely 'isolate' a tendon from a muscle.


And yet:

Greg Kimble wrote:
I kind of have the impression you should statically stretch your fingers pre workout like I said do it in a way that isolates the tendons from the muscles.

Greg Kimble wrote:
So if you can isolate the tendons in a stretch, which isn't that hard since the tendons are comparatively longer than other tendons, you shouldn't loose any power.

Greg Kimble wrote:
Therefore, the forearm muscle/tendon groups are long and skinny with about 1/3 of the overall length going towards the tendons in the fingers so you can isolate the tendon pretty easily.


Clarity is of utmost importance when talking about one's theories. Anyway...


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 10, 2013
Get down from there! <br /> <br />May 2013 <br />Photo by Duc

Mark E Dixon wrote:
I do have a question though- I have a sense that if I warm up well (which I do by climbing easy routes, but some do in other ways) then I feel like I am more flexible. I don't think my actual maximal range of motion has changed at all in that brief period, but my usable range seems to increase. Am I kidding myself, or is there any data?

Yes, warming up increases body temperature which changes the viscoelastic properties of muscles and tendons. This means they become more pliable and less resistant to stretch (particularly muscle).


(quote function not working for this-->) matt c. : "It seems that stretching doesn't appear to be important in injury prevention in low intensity sports ( jogging, walking etc). But climbing is not a low intensity sport.
Stretching (and thus making the tendon more compliant) before high intensity sports may be beneficial to reduce injury. So since climbing is a high intensity sport, why do you believe that stretching before climbing is bad?"


First of all, how is a "high intensity sport" defined? That doesn't mean anything to me unless you are only talking about metabolic pathways used in a sport.

More compliant muscles can actually contribute to greater joint instability --> greater chance of joint injury. They also reduce the amount of energy which can be stored and used (think elastic recoil) which means more muscle damage can occur due to increased demand placed upon the muscle....all among many other things. There's so much more to this that I don't have time to write. If you really want to talk about it more, pm me.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 10, 2013
El Chorro

This topic comes up once in a while in various climbing forums. Research shows that static stretching is good for you, but when done correctly, it will weaken the muscle for a short period of time. This is because static stretching is breaking down muscle fibres, just like any other kind of activity does. It should be seen as a work out, and should be done after climbing, running, lifting, or on a rest day.

As far as warming up goes - if you're not warmed up when you get to the crag, drop your pack, run back down the trail for half a mile and then run back up to the crag. Before your heart rate drops, do some pull ups, push ups, and then maybe a few hangs on crimps if you can find some.

I use theraband to warm up. Carry it with me everywhere. You can do any exercise with it. I do low resistance and high repetition and cycle between 5 or 6 exercises for 5-10 minutes straight with no rest. Warms up my muscles and gets my heart rate going.

I also swing my arms in circles, swing each leg up and down, and from side to side. I also do twists to loosen up my core muscles, but it's all dynamic.

Warming up is important - but it involves getting your muscles loose, full of blood and ready for intense activity. Static stretching doesn't really do any of that on its own.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Apr 10, 2013

For those that advocate static stretch after workout, what is it supposed to do, help recovery, increase flexibility? To me, it seems for increasing flexibility, you'd want to do stretching before workout to incorporate the temporary increased ROM into the workout.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 10, 2013
Get down from there! <br /> <br />May 2013 <br />Photo by Duc

reboot wrote:
For those that advocate static stretch after workout, what is it supposed to do, help recovery, increase flexibility? To me, it seems for increasing flexibility, you'd want to do stretching before workout to incorporate the temporary increased ROM into the workout.

No evidence for enhanced recovery afaik. It can improve resting muscle tension and potentially increase flexibility.

Increased (permanent) flexibility has been shown to occur under higher tissue temperatures, not lower. Connective tissues tend to have more permanent deformations under high temps (maybe because of altered biochemical bonds). Hence the reason stretching before the workout isn't very effective at accomplishing this.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Apr 10, 2013

Aerili wrote:
Increased (permanent) flexibility has been shown to occur under higher tissue temperatures, not lower. Connective tissues tend to have more permanent deformations under high temps (maybe because of altered biochemical bonds). Hence the reason stretching before the workout isn't very effective at accomplishing this.

If that's the case, it follows that you should stretch BEFORE the workout IF you intend to utilize the increased ROM during the workout: you stretch pre-workout to increase ROM temporarily, then during workout you exercise that ROM & the elevated body temp will make that ROM more permanent. The alternative is you don't temporarily increase ROM before workout, so you never physiologically learn how to use larger ROM & then you stretch after the workout & it doesn't do squat. Sounds like gymnastics, ballerinas, martial artists have been doing it right all along.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 10, 2013
Get down from there! <br /> <br />May 2013 <br />Photo by Duc

reboot wrote:
If that's the case, it follows that you should stretch BEFORE the workout IF you intend to utilize the increased ROM during the workout: you stretch pre-workout to increase ROM temporarily, then during workout you exercise that ROM & the elevated body temp will make that ROM more permanent. The alternative is you don't temporarily increase ROM before workout, so you never physiologically learn how to use larger ROM & then you stretch after the workout & it doesn't do squat. Sounds like gymnastics, ballerinas, martial artists have been doing it right all along.

That's the thing, when you stretch (statically) before the workout, you don't actually get much range of motion. So there's not much to make permanent because the tissues don't elongate much.

Also, as a former ballet dancer, I did not statically stretch before class very much if at all. I did do a lot of dynamic range of motion warm-up. As did my classmates. We did partner static stretches at the end of class.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 10, 2013
El Chorro

reboot wrote:
For those that advocate static stretch after workout, what is it supposed to do, help recovery, increase flexibility? To me, it seems for increasing flexibility, you'd want to do stretching before workout to incorporate the temporary increased ROM into the workout.


We all know what a massive pump feels like. We all know how rock hard our forearms get after a hard training session. It's almost like they are in a spasm. Think about the amount of time and energy it takes to produce that. Think about how contracted your muscles have to be for your forearms to feel like that. Don't you think it makes sense to help them return back to their normal state before you go home and sit in front of the computer? Stretch them out, loosen them up.

Muscle recovery begins immediately, and it is during recovery that they get bigger and stronger. The recovery period can last anywhere from 24-72 hours and during that time you should be both dynamically and statically stretching to keep your muscles long and flexible. You want your big muscles to be flexible. Look what happens to rubber bands when they are overstretched. Same thing happens to muscles.

Even though you can find research that says it doesn't prevent soreness, I can say that without a doubt it DOES help prevent soreness in my body. If I come in from a long run and don't stretch my quads, hamstrings and lower back, I will be more sore the next day. No amount of research can change that fact.

Another reason I recommend people do it after exercise is that it is just a good cool down. We all know that cooling down is essential. You don't just fall off your last red-point burn and get right in the car do you? You really should do another route, but most people don't. But at least you have a walk back to the car. Stretching can help people slowly relax, get back into a normal breathing pattern - for me it's almost like a meditation and reflection on whatever it is I've just done.

If you don't want to stretch, just don't stretch (not having a go at you reboot, just saying). But please will people stop trying to justify the fact that they don't like stretching by citing some random internet article? I can find research on the internet to back up any theory I can possible dream up. That doesn't mean that it's correct.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Apr 10, 2013

Aerili wrote:
That's the thing, when you stretch (statically) before the workout, you don't actually get much range of motion. So there's not much to make permanent because the tissues don't elongate much. Also, as a former ballet dancer, I did not statically stretch before class very much if at all. I did do a lot of dynamic range of motion warm-up. As did my classmates. We did partner static stretches at the end of class.

Interesting...I guess I'd have thought static stretching after warmup but before the actual routine would be best (or even keep stretching as the workout goes), if nothing else, I get a better feel of how I should move w/ good flexibility. I agree it's hard to get much ROM w/cold muscles, but I'm also very hesitant to try something w/ large ROM dynamically w/o some static stretching first (not saying one is better than the other, but it feels hard to find that injury limit dynamically). I've tried static stretches after workout (also stretched before) & while I had the best ROM then, I was never sure it had any permanent effect.


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By Greg Kimble
From Colorado
Apr 10, 2013

Aerili- that's what I'm talking about 'too literal'. I don't mean 100% isolation. Will you also stretch muscle? Yes. You are correct. You admit you can change the emphasis though. All im saying, you put the emphasis on the length of the unit that is finger tendon. Again, I did not make these stretches up. Pretty well established.

Also, apart from you having Internet Asperger's you're wrong. Tendons do stretch. They are almost 90% collagen. You can't store energy like they do WITHOUT elasticity. If they didnt stretch they would just be bone. Static structures dont store energy. Tendons in fact have viscoelastic properties, and that is SUPER well established (like an insane amount of research.).....or am I taking you too literal? I know that can be really annoying, you know, when people do that.

And you do get increased ROM from static stretching, regardless of when you do it. Data from numerous studies shows it lasts from 60-90 minutes. But you are correct in that it creates joint instability so you probably need to watch which joints you are stretching.

Ryan- I actually like stretching. (regardless of the title, that was more of a joke) I think after a workout it just feels good. I used to stretch a lot before climbs and always felt weak for awhile initially. I just chalked it up to needing to warm-up. I saw that study and thought it was intriguing so I posted it for discussion. But to be fair, there is a ton of research on the effects of stretching and how it isn't quite as universally beneficial as everyone thought. One meta-analysis looked at over 190 seperate papers all finding negative effects of stretching in different capacities. And the OP articles cited papers that were published within the last month so I apologize if you feel this is a tired subject. I'm kinda tired of it myself.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 11, 2013
Get down from there! <br /> <br />May 2013 <br />Photo by Duc

reboot wrote:
Interesting...I guess I'd have thought static stretching after warmup but before the actual routine would be best (or even keep stretching as the workout goes), if nothing else, I get a better feel of how I should move w/ good flexibility. I agree it's hard to get much ROM w/cold muscles, but I'm also very hesitant to try something w/ large ROM dynamically w/o some static stretching first (not saying one is better than the other, but it feels hard to find that injury limit dynamically). I've tried static stretches after workout (also stretched before) & while I had the best ROM then, I was never sure it had any permanent effect.

I think if you wanted to statically stretch before workout then doing it after warm-up would be exactly the way to go. And for a martial artist, you are correct in that this may be beneficial in certain joints (whereas it might not be beneficial for other types of athletes).

I actually have some info about the effects of temperature on stretching connective tissue specifically (which is the major restriction to flexibility) and can either post it here if you are interested or even mail it to you. It's fairly scientific but really interesting.



Greg Kimble wrote:
Also, apart from you having Internet Asperger's you're wrong. Tendons do stretch. They are almost 90% collagen. You can't store energy like they do WITHOUT elasticity. If they didnt stretch they would just be bone. Static structures dont store energy. Tendons in fact have viscoelastic properties

I never said tendons don't stretch at all. I never said tendons are static. And I have already stated that both muscles and tendons have viscoelastic properties. Mmkay?

Collagen stretches very little. That is why tendons stretch very little. Contrary to your belief, the stretch shortening cycle which produces and utilizes the stored energy in tendons does not rely on the tendon being really "stretchy". A tendon may be either stiff or compliant and still have the ability to produce high or low amounts of elastic recoil. (Note: do not confuse the term "elastic recoil" to mean the tendon is highly elastic.) Stiffness and compliance refer to a tendon's ability to elongate under a given load (although, confusingly, this does not indicate their ability to have good or bad range of motion.)

"The two major physical properties of collagen fibers are their great tensile strength and relative inextensibility."
--M. Alter, "The Science of Flexibility" (emphasis his)



I don't know what your day job is, Greg, but armchair kinesiologist is not working out for you.

Now back to your regularly scheduled nonsense.


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Apr 11, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

pass the popcorn please.


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By Greg Kimble
From Colorado
Apr 11, 2013

So you agree when someone takes you 'too literal' it's annoying. I was just proving a point and I apologize. The difference between me saying they are elastic and you saying they don't stretch that much is just what we are using as a reference. Relative to what? Collagen stretches a lot depending on what you are comparing it to. The elasticity of your skin is in large part due to the collagen. Simple misunderstanding that could be discussed reasonably.

"Furthermore, because the tendon stretches, the muscle is able to function with less or even no change in length, allowing the muscle to generate greater force"- Some Guy "Wikipedia"

Don't worry, I dont get my info from wikipedia. It is a joke. I apologize if anything I posted offended you at any point. I don't know why you resort to being hateful though. I'm sure you are a very nice and intelligent person.

In all seriousness, I do have a legitimate question. Do you have any data on connective tissues having more permanent deformations under higher temps? I've heard this several times but have never been able to find any research on it.


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By Christian
From Casa do Cacete
Apr 11, 2013
Ooops...

"Literal" is an adjective used to modify a noun. "Literally" is the adverb.


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By Kid Icarus
Apr 11, 2013
Self Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Christian wrote:
"Literal" is an adjective used to modify a noun. "Literally" is the adverb.


It is good to put all the anal cunts together so they can argue grammar while considering if they should loosen up the hammies. Serious stuff!


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By Greg Kimble
From Colorado
Apr 11, 2013

I apologize for the offense to this great language. I'll rephrase in future postings.


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