First, some facts about stretching:
- Flexibility does not reduce due to strength training.
- As a matter of fact, full range of motion strength training (depth back squat) will actually increase your flexibility.
- Vice versa, flexibility does not have a negative impact on strength training unless it is done immediately before maximal weight lifting (static stretching).
- Stretching to increase your flexibility should be immediately done after maximal weight training when the muscles are warmed up.
- An increase in your muscular size does not decrease your flexibility.
- Flexibility training should be as consistent as strength training.
- Flexibility is limited by each individual athlete’s bone and joint structure.
Second, USA Weightlifting (USAW, this is the sole governing body for Olympic Weightlifting athletes) has a certain set of rules to follow for flexibility training (safety first):
- Only muscles that have been warmed up through a general or specific warm-up should be stretched.
- Gradual increases in range of motion are achieved during stretching and no sudden moves into full range of motion should be attempted.
- Only the current range of motion should be sought during warming up and no effort should be made to improve the current range of motion.
- Flexibility exercises cease as the specific warm-up progresses, and they are not resumed until skill building, power and strength training have been completed.
- Flexibility training to increase an athlete’s range of motion should be performed immediately after the strength training has been completed, while the muscles are still warm.
Third, the various forms of stretching:
- Static - Slow movements into a position near maximum range of motion that are held for 10-30 seconds and repeated after a period of rest. This form of stretching is most useful when attempting to improve a range of motion. This is not very useful for dynamic movements of most sports (including weightlifting).
- Ballistic/Dynamic - Limb stretch assisted by momentum via bouncing or swinging. There are concerns with this type of stretching causing injury due to microtrauma or a catastrophic event (athletes that have properly warmed up before stretching to extreme ranges of motion, have shown limited or no injury). This style of stretching is not widely practiced by weightlifters due to only achieving a wider range of motion for a brief period of time.
- Passive vs Active - Stretch via an assistant to achieve a greater range of motion. There is risk of overstretching due to having an assistant. There is also limited carryover relative to unassisted stretches.
- Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) - This method argues that if a strenuous stretch is held for more than a couple of seconds, a stretch reflex actually begins to resist the stretch that activated it. So, it is recommended that the stretch be held for two seconds, followed by a return to the pre-stretch position. After one second, reapply the same motion. This is done for 10 repetitions and with a partner.
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) - Stretching to a position as close to maximal range of motion as possible against an opposing force for several seconds. After this stretch, an effort is made to surpass the previous maximal range of motion, sometimes with the help of a partner. This continues for several repetitions and makes it possible for a greater range of motion than the previous methods of stretching.
So, lots of information this post! The information nerd in me came out a bit and I carried on and on and on… a lot. Ninety percent of this information came from my recent USAW certification training and I thought it would be an excellent subject to relay to everyone. No workout of the day from me this week, REST AND RELAX! Have a great weekend everyone and as always if you wish to leave a comment below or contact me at Joe@dedicatedfit.com feel free! Remember to check out posts from Logan, Dakota, Kylee, and Sage as well. Also, a special thank you to Brent Hertzog and Kylee Turko for helping me with this week’s video! I’m done now, I promise. :D