Why stretching might be bad for you

It seems like there are certain things in life where there isn’t such a thing as too much of a good thing.

You know what I mean?

For example, not too many people would say no to a raise at work. Or a few extra days on a vacation. Or to any of the things we work to achieve and be rewarded with.

In the same way in fitness we can sometimes see certain aspects of training as being not only essential for everyone but that it would be impossible to do too much of them.

Usually this goes hand in hand with the things we don’t like to do during our training. This may include a proper warm up, or core training, energy system training or maybe even stretching.

For many stretching tends to be the element of their training that gets neglected. We put in the reps and sets or go for our runs but then skip the cool down and post-workout stretch. I know I am guilty of this.

And as we age and settle into jobs where we sit for a big part of the day and we notice a change in our mobility. It gets harder to touch our toes. We can’t reach our arm behind us to scratch our back. Basically we notice that aren’t as flexible as we once were.

And we recognize the need for increased mobility and stretching to achieve this.

But this may not be the best solution for everyone.

Last fall I attended a clinic with Eric Cressey presenting in Seattle. (Graeme was at this event as was Megan). Anyways Eric talked about using a series of tests to the assess the mobility (or hyper mobility) of athletes using the Beighton Test.

The 5 Beighton tests

The 5 Beighton tests

The image above shows the 5 tests which involve:
* bending the pinkie back with note of 90 degrees reached or less
* bending the thumb to the forearm with note of touch or not
* extending the arm with note of 10 degrees of hyperextension or not
* extending the leg with note of 10 degrees of hyperextension or not
* flexing at the trunk with note of palming the floor or not

Go ahead and try these tests.

Now for most of us we won’t be able to reach the level of mobility described above. And that means we can probably proceed with some type of movement pattern screen and begin training.

But what about the individuals who are able to attain the mobilities described above? Do they need to stretch? Or more importantly, isn’t is reasonable that since these individuals are hyper mobile already the last thing they need to do is stretch? Further, we could also argue that stretching these individuals would impede performance and possibly lead to injury.

To summarize, most people we come in contact with lack mobility and we use a variety of tools and drills to help them move better. Once they have increased their mobility the next goal would be to ensure that they are able to control this new range and perform at their best.

If you would like to have this test including our consult and assessment performed for you make sure to contact us at athlete training@shaw.ca or stop by our facility to book an appointment.

Chris

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