220420 Strengthening with Stretching By Daniel Pare, NCCP, CSO. Strength Coach
How important is a full range of motion really is? It is the foundation of strength. You are getting injured regularly I would not spend too much time on trying to find out why you got injured, I would go right to the source of the check the range of motion of what is painful. More times than others a shorten muscle will not respond very well to exercises and daily life requirements. You cannot strengthen a muscle or become stronger if you have muscular tightness.
How do you strengthen a muscle? You could use a heavy dumbbell and or load a heavy barbell and train with that, but the problem has not been addressed at all. You need to strengthen by stretching it through a full range of motion, because the muscle has shorten and putting that same muscle under load, is not so much a good idea. What kind of stretching should be used? That could become a subject for debate that is the reason why I am going to write this article according to the results I have been experiencing with my clients and members.
How do you stretch to lengthen the muscle and increase its strength? You have static and you have *active/dynamic stretching. Remember that we are looking at strengthening, so we need to stretch to create a full range of motion actively to strengthen that or those muscles. In order to strengthen a muscle you need an increase in blood flow. For that to happen, movement needs to take place. I have experienced great benefits by using a more active or dynamic form of stretching. Here is how to proceed.
Let’s take the shoulder joint, the most butchered joint of all. You should be able to move in all kinds of directions without a slight bend at the elbows. You have a bend at the elbow… something is tight. You cannot do a full circular rotation with a straight torso and straight elbows, a few muscles are tight in there. It could be several things like the biceps tendons that have shortened, the Brachialis and the biceps not sliding to allow proper range of motion, it could be all kinds of things. You will compensate with everything you have to do an exercise, if you have flexibility issues or weakness issues. Just look at someone do a barbell curl or bench and watch the shoulder going up and or back.
If you find yourself struggling and experience a slight discomfort, you need to increase your flexibility. The range of motion needs to increase. You need to locate and single out that specific muscle or more than one and stretch them is a way that they are doing something. When this has being diagnosed, you begin your stretching. Surprisingly enough, in most cases, the pain will go away and you will be able to return to normal activity very quickly (that is exactly what I am seeing with my clients and members).
What happens when something starts to hurt? If we look at the shoulder joint we have 4 rotators (Subscapularis, Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus, teres). If one of them does not do what it is supposed to do, work in unison with the others, the shoulder joint (head of the humerus) will not sit properly in the shoulder cavity and now it starts to grind. This needs to be diagnosed properly then the work begins.
It’s like a tire out of alignment; it’s going to start grooving unevenly. The best part about the tire is that you change and it is O.K., but what happens if the same problem reoccurs? It’s not the tire anymore is it? Quite frankly, it never was!
Daniel Pare NCCP, CSO.
St. Thomas Ontario Canada