The Hollow: Part 2

The Hollow position is probably the more well known position and the one that is focused on the most when developing core strength and well it’s the position that actually creates and gets you above that bar.  But we want efficiency.  And that means maintaining the tension as we transition from the Arch to the Hollow.  Again, arms and legs are fully extended and knees and ankles are squeezed tight with toes pointed.  Ideally in this position on the ground,  one could push down on your toes and your top half would lift, moving as one shape, not breaking at any point.

Many athletes lose this shape by swinging the legs upward into a piked position, losing lat engagement when the shoulder angle closes or trying to thrust the hips toward the bar thus creating an arch again rather than maintaining the hollow position.

Again, practicing on the ground is a great first step.  Whiteboard Daily has a great diagram of progressions (see above) that you can use to build up your strength and stamina in these positions.  The key is to keep the core tight by keeping back into the floor.  Once you have progressed to the full hollow hold position, hollow rocks are a great way to practice maintaining that tension.  Want to take it up another notch? Grab a PVC pipe to simulate holding onto the rig and practice POPPING into that position as quickly as possible. 

In PART THREE, I will be discussing putting the two of these together and how they should be achieved when actually performing specific gymnastics movements such as the pullup, toes to bar and the muscle up.  In the meantime, here is an exercise you can do to build up your stamina in these positions as well as drilling a FAST and EFFICIENT transition between the two.  It’s called the LOG ROLL, and I first discovered it on BreakingMuscle.com:

This exercise is almost exactly what it sounds like. The difference is that while you’re rolling from your stomach to your back, you will be alternating between the arch and hollow, respectively. Start by finding your hollow position. Then roll left or right, transitioning into your arch position. Once in the arch position roll back left or right transitioning back into your hollow position. The goal is to be able to snap from one position to the other.

Minimize excess movement outside of the hollow and arch as much as possible. Your legs should remain glued together and you should continuously squeeze your glutes, abs, and quads throughout the movement.

Want another challenging option? Check out the Hollow Arch Pulls at the bottom of the same article by clicking HERE!

Next time you have a few minutes before class or after, try some of these out!  If you are looking for more in depth advice or training progressions, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session.  If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit or learning any of these movements, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As you might have noticed I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations.  If you aren’t already following them on IG or FB you should be.  Some other great gymnastics accounts related to CrossFit to follow are: @thegymnasticscourse @pamelagnon @performanceplusprogram @thebarbellphysio @functional.gymnastics

Photo credits:

Diagram: @whiteboard_daily

Photo: @crossfitdunwoody

Gymnastics is All about Shapes: The Arch (Part One)

By: Coach Amber Hopeman (@eat.train.mom)

Beyond strict strength, when it comes to Gymnastics it is all about making SHAPES!

@whiteboard_daily

The two major shapes we are concerned with when doing gymnastic movements in CrossFit are the Hollow and Arch positions.  In order to kip we are simply moving from hollow to arch and back as efficiently as possible.  And to be efficient we aren’t just swinging from the bar but we are actively pulling ourselves into these positions. 

So let’s break each one down starting with the Arch.  Why start with the Arch?  Because it’s the one most overlooked and when that happens a lot of power is left on the table and if not drilled at the fundamental level can prevent you from progression to higher skilled movements like the Muscle-Up.  The power comes from creating as much tension as possible in the arch to use in the transition to the hollow that will create the upward momentum we need to accomplish these movements.

By keeping the body LONG and RIGID, we create this tension.  Whether on your stomach or hanging from the bar, the position is the same: arms and legs are STRAIGHT, heels squeezed together, stomach is tight and butt is squeezed.  Lie face down on your stomach and try this. Stretch your arms above your head, keep your chin tucked.  Firstly, reach your fingertips as far forward 0as possible and just squeeze those knees and heels together.  You should feel that rigidness. 

Now just squeeze your butt.  If you have stayed long, even with this just small activation of the glutes, your feet should raise off the ground.  Now, while keeping your chin tucked, lift your chest off the ground like there is a string at the base of your neck pulling you upwards as you reach your fingers forward as far as possible.  Lift the legs slightly higher so that knees are off the ground, legs stay straight, toes are pointed. This is the Arch position.  Notice you aren’t hyperextending your back nor are you making a “C” with your body.  Try doing this a few times and then jump to the rig and attempt the same thing.  Engage your lats by drawing your shoulders away from your ears, keep the body long and repeat the same thing you did on the floor.  Notice how your body shifts without swinging, this is the tension we are trying to create.

So it’s great if you are actively engaging in kipping movements again coming off of quarantine. But remember, no one gets better at pull-ups by just doing more pull-ups, you get better by perfecting the basics, drilling the fundamentals that will translate to the power you need when executing the full movement.

Next time you have a few minutes before class or after, try some of these out!  If you are looking for more in depth advice or training progressions, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session.  If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit or learning any of these movements, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As you might have noticed I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations.  If you aren’t already following them on IG or FB you should be.  Some other great gymnastics accounts related to CrossFit to follow are: @thegymnasticscourse @pamelagnon @performanceplusprogram @thebarbellphysio @functional.gymnastics 

 

Photo Credits:

Diagram- @whiteboard_daily

Arch Photo- @crossfitdunwoody

Check Your Ego at the Door

“Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room—until you change that with results.” -Ryan Holiday

As someone focused on your fitness, you know how to work hard.

You show up day in and day out. You keep track of your training, nutrition, and recovery. But do all your actions truly align with a deeper goal? The one you say you want to accomplish but still feel hesitant towards. Are you truly on the path to mastery?

In his book “Ego is the Enemy,” author Ryan Holiday tackles the difficult topic of the place of ego in success. So often we become impatient on our path to success. We get caught up in what is unfair. We want to boast or show off and show the world our best side. All the while neglecting our weakness or avoiding the work truly necessary to get better.

Can you think of a time in the past few weeks when you let ego get the best of you?

At that moment, you were probably not taking the best course of action. You probably were not focused on your values, who you want to be, or on taking action toward your goals. This can be problematic if you consistently let ego get the best of you.

Wanting to be the best will make you train hard toward your goals. Thinking you are the best can even have its place. If you are an athlete, you need to go into every contest or event with confidence that you can win. But when you begin to act and treat everyone else like you’re the best…well that’s when you start running into problems.

The danger of ego is directly related to the reality distortion field it creates. You have seen examples of this in those who have achieved some levels of success. In business, music, and certainly in sport there are countless men and women who have made fatal blunders due to unruly egos. Oftentimes, they think of themselves as invincible and surround themselves with a team of people who only feed the ego and let it grow out of control.

Compare this to an individual who has their ego in check. By getting out of your head, detaching from the internal dialogue, emotional language, and most importantly, the outcomes of a situation, you will be in a much better place to decide and act.

Winston Churchill says, “facts are better than dreams.” If you can be realistic with your current standing or status, it sets you up for true success. You will know where to leverage your strengths, how to attack your weaknesses, and a realistic view of the challenges and competition that could get in your way.

How about in the gym? Are you checking your ego when you train?

Working with a coach is one of the best ways to get a reality check. They can hold you accountable when you try to skip the warmup you should be giving more effort toward. They make sure you get deep enough on every rep of your squat.

They’re not just fitness police though. They’ll tell you when it’s time to put more weight on the bar. They’ll instruct you exactly on the strategy you need to execute in competition. They may not always give you the answer you want, but always the answer that you NEED.

If you have a health goal you want to achieve, don’t let ego get in the way. Reach out today to speak with with one of our trainers with a No Sweat Intro!

5 Common Mistakes in Low Carb Diets

High fat or low carb diets are popular choices when it comes to styles of eating. Electing to eat more fat and minimize carbohydrate intake can be a great choice if you are trying to promote lean body mass, increase insulin sensitivity, and easily maintain health.

It is important that you consult with your doctor before beginning any new approach to your nutrition. Eating a diet higher in fat, with moderate protein, and lower in carbohydrates is beneficial for some people, but it may not be the right choice for you under certain conditions. Healthy individuals, however, should consider the benefits of a low carb eating approach.

By avoiding these 5 common mistakes in low carb diets, you will set yourself up for success:

  1. Eating the same foods over and over.
  2. Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake.
  3. Missing Out on Key Vitamins and Minerals
  4. You aren’t able to hydrate properly.
  5. You don’t fuel before or replenish after a workout.

1. Eating the same foods over and over.
Lack of diversity is one of the mistakes that can occur in many diets. With low carb diets, this usually is a result of a limited range of options for fats and a relatively small amount of carbohydrate consumption. This limits the amount of foods you eat in that macronutrient.

For fats, it is important that you include fats from a wide range of products including nuts, seeds, plants, meat, and fish. You should focus on including high-quality polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that will give your body a healthy dose of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

For carbohydrates, you should focus on getting most of your intake from vegetables, low glycemic fruits and starches, and unrefined whole grain foods. This will help you meet nutrient requirements and the fiber will help prevent spikes in blood sugar that can lead to cravings and fat storage.

2. Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake.
Another common mistake in low carb diets is actually going too low carb. Consuming healthy amounts of vegetables and low glycemic fruits will provide you the energy needed to get through your day. Unless you are trying to enter ketosis, your body is running on glucose to fuel the brain.

And unless you are practiced at fasting or burning fat as a fuel source, you may experience swings in mood and energy levels by simply chopping carbs out of your diet. Most low carb diets still recommend 10-20% of intake from carbs. That means 200-400 calories throughout the day should come from carbs and it still leaves room for healthy foods like broccoli, carrots, and blueberries!

3. Missing Out on Key Vitamins and Minerals
When carbs are restricted, it can be difficult to consume adequate levels of certain nutrients. One study looked at the Atkins diet, a popular low carb diet, and found it delivered 100% of the RDI for only 15 out of 27 essential micronutrients.

Incorporating a wide range of healthy carb choices will ensure you eat a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial phytonutrients. Low carbohydrate intake may not be the best long-term plan without proper supervision and supplementation of certain micronutrients.

4. You aren’t able to hydrate properly.
Each gram of carbohydrate in the body can hold 2-3 grams of water. When we stop consuming carbohydrates, it can be difficult for the body to maintain adequate hydration levels.

Consuming salt, potassium, and other trace minerals becomes even more important when you choose a low carb diet. Focus on high-quality sea salt that will help replenish stores after sweating.

5. You don’t fuel before or replenish after a workout.
The final pitfall of a low carb/high fat diet is improper fueling before and after exercise. During bouts of intense activity the body demands more fuel to sustain intensity and output. Many folks who don’t consume carbs before a workout tend to feel weaker and sluggish during exercise. They then try to fuel their performance with caffeine and stimulants which further deplete them and place additional strain on the central nervous system. Consuming carbs before a workout will help boost performance and allow the body to train longer and harder.

After exercise, the body needs to refuel glycogen stores. Any carbs consumed after a workout are going to be shuttle into muscle cells and stored as glycogen for energy later. By refueling your body during this time you set the tone for your next workout.

Have you made one or more of these mistakes in your nutrition? No worries. Information is key and working with a coach who has the right information is the best way to get the results you want!

Speed Is a Skill

Speed is a skill. Here is how to master it…

Depending on your sport, or your fitness goals, the importance of speed could be a defining characteristic of your success. Naturally, track and cross country athletes want to run fast, but speed can help in almost all team and individual sports where strength and conditioning come into play. Whether you’re a running back who needs to hit the gap just a split second before the linebacker can wrap you up, or a basketball player who needs to explode past the defender for a layup, speed can be your best friend on the field, court, or whereever you’re trying to improve.

Given all else, a faster athlete tends to be a better one and luckily many of the defining characteristics of speed are skill-based. That means they can be trained and improved upon.

It is important to work with a coach who can teach you the skills and mechanics you need to learn. To improve speed, you need to make progress in the following 3 areas: strength, mobility, and mechanics.

Strength

An athlete can become faster by improving their absolute strength and relative strength to their body weight. This can be achieved through a combination of resistance training and plyometric exercises. Heavy squats and deadlifts will help develop the motor unit recruitment and ability of the leg muscles to produce force.

Plyometric exercises like box jumps will strengthen connective tissue and improve the stretch-shortening cycle in the muscle. Athletes will grow stronger and more powerful and this will directly correlate with increases in speed. Working with a coach who is well versed in speed development will help you get results quickly and stay injury-free.

Mobility

Improving mobility, the ability of your joints to move freely and easily can directly improve your speed. This is primarily due to the increase in stride length when the hips, knees, and ankles have a full range of motion. This allows for greater muscular contraction due to the body having a higher threshold for motor recruitment.

Your coach should explain the proper way to dynamically stretch, warmup, cooldown, and mobilize as a part of your program. It is important to discuss any past injuries with your coach so they can help you to the best of their ability.

Mechanics

The foundational movement pattern of running is a skill just like any other. Learning how to generate power through the proper mechanics can be a game-changer for many athletes and may make you feel like you are running for the first time all over again.

The timing, stride length, ability to change directions, and use of both the arms and legs for explosive movement are all essential skills to improve speed. Your coach will be able to address your unique needs and provide the proper guidance to dial in your mechanics.

If you are serious about improving speed to achieve your goals, seek out one of our coaches to develop a training plan to reach your goals.

5 Exercises to Fix your Lower Back Pain

By Emma Stewart

The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting an equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since its range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy, and injury may occur as a result.

Although there are various factors that contribute to the development of low back pain, some of the common culprits are: tight hamstrings/glutes/hip flexors, weakness in the core/glutes, and lack of spinal mobility.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb

So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are five things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.

  1. Lower Trunk Rotations (15-20 repetitions to each side)
    Lying on your back with your knees bent, gently rotate your spine as you move your knees to the side and then reverse directions and move your knees to the other side. Hold 3-5 seconds here. Repeat as you move through a comfortable range of motion.
  2. Couch Stretch (3-5 repetitions on each leg)
    Kneel on a pillow or couch cushion facing away from your couch/chair. Lean forward and put one foot on your couch. May hold onto a chair/foam roller for stabilization. Stretch should be felt in the front of the thigh of the leg that that has the foot on the couch/chair. Hold 30-60 seconds. Remember to keep your low back in a neutral spine position (do not over arch/overextend your back).
  3. Hamstring Stretch (3-5 repetitions on each leg)
    Lie on your back and place a stretching strap on your foot. Pull on the strap to assist in raising your leg up for a stretch to the back of your leg. Keep your target leg straight to slightly bent the entire time.  Hold 30-60 seconds.
  4.  Posterior Pelvic Tilts (30 repetitions)
    Lying on your back with your knees bent, gently flatten your back to the table and roll your hips up. Hold 3-5 seconds in this position. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. You should NOT be holding your breath during this exercise.
  5. Clamshells (3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side)
    While lying on your side with your knees bent, make sure that your shoulders, hips, and feet are aligned in the same plane. Tie an elastic band around your legs, just above your knees. Draw up the top knee while keeping your feet together. Do not let your pelvis roll back during the lifting movement.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches into your daily routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes more pain or feels uncomfortable, consult your doctor or local physical therapist for further assistance.

Want to learn more about how to improve your overall physical functionality? Schedule your no sweat intro and meet with one of our amazing coaches today!

Make Your Breakfast 10% Better

You’ve heard it before. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” A healthy breakfast can support your physical and mental performance. If you are trying to excel, grow, and make changes to your body or in your life then you need the proper fueling regimen to get you there.

Have you ever crashed during your workout? Felt mentally foggy or weak on a particular day? There’s probably a correlation with your nutrition. Whether it can be drawn back to the day’s breakfast or the long-term effects of nutrition choices, you can probably find a link.

To get the results you want, you need to pay attention to your nutrition. In this blog, we’ll be focusing on how you can make your breakfast 10% better. There are so many benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. Of course, improved performance is one, but eating breakfast has also been shown to reduce food cravings later in the day. It can also improve mental clarity and boost energy.

Our bodies are complex machines and our breakfast impacts the way our body operates for the day. Eating breakfast affects neurotransmitter production, electrolyte balance, blood sugar levels, and more. Our bodies operate the best with certain types of fuel and the right ratio of carbs, fat, and protein to perform at their best.

But not all breakfasts are created equal. So what are the makings of a great breakfast?

Choosing high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbs is a great start to make your breakfast 10% better!Increasing protein intake is one of the best decisions you can make for your nutrition, especially at breakfast. Protein contains high-quality amino acids that will keep you satiated and prevent cravings later in the day. Try to eat some solid protein such as meat or eggs. If you need a quick option try keeping hard-boiled eggs and greek yogurt on hand. They are easy options to scarf down quickly or grab on your way out the door to work. Protein shakes are also good but whole foods are best.

People who consume liquid protein in the morning don’t get the same satiety benefits and still tend to overeat later in the day. Use protein shakes only if no other options are available or you are going to exercise first thing in the morning and need something fast digesting.

For fats look for foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados. These foods provide healthy monounsaturated fat and are chock full of vitamins and minerals as well. Rotating through different fats will ensure you have diversity in your diet and prevent excessive intake of any one food. A handful of nuts, an avocado, or some chia pudding are all easy grab and go options for healthy breakfast fats.

For carbs at breakfast, you should take a “less is more” approach. Focus on low glycemic carbs such as leafy greens and broccoli. Dark berries are also a great choice when fresh and in season. This will give you some additional fuel for your day. Try to avoid highly processed foods that will spike your blood sugar and have you craving carbs and making energy levels crash throughout the day.

Not a fan of breakfast?

There can be benefits to intermittent fasting too. Just recognize how your body feels and performs its best. For some people that is 5-6 small meals per day. For others, a big lunch or dinner is all it takes. Focusing on high-quality whole foods, getting enough protein and heart-healthy fats, and calibrating carb intake based on your activity levels.

For more nutritional and training strategies, get in touch with one of our coaches today!

Sugar: An Athlete’s Survival Guide

As an athlete or someone who cares about their health and fitness, it is important to make nutritious dietary choices.

One of the biggest battles faced by Americans today is contending with the high amounts of sugar that seem to be everywhere in the foods we eat. Sugar seems to sneak its way into many of the foods and drinks we consume daily without us even realizing it. This can be detrimental to our health, training, and body composition goals because sugar can provide unnecessary calories, impact our mood, alter cognitive function and energy levels, and impact so many other vital functions in our bodies.

What is sugar?

Simple sugars are the most basic form of carbohydrates known as a monosaccharide. You will often hear these referred to as glucose, fructose, and galactose. These ringed structures are also the building blocks for larger compounds such as disaccharides like sucrose (table sugar), and polysaccharides like starch (foods like potatoes, corn, and wheat).

What does sugar do to my body?

Our body actually runs off the simple sugar known as glucose. With the exception of individuals in nutritional ketosis, our bodies actually require sugar to perform vital functions to survive. Our brain is the biggest sugar user in our body and consumes approximately 120 grams of glucose daily, that’s about 420 calories worth! That glucose can come from our diet or gets produced through a process called gluconeogenesis in the liver.

Even though our body loves glucose it needs to moderate the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. A steady stream of glucose is preferred to large amounts because consistent excessive amounts can cause problems in our bodies. It’s like filling up the gas tank in your car. You need to put in the proper amount of fuel and have a maximal capacity for storage. You keep the fuel in the gas tank even though there is more room in the trunk of your car. If you fill your trunk with gasoline it would no longer serve its useful purpose as fuel and would be very dangerous.

What if I have too much Sugar?

To prevent our body from excessive glucose levels in the blood we have the hormone insulin to help store the glucose we don’t need as fat. This is like having those handy little red 5-gallon gas containers. When the tank of the car is full we simply start filling our storage containers to save energy for later. Having a little bit of extra fuel on the reserve is always nice, but we don’t need to store extra fuel every single day or we end up with a problem.

So when can I have sugar?

As an athlete sugar is important for refueling our body after exercise. This makes sure that we have enough fuel in the tank the next time we want to go for a drive. If we want to drive fast and race however we don’t want to carry any extra storage containers in the form of fat. That will only impede performance. Most of our diet should consist of healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables that will not spike our blood glucose levels.

If you have questions about the optimal food choices for your diet to optimize performance you need to work with an experienced coach who gets the best out of athletes. Nutrition is a highly personalized journey and can take some refining and tweaking to optimize. Once you dial in what is best for you there is nothing that can get in your way!

Everything You Need To Know About Salt In Your Diet

Long touted as “the bad guy” when it comes to heart health and blood pressure, salt is starting to fight back with a different story.

There is more to salt than the seasoning and preservative we tend to associate with it. There is absolutely a place for salt in your diet. It’s important to know that not all salt is created equal.

To truly optimize your health you need to prioritize your salt intake, consume the right types of salt, and understand the relationship it has with potassium. When it comes to nutrition that can optimize your health and performance, electrolytes are just one key to success. Adopting sound nutritional strategies will transform the way you feel but also the way you think and your mood.

The problem that arises with salt has less to do with salt and actually stems from processed foods. Processed foods are to be limited for two main reasons.

First, they are almost entirely void of potassium, which throws off the ratio of salt to potassium in the body.

Second, they contain 99% sodium chloride and anti-caking agents that often contain heavy metals which can do serious damage to your nervous system. Salt containing heavy metals can actually lead to dehydration. They are toxic in the body, so the body pulls water out of the cells to protect itself.

“At the end of the day, you can’t compete with Mother Nature. If you’ve got a great tomato, just a pinch of sea salt is all you need.” -Zac Posen

The solution to the problem is to eat the right types of salt. Himalayan salts, sea salts, and other high quality salt products contain lower levels of sodium chloride and instead have higher amounts of beneficial trace minerals. They are also unrefined, which eliminates the risk of heavy metals.

It may be a tough mental block for you to overcome when it comes to adding salt to your diet. Feel free to use a healthy variety of salt liberally, since evidence has shown no link between sea salt intake above dietary guidelines and adverse medical conditions.

Salt can improve athletic performance and energy levels through its hydrating effects. There are also tons of varieties that will absolutely revolutionize the taste of your food. The cells in our body maintain hydration through a sodium potassium pump. The body likes to maintain specific levels of each mineral in order to keep homeostasis. Along with salt, make sure you consume foods high in sodium like potatoes and bananas, especially if you are training hard or sweating a lot.

If you have questions about nutrition for your sport, you want to have more energy, or make a positive choice for your body then we would love to talk about your goals and share some resources that can help!

Debunking 3 Big Stretching Myths

Stretching is one of the most misunderstood practices in the realm of fitness and sports performance. A long-standing staple in many training sessions, it is commonly performed incorrectly, performed at the wrong time, or avoided for the wrong reason.

By the end of this article, you should be able to see the benefits of stretching and how to place it into your routine. Let’s take a closer look at what stretching is, when to do it, and debunk 3 of the most common myths about stretching.

    • Myth #1 Stretching makes you weak.
    • Myth #2 Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.
    • Myth #3 Stretching increases the risk of injury.

 

Myth #1 Stretching makes you weak.

Stretching is sometimes avoided entirely. Especially by athletes who are concerned with losing strength or experiencing a decrease in performance. Holding long static stretches before executing a high-intensity lift or movement may have an impact on the stretch shortening cycle of the muscle.

Most folks, however, are not going to hold a long passive hamstring stretch and immediately pop up into a heavy set of back squats or deadlifts. Proper stretching of the muscle requires breathing, relaxation, and a parasympathetic state to be performed correctly.

Odds are that what most people consider stretching is more like jamming their connective tissues, ligaments, and joints into aggressive end range of motion and uncomfortably holding them there until the pain is overwhelming. The positions are wrong. The intensity is too high. The body doesn’t relax. Stretching is not achieved.

Performing proper stretching has actually been shown to IMPROVE strength as the muscle is able to contract properly and generate force through a greater range of motion. But when and how should it be done? Let’s move on to myth #2.

Myth #2 Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.

Stretching before exercise or sport can actually increase performance. The key is knowing how long to stretch. A meta-analysis of studies around stretching and the ability to generate strength or power in subsequent effort found some pretty clear data.

Holding stretches for less than 30 seconds had no negative effect on the ability to jump, sprint, or produce force in resistance training movements. Holding stretches for 30 seconds or longer led to decreases in the ability to produce force with longer stretch times, leading to a more significant decrease.

Key Takeaway: Perform dynamic stretching and short duration static stretching before exercise or sport. Take the muscles through a progressively increasing range of motion to improve circulation and prepare the body for performance.

Myth #3 Stretching increases risk of injury

Based on the first two myths being debunked you probably know where this one is heading… The idea that stretching increases risk of injury is tied in with the lack of knowledge around proper timing and execution of stretching protocols. In fact, in today’s society, we spend more time sitting in poor positions, with our shoulders hunched and necks cranked forward as we peer at our cellphones and computer screens.

We’ve already established a dynamic stretching and short duration (<:30 seconds) static stretching routine can help prepare the body for performance, but there is a huge benefit to longer duration static stretching post workout and during active recovery sessions. By addressing some commonly tight muscles like the pectoralis or psoas we are able to correct our bodies posture and alignment. Stretching these two muscles helps provide stability to the hip and shoulder joints and can significantly decrease injury risk.

So now that we’ve debunked some of the common myths around stretching you should feel confident about incorporating stretching into your training. If you need help with stretching, mobility, or any other training needs consider connecting with one of our trainers to find a plan that works for you.