INTRODUCTION

What happens when you don’t stretch? Nothing. For a while. You lift. You get stronger. You improve your diet a bit. You get leaner. You look good. Who needs to stretch? Then you wake up one day and you have a slight pain in your lower back. You instinctively try to stretch it out. Maybe you lean over and touch your toes, which, coincidentally are very far from the tips of your fingers. It helps a bit, so you forget about it. You keep training. In the weight room, you are an animal. Other people look at you and say your lifts are good. But you start to notice that after sitting all day at work, your lower back is aching. You try to stretch it out. Maybe you put your hands on your lower back and do the old man, hips forward stretch with a bustling sigh, but it lingers. Not the biggest deal though, because once you get warmed up at the gym, things feel A-okay. So you forget about it. You keep lifting. You keep getting stronger. You can now squat some serious weight which feels good. But one day you’re doing a deep squat and you feel something tweak in your lower back. You don’t stretch it out this time because it’s hard to breathe. It feels like you need your spine popped back in place.

WHAT HAPPENED?

At this point, most people say this is unavoidable and happens from time to time “Injury is a part of sport.” But, contrary to this wisdom it can all be avoided. So what happened here? From a physiological point of view, the hamstrings gradually got stronger and tighter until they started to pull the pelvis down with them. This is called a posterior pelvic tilt and it changes the curvature of the spine. This was continuously reinforced by sitting all day, which also lead to retraction of the hamstring muscles. The lumbar curve got lost, which seriously affects posture under heavy load, this lead to a excess pressure on the spine. It is something that happens all too often in the weight room because people refuse to work on their mobility. Everything seems good, then boom another injury out of the blue! it’s understandable because mobility work is about as exciting as watching paint dry! But, if you want to stay pain- and injury-free, having a strong body is only part of that battle. Having a mobile body is also essential.

GET MOBILE

If you want add mobility work into to exercise schedule there are two ways of going about this. One way is to include a mobility and core class like yoga which is great for improving posture and decreasing the tension in those tightened muscles. If adding another workout to your week is absolutely out of the question, try mobility intervals in-between your training stations. Basically use your recovery time to stretch your three tightest movements. This helps to break up your mobility work into manageable pieces and allows you to utilize what would otherwise be a simple active recovery. Your glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors are likely culprits for your lower body. Your thoracic spine and your lats are a good place to work on too.

THE ROUTINE

Five-minute warm-up jog Treadmill Sprint – 90 seconds Mobility Work – Pigeon (Glutes) – 60-second hold Repeat five times Incline Treadmill Sprint – 90 seconds Mobility Work – Hamstring – 60-second hold Repeat five times Force Treadmill Sprints – 50 yards Mobility Work – Thoracic Extensions on the Foam Roller – 60 seconds Repeat five times Note: Make sure you’re good to go after your stretches. Sometimes a muscle needs to “wake up” a bit after an intense stretch, so the first 30 seconds of the interval can be easier than the subsequent minute. This is by no means a perfect or exhaustive approach to mobility work; it is the absolute minimum. But in order to stay pain-free and continue your strength progress from your workouts, mobility is essential!

For anymore information on active, dynamic,static stretching or injuries then email rich@121fitnesstraining.co.uk

Healthy Regards

Rich Jones