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How To Stretch Properly Before Sports

snowboard injury

In my last post we talked about how static stretching isn’t what you want to be doing before sports…if you missed that post you can check it out here >>

So what can you do instead?

Well the first thing I recommend for my clients is dynamic stretching.

Dynamic (or ballistic) stretches stretch the muscles through movement. Repeated studies have shown they can improve power, strength and performance during a subsequent exercise session. Unlike static stretching which involves just pulling on a specific muscle group, dynamic stretching incorporates posture control, stability, balance and ballistic, explosive movements such as swings and kicks.

Take a simple quadricep stretch, the traditional way of doing this (the way I was taught when I used to play football) was to simply stand on one leg, grab the ankle of the other leg and pull that heel towards your bum, a classic static stretch.

Instead of this, imagine you were to take a giant step forward with your right leg and then grab the ankle of your left foot pulling it up to your bum. Now drop it down and take a giant step forward with your left leg, grab your right heel and pull it to your bum. Suddenly you are incorporating stability, balance and mobility whilst actually contracting the muscles.

All of which makes this a far superior way to stretch.

I would recommend warming up before doing dynamic stretching. Due to its ballistic and explosive nature you are more likely to injure yourself if done from cold than static stretching so a good 10 min cardio based warmup is mandatory.

The other method I use and have most of my clients use, is

Deep Tissue Work.

This catch all term refers to anything which gets deep into your muscles and connective tissue. Now there are loads of ways to do this, Rolfing, Muscle Activation Technique, Advanced Muscle Integrative Therapy, Point Therapy, but my favourite (mainly for its ease and accessibility) is foam rolling and simply making love to a spiky Death Star! (Or if you don’t want to buy one of the specialist devices, rolling around on a tennis ball to really get it into all those spots which hurt).

Think of it as a self applied (or inflicted!) deep tissue massage.

Why do this?

When you have areas of chronic tightness or tension, or a history of injury or muscle overuse, adhesions (bands of painful areas) usually form in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. These adhesions block circulation whilst causing pain, inflammation and limited mobility.

Which is turn means when you exercise (or just sit around for too long) you create tension in these muscles. Tighter muscles tend to weaken, and a weak muscle tends to tighten…so you get a viscous cycle which increases inflammation, reduces blood flow and lessens the ability of the lymphatic system to remove waste material from the muscle, thus increasing the risk of injury.

Deep tissue work gets in and breaks these adhesions down by applying direct pressure or friction across the grain of the muscle.

The best thing about Deep Tissue work? It doesn’t have to be done directly before or after sports, but can simply be something you include in your daily routine. I tend to do 20 mins every morning and evening when I can and the differences after just a few months are HUGE.

Interested to learn more?

I’ve put together a free workout plan which includes all of the techniques mentioned to ensure you never get injured again…

You can get it when you join our free online community here >>

Sam.

😎🤙

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Why You’re (Probably) Going To Get Injured [And How Not To]

Arrrgghhhh,” I screamed…my heart sank, I punched the water in frustration. I instantly thought of all the weeks ahead of me when I’d be stuck immobile unable to kite, to surf, to run.

I knew it done some serious damage…

I had felt the muscle tear and now faced the long road back to recovery and the constant worrying as to if I would actually recover properly ever again, or if this would be the one which slowly stopped me doing the things I loved.

Conventional wisdom tells us, when you pull or tear a muscle that the muscle was too weak and the solution therefore is to build it up stronger.

Rehab thus focusses on making that individual muscle stronger so it is able to withstand greater forces in the future and so not get injured…

Sounds about right…

Right?

Wrong…

What if we’ve been looking at it all wrong and this is why re-injury, painfully slow recovery and very often less than full recovery is so common..

What if by focussing on strengthening the muscle which got injured we’re actually making it MORE likely it’ll tear again in the future? 

Sounds crazy right, but this is exactly what I’ve found working with clients.

When you focus on making one muscle strong unless you do it a very specific way you also make it dense.

This muscle is now so dense that it has very little give, very little flex (or suspension as I like to think of it) so it pulls any muscles which attach to it towards it. 

Now, the body is an interconnected system where each action has a reaction across the entire system.

So as that one muscle gets stronger and denser and pulls the connective muscles towards it. Which takes any redundancy out of the system, it makes the suspension much tighter with much less give. 

So when you suffer a knock or apply a lot of force to that muscle it has no ability to absorb and distribute that force across the system. It must take the entire impact on that one dense, strong muscle…which then inevitably tears.

What if instead we focussed on making that muscle longer and softer as we make it stronger, whilst also doing the same for the muscles upstream and downstream of it?

We now have a muscular system with in built redundancy, with its own suspension. So when it suffers an impact the force is spread across several muscles all of which have the ability to lengthen and flex. 

Now that same force can be absorbed without causing injury.

So am I saying you shouldn’t be strengthening muscles? 

Not at all, but as you are working on making muscles stronger you MUST also be making sure they are soft and long, with a lot of redundancy built in. 

This is exactly how your muscles are when you are young. Which is why young people never seem to get injured.

As we age we get knots and lesions in the muscles which cause them to bunch and tighten up. So we need to encourage our muscles to become young again. 

This has multiple benefits, the main one being that we can continue to do the sports we love well beyond  what is normally considered normal and not suffer the normal aches and pain we expect as we get older. It also means we spend less time on the physios table and more time on the water or the slopes doing what we actually love.

How to do this?

Whilst there are many ways the simplest is deep tissue massage. The first thing we need to do is work those knots out. Now this doesn’t have to mean expensive trips to the physio 3 times a week. By grabbing a foam roller and rolling around on it every morning over a couple of months you’ll notice some amazing things happen…aches and pains disappear and movement becomes effortless.

Yes you do have to suffer a few funny looks from your partner as you’re grunting and groaning whilst seemingly making love to the damn thing, but that’s a small price to pay for younger , more resilient muscles.

I’ve put together an online community (not on Facebook) where each week I coach you live in techniques like this. It’s free and you can join here >>

See you on the inside,

Sam
😎🤙