Stretching: Good or Bad?

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ironmaiden708
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Post by ironmaiden708 » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:15 pm

ironmaiden do you dead lift at all? That strengethened my lower back and now im having almost no back pains when i lift. I used to have a sore back all day long but since dls i feel great. I think you may have an imbalance but if you did hurt your back you might want a dr to check it. The back is serious.
That makes my back ache even more, but I havn't been consistent w/ them recently. I will take all these suggestions to heart and start dls with the best form as possible. I imagine I have good posture, no doctor ever complained of poor posture to me. Of course I never did ask of that specifically. I will be going to one very soon. I'll wait till then.
also, next time your lower back gets irritated and aches, lie down on a flat hard surface on your back and bring your feet close to your bum-does that make it feel better?
I'll let you know when that time comes.


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Post by corless319_ » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:27 pm

i've noticed my lower back cramps up when i dead lift or even sqaut sometimes and its painful but i expect it. I have a weaker lower back. When it hurts i lie down on a bench and almost pull my knees to my chest its helps a lot. I don't know what you have but I have always been told not to irritate injuries and if something hurts dont do it. I remember as a kid playnig football I hit this big guy really hard he was about 285 I was 135 because of my speed it was even but I was the one that was hurt after the hit. I could barely lift my arm up cause it hurt. I said coach it hurts when I do this. I lift my arm. He then says then don't do it. I'm like hmmmm.

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Post by caangelxox » Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:08 pm

When you deadlift, make sure you do not round your back and that your head is in neutral the whole lift. if you round your back, your asking for an injury/pain. Don't start too heavy. Start light and then increase weight as you are 100% sure your form is correct.

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Post by ironmaiden708 » Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:52 pm

If this means anything to you guys, I accually have very good flexibility in my lower body. When you stretch and try to touch your toes. I can touch my palms to the floor. I can do a split to about 165 degrees. The stretch where you bring your foot up and touch your bum, I can bend it and touch my obliques. My upper body is a totally different story though, horrible flexibility. I can't even raise my arms straight above my head anymore.

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Post by KPj » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:09 am

amivan wrote: So from what I can gather it seems that static stretching is the villain, PNF or dynamic stretching is okay.
Generally I kind of agree... Static stretching is the villain pre work out, unless it's for overactive / shortened muscles. I'm not too familiar with PNF stretching, but from your description I would imagine it to have the same effects as static stretching pre work out as it seems to address tissue length, and holds the muscle in a stretched position for an extended period of time...

I have had someone do a couple PNF stretches on me before (although I didn't know it was called anything different) and there definitely is benefit so i'm not knocking it. The stretch he done on my shoulder would of been impossible for me to do by myself and it felt good (afterwards anyway).


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Post by Ryan A » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:27 am

Can you touch your toes with a perfectly straight back?

If not it could be flexibility in your back and not your hamstrings or hips that is letting you do this. This could be the cause of some of your back pain for sure.

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Post by KPj » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:41 am

ironmaiden708 wrote:KPj I did forget to mention a couple things, so I apoligize (it was 7:00 am...) when I do wear a lifting belt none of these problems ever seem to occur. Also I do have a possible predisposition to back injuries since my dad has herniated disks and so did his mother.

Any of that relevant to you?
That makes sense. Remember the big negative with regards to belts is that they make the core 'lazy' i.e. they do some of the work the core should be doing - I'm not trying to start a debate on belts, I feel their good for heavy sets of 1 or 2. So if you have overactive hip flexors and/or lumbar erectors which take on more load than they should during these exercises, causing stiffness / soreness, then it would make sense that by using a belt and essentially giving some of the load to the belt (and away from the lumbar), that you feel relief in your lower back.

If this means anything to you guys, I accually have very good flexibility in my lower body. When you stretch and try to touch your toes. I can touch my palms to the floor. I can do a split to about 165 degrees. The stretch where you bring your foot up and touch your bum, I can bend it and touch my obliques. My upper body is a totally different story though, horrible flexibility. I can't even raise my arms straight above my head anymore.
When you touch the floor, is the flexibility coming from your lower back, or hips? encase you don't know what I mean, instead of bending straight down, start by moving your hips back and keeping your chest up and see how far you get or if there's a difference.

What i'm getting at is the hip mobility thing. If your hips are stiffer than your lower back, your body will move from the lower back instead of the hips. This also applies to the thoracic spine (upper back) - if your moving from the lower back instead of the hips, you also won't be moving from the thoracic spine as you should be. Movement should come from the hips and thoracic spine instead of the lower back. This is why things like yoga and pilates are starting to get such a bad rap - because they encourage extreme flexibility in joints that primarily need more stability (lower back). This would also make sense as you said that your lower body flexibility is very good but upper body is quite bad (thoracic spine).

Another thing to try would be to test isometric strength in the core. If you just do a front bridge and see how long you can hold it for it may expose some weakness - if your shaking like mad when you approach 1 minute, then your core 'function' is pretty poor. One minute should be straight forward for most and I know that when it was difficult for me, I was pretty banged up.

In summary, see where your lower body flexibility actually comes from - what joints? (lower back or hips)

And try a front bridge and see how your core responds. What i'm getting at is still the overactive lumbar erector and hip flexor thing - this would mean your abs were weak...


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Post by Cassetti » Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:41 am

KPj wrote:Dynamic stretching is amazing pre work out.


Static stretching pre work out has been shown to weaken the muscles by lengthening them and putting them in a relaxed state - the only proof you need of that is to perform decent statics stretch program and see how you feel :-)
What are Dynamic and Static stretches? :S

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Post by KPj » Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:46 am

Cassetti wrote:
KPj wrote:Dynamic stretching is amazing pre work out.


Static stretching pre work out has been shown to weaken the muscles by lengthening them and putting them in a relaxed state - the only proof you need of that is to perform decent statics stretch program and see how you feel :-)
What are Dynamic and Static stretches? :S
Here's a good summary,

http://www.exrx.net/ExInfo/Stretching.html

Basically, Static stretches are what everyone knows as 'stretching'. Dynamic exercises are similar to body weight exercises...

KPj

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Post by ironmaiden708 » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:02 am

That makes sense. Remember the big negative with regards to belts is that they make the core 'lazy' i.e. they do some of the work the core should be doing - I'm not trying to start a debate on belts, I feel their good for heavy sets of 1 or 2. So if you have overactive hip flexors and/or lumbar erectors which take on more load than they should during these exercises, causing stiffness / soreness, then it would make sense that by using a belt and essentially giving some of the load to the belt (and away from the lumbar), that you feel relief in your lower back.
Would you recommend for now that when I do exercises that I don't use a belt then to try and loosen and strengthen those muscles?

I'll try to do that stretching like you told me to do, things are a chaotic for me right now so maybe this sunday I can give you an update.

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Post by KPj » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:32 am

ironmaiden708 wrote:Would you recommend for now that when I do exercises that I don't use a belt then to try and loosen and strengthen those muscles?
Yes, unless it's a lift of 90% of your 1RM or heavier (singles or doubles). If you've been using a belt exclusively for these lifts then you should be prepared to drop the weight down a little as it will definitely feel weird to the point that it affects your focus, and your core muscles may be dependent on the belt.

The crucial thing is to maintain a good back position - straight or slightly arched. In DL's especially, back position could be the difference between making much better, or making it much worse...

And remember that overactive lumbar erectors and hip flexors are taking load off the abs and glutes... Just for a 'personal cue' i.e. make sure to get your abs braced and full of air when your DL'ing and really focus on squeezing the glutes, especially at lockout.
I'll try to do that stretching like you told me to do, things are a chaotic for me right now so maybe this Sunday I can give you an update.

OK. I think if you can figure out where that lower body flexibility comes from, it would tell us all we need to know. Then it would just be a case of stretching out the hips to restore some lost ROM and really stabilising that lower back. Just do the toe touching thing, except start with your hips moving back and STRICTLY keep the chest up (this will keep your back straight) and see if you get as far. If you were just 'bending down and touching your toes', then i doubt it was coming from the hips....

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Post by ironmaiden708 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:45 am

I tried touching my toes with a totally stiff/straight back. I couldn't do it. Not even close.

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Post by KPj » Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:49 am

ironmaiden708 wrote:I tried touching my toes with a totally stiff/straight back. I couldn't do it. Not even close.
That's good to know. One thing that will help you a lot is to be extra conscious of it i.e. when you pick something up from the floor, don't flex the lumbar spine. Either move at the hips or if you can't get the ROM, do a single arm single leg RDL which is how most golfers will pick things up if you ever watch in on TV. Picking up and putting down weights, sitting posture, etc etc - sure you know what I mean. It's most likely all the little things that causing the most harm, as opposed to lifting form or anything like that.

Basically, you want to avoid lumbar flexion all together. There's probably always going to be times where you need to flex at the lumbar spine (think MMA and the likes) but if your always conscious not to do it, then it will always be minimal.

Deadlifts with good form is still one of the best things you can do to make your core work as it should and strengthen the posterior chain. Pull throughs with a straight back are also a great exercise for this.

It's also going to help you if have decent isometric strength in the core. As much as isometrics take a lot of stick, there are times when it's useful. Especially when you consider that your core and lower back especially is almost primarily there to transfer force from the lower to upper body (as opposed to creating force). So it makes perfect sense to do some isometrics.

Front and side bridges will encourage everything to work as it should. I've saw it being recommended that people with lower back pain should do front and side bridges every day. Also saw the same for stretching the hip flexors, quads, and activating the glutes. All of it makes sense.

In my opinion, one of the best exercises for strengthening the abs/core is over head squats. The first time I done this, the following day felt like I had dedicated the whole workout to abs, due to the pain I felt.

Again, this is all food for thought, a bit all over the place but the take home points is to stretch and mobilise the hips, minimise lumber flexion, target the core a little more (you could just add overhead squats somewhere), add in some front and side bridges (you can throw them in at the end). And as always, hammer the posterior chain.

It's really down to you how brutal you want to be with correcting it... If I were to prioritise anything it I would in the following in order,

1. Hip Mobility (including regular static stretching) - Amazing things happen when you loosen up the hips. You could hit the nail on the head and get Magnificent Mobility.
2. Ab / core and glute strength (to stop the need for compensation by the erectors). Think dead lifts, squats, over head squats, even reverse crunches, bar rollouts.. Isometric strength - front side bridges.
3. Foam rolling - your bound to have lots of tight muscles in and around the hips that would really benefit from foam rolling.

I always make these things sound like a lot more than they really are. It's just a few modifications / additions here and there.

Just so you know where i'm coming from with my views on this, here's a Cressey newsletter. It really all comes from Dr McGill. You can also find stuff on this site about him (lower back tidbits if memory serves).


http://www.ericcressey.com/newsletter28.html


KPj

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Post by TimD » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:31 am

KPJ, interesting to note the 1 leg RDL for picking things up off the floor. Ha. I've got arthritus in the right hip, and thats about the only way I pick things up off the floor these days. Good hear I'm not alone.
You know I disagree about avoiding lumbar flexion at all costs, and so do many coaches, we'll leave that one alone. However, you did make a statement
Quote
In my opinion, one of the best exercises for strengthening the abs/core is over head squats
End quote
Yes, yes, yes. . It's considered a full body exercises by many, not just for abs/core, hips quads, but for the shoulder girdle as well. That one is in my warm up every session.
Tim

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:06 am

I was debating whether to jump in here or to start a new thread about low back pain. But first I wanted to clarify a couple of things.

1. What is "1 leg RDL"?

2. Tim, you talk about using overhead squats for warm up. What weights do you use for this? Relatively light, I presume. You do them everyday? Not just "squat days" or however you organize your spit?

3. KPj, what is "foam rolling"?

4. Although I can imagine what you mean by "front bridges," how do you do them? Side bridges?

OK, OK, that's more than a couple of things.


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