stretching vs neural activation

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robertscott
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stretching vs neural activation

Post by robertscott » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:05 am

as many of you are probably aware (due in no small part to my constant whining), I suffer from back pain which ranges from can't-move-from-the-couch-for-three-days to a low level ache that is present most days.

I find my back gets really achey when I do a lot of walking, so say I need to walk into town to do stuff, by the time I get home my back usually aches like hell.

What I found was that if I do a few sets of hip stretches, stir-the-pot and bodyweight hip thrusts before I leave the house, my back will not ache like it would normally do.

However, recently I have experimented with not doing the stretches, and just doing the activation stuff, and the results have been the same.

So I guess my question is this: is there much point in stretching? I have never really noticed any benefit from it, whereas the relief I feel from the activation stuff is pretty much instant and VERY noticeable.

A lot of experts that I have read about actually say stretching is overrated, and given my recent experiences, I am inclined to agree.

I'm wondering what everyone else's opinion on this is?

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Re: stretching vs neural activation

Post by KPj » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:32 am

Need to rush off but, I liked the post. Quick response....

Stretching is good if you need it. Useless if you don't.

Babies/toddlers don't stretch, they just use the ROM they have....

Plenty of people have restricted ROM because the brain puts the brakes on the muscles. The brain says "stop" because it senses a threat (of falling over). This situation can cause a feeling of tightness. "tight" can mean anything. It's just a feeling, though, nothing more. It may call for stretching and it may not. Hamstrings a great example as the majority of the time they don't need stretched.

KPj
Thanks TimD

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Dub
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Re: stretching vs neural activation

Post by Dub » Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:57 pm

Nowadays I also believe more in the dynamic side of things. Meaning that when Full range of motion is used in any exercise, it will serve as a strech and improve mobility as well. The more you do it, the more you can move. It's pure logic. When taking the eccentric portion as far as possible without breaking form, that's the point where the muscle is longest at the time. I don't care if you can statically do better, it's no use if it's not part of the movement. It's been proven that in example squats with quite the full ROM do their work at improved mobility, flexibility and lessened "tightness". Dynamic stretches have also the benefit that you won't lose the explosiveness and drive from the muscle before a workout. Usually mobility issues are important to practice on the beginning of a workout if you intend to improve.

But I think we shouldn't ditch and dissmiss the actual static stretching either. It has it's place in some occasions. It just may not be the most important thing when it comes to flexibility and mobility.

Foam rolling and SMR -work is an oddball to which I can't really comment on. It seems to work and loosen places up, but does it involve improved mobility or flexibility etc?
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medic002
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Re: stretching vs neural activation

Post by medic002 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:41 pm

Sorry, strictly speaking unrelated but TENS machines can be effective for joint and lower back pain - I know it isn't your question but it has helped in my personal experience

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Re: stretching vs neural activation

Post by robertscott » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:02 pm

KPj wrote:Need to rush off but, I liked the post. Quick response....

Stretching is good if you need it. Useless if you don't.

Babies/toddlers don't stretch, they just use the ROM they have....

Plenty of people have restricted ROM because the brain puts the brakes on the muscles. The brain says "stop" because it senses a threat (of falling over). This situation can cause a feeling of tightness. "tight" can mean anything. It's just a feeling, though, nothing more. It may call for stretching and it may not. Hamstrings a great example as the majority of the time they don't need stretched.

KPj
why do I get the feeling that tomorrow somebody is going to write a very long post on this subject?

As usual Kenny, we will be all ears.

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Re: stretching vs neural activation

Post by robertscott » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:08 pm

Dub wrote: Foam rolling and SMR -work is an oddball to which I can't really comment on. It seems to work and loosen places up, but does it involve improved mobility or flexibility etc?
I wonder about SMR. It's an absolute lifesaver, but I wonder about the long term. I mean, surely you need to address the reasons why you have all those knots in the first place...

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JasonJones
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Re: stretching vs neural activation

Post by JasonJones » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:05 am

Sitting for 8-12 hours a day shortens the hip flexors and stretches the gluts. If your gluts are being stretched for 8+ hours a day, how will stretching the hips for 30 seconds balance out that equation effectively? Even rigourous SMR isn't going to be able to outpace the damage done by 8 hours in a compromised position. Without a balanced diet of strengthening and activating exercises, it's impossible to reverse the hip imbalances that are causing pain.

Stretching on it's own doesn't do anything. If you want to end pain, you have to restore balance, which involved looking at the hip structure and correcting the malfunctioning relationships. Stretching can be a valuable tool to reduce activation in overactive tissues as a part of an exercise treatment plan, but it has to be but one piece of the puzzle.
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Re: stretching vs neural activation

Post by robertscott » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:24 am

I'm starting to wonder now if it's possible to do too much SMR...

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