Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Charlie Reid

Resistance Flexibility

Recommended Posts

Charlie Reid

Do any of you have experience or thoughts about Resistance flexibility? The physiology and mechanisms seem logical, but wanted to get some feedback from the forum on this one if anyone has any salient thoughts. The two camps that seem to employ this technique are Bob Cooley (www.meridianflexibility.com) and www.ki-hara.com. Dara Torres claims to use this to help her recovery and range of motion. Essentially, the technique involves starting in a shortened position and maximally contracting while the muscle is eccentrically lengthened either by a partner or by yourself.  Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joshua Naterman

Preview of my recommendations, which come after my review of Bob's book:

 

"Buy Kit's book Stretching and Flexibility"

 

 

So, the way that Bob describes things is, in a disturbingly large number of ways, highly inaccurate. He may also be lying about some of his credentials, as I could not find his name on any paper with Dorothy Voss.

 

That doesn't mean it isn't there, I mean it may be an unpublished piece, but it may also just not exist. You cannot rely on his book for reliable information regarding how and why these work.

 

I own the book, and I will refrain from commenting on the many outlandish claims Bob makes regarding immense psychological changes, organ systems, etc etc, other than to say that there is no research at all on this. I know others will have much stronger expressed opinions in these areas, but I choose to keep mine private. What Bob has done in his book is basically showing you how to use your own resistance to turn Yoga positions, and a few classical stretches, into full ROM eccentric contractions. That's it.

 

There's a reason the book is so cheap... the price accurately reflects the primary value of the content. For those who are not heavily, and I mean HEAVILY, into New Age philosophy, the book will completely drive you mad if you read the words, and you will probably have a very hard time not burning it. It was very difficult to actually read through the whole thing for me, but I felt that I couldn't give an accurate review unless I did.

 

 

For one thing, this isn't stretching per se. This is repetitive eccentric contraction training. The available research does, however, support the idea that this increases ROM. There is not a huge amount of research, so all mechanisms are not known. Bob also thinks that Fascia is not innervated, when we know that there is no tissue more densely innervated than fascia. In fact, there's even a promotional quote from a doctor, on Bob's site, saying exactly that. Contradictory, to say the least. Don't get me started on the rest of his physiological references and claims, I want to stay civil.

 

Again, Bob's book is not much more than a lot of new age philosophy, along with his love for the number 16, layered onto instructions for how to use Yoga maneuvers to provide eccentric contractions for your body. He also shows some pretty reasonable partner stretches.

 

 

Stepping away from that book, let's take a look at eccentric contractions:

 

Full ROM eccentrics: The physiological concept is good and is a very different mechanism vs PNF, as PNF is primarily about reprogramming neural limits on flexibility, while full ROM eccentrics elicit structural changes in muscle fibers AND in the various layers of connective tissue inside and surrounding the muscle bellies. My own experiences using this CONCEPT over the past few weeks have been extremely positive. In my opinion, for maximum effect they should BOTH be used.

 

 

My recommendation:

 

Warning: This is not a simple explanation, because you need to understand what you are doing when you perform certain stretches.

 

1) Buy Kit's book "Stretching & Flexibility"

 

Kit's methodology is much, much better, and Kit uses actual science to explain what's going on.

 

You get walked through all the details, you have excellent pictures as a guide, and there's a DVD available that will really show you everything in full motion.

 

Furthermore, nearly all of the stretches he uses can easily be modified (many don't even need to be modified) into full ROM eccentric contractions, should you want to do so. You just use the same muscle you are stretching, while you're stretching it. The trick is simply to yield to the stretch with resistance, not to fight the stretch.

 

2) Supplementary books

 

i) Anatomy Trains:

 

You have to think about what you are doing, and why. To make the most of this, you need to take advantage of the fascial trains (diagonal
patterns, spiral patterns, straight patterns).

 

 

ii) Perhaps pick up a PNF training guide. Kit's material is probably going to be enough, but if you feel like you still don't understand, something like the 3rd edition of Facilitated Stretching can be a good addition to your library.

 

3)  Eccentric-only training

 

This is a more complicated subject. TO understand how this works, and what the proper application most likely is, you need to understand how eccentric contractions differ from concentric and isometric contractions.

 

Maximal resistance is not necessary, and is probably not a good idea for high volume. Comfort should always be your guide.

 

To keep things simple, I would use Kit's stretches for nearly all of your work, particularly limbering and the once per week hard stretch.

 

All I can tell you about the eccentrics is what I have done myself, because there are zero established protocols for this.

 

 

 

My experiences using full ROM eccentrics thus far:

 

For one thing, you need to use these fairly frequently if you want to see any real cumulative effect. 3-4x per week.

 

Another important thing to know is that you can hurt yourself if you do too much, too soon. You should probably do 2-3 sets one day the first week, building up intensity each set, with the last set being as much resistance as you can comfortably handle. Same the second week, and do just  a single set 2-3 days per week the third week. It takes time for your body to adjust it's microstructure in response to intense eccentrics, so caution is your friend here. You CAN overdo it. You may not have noticed, but this is basically the same way that you should introduce to someone to regular intense exercise.

 

It doesn't take much per session to see positive results. I've been doing a single set of 5-10 eccentrics for hamstrings. I have actually gained flexibility quickly enough that I have stopped doing this almost altogether, simply because I have had a hard time balancing the hamstring flexibility with hip flexor flexibility. I would be getting better results if I were doing 2-3 sets, but more than that would just be too much. At this point I do a single set of each hamstring stretch twice per week, followed by Kit's hip flexor stretches. This allows me to maintain pretty good flexibility (though not great yet, because I'm not actually trying to increase... I can put palms on the ground with locked knees)

 

Productive hip flexor eccentrics tend to require a partner, which is inconvenient when you don't have one who is willing to help you out regularly. The best I have found so far is to simply lie on your back in an open doorway with the following configuration: Lying on back, perpendicular to wall; Left butt cheek against the door jamb; Left leg vertical on the wall; right leg in the open door space.

 

You start by basically moving into a supine L sit (raise your right leg to meet your left) and then your partner pushes your right leg into the ground. Your job is to resist, of course. You'll have to lock your knee and keep it that way, and I tend to take 5-6 seconds to get to the floor because of the large angular distance, sometimes taking more like 10 seconds. I do 4 reps per leg for one set on the left leg, and two sets on the right (because I have uneven anterior tilt).

 

I only do this a few times a week because that's how often I see her right now, due to school schedules.

 

I am about to go to the gym and experiment with an idea I had this morning while cleaning my room, but for now I will say that I have found that you MUST, MUST, MUST balance your hamstring flexibility with hip flexor flexibility. Failure to do so will cause severe anterior tilt.

 

I have found that this has rapidly evened out my anterior tilt, and that it stays this way now. My posture is different, and I believe this has helped significantly with my recovery.

 

Kit has excellent hip flexor stretches in his books, I HIGHLY recommend that you get them. You can definitely turn them into eccentrics, but nothing works for me or my girlfriend as well as what I described above.

 

I have also used this concept for posterior capsule and anterior capsule stretches, self-spotted German hang negatives, self-spotted standing scales, etc... and I have had absolutely stellar results. I actually do this for a fair bit of the iM work in F1, and it has been good for me.

 

I also use PNF techniques, which are what Kit takes advantage of. I find them to be very important.

 

To properly explain how this works, according to what I know so far, I would have to write a small book. If I were to describe the nuances of the shoulder and hip stretches, it would be come a pretty intense project, and I don't have time so that's not going to happen any time in the next 4-6 years.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris Hobbs

A number of years ago, back at the end of '07, I went to see a Resistance Stretching practicioner here in the Bay Area. The good news is the guy I worked with was straight forward about the flexibility training ... no new-age woo-woo. :) My mobility/flexibility has been a thorn in my side for a number of years and nothing has seemed to work/stick. It was actually why I first ended up over here at the end of '08 - My Intro Post.

 

The short synopsis of this approach was I made some decent initial gains in flexibility - after a few sessions I could touch my toes, but no further gains after that point. I found the sessions very intense and tiring with little benefit over the longer term. I would gain a bit during sessions, but nothing would ever stick. Quite often things would even regress if I pushed hard.

 

Looking back now it would seem I was just not targetting the right areas, despite having a personalized routine created for me with my consultations. It is possible that now that I am finally ironing out some of my issues thanks to Kit's "Overcoming Neck and Back Pain" that the Resistance Flexibility approach would have some benefit, but at this point I haven't re-integrated to find out if that is the case.

 

- Chris

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Charlie Reid

Very thorough review, thanks guys. I have Kit Laughlin's book but i'll give it another look. I have found good results from the Contract-Relax styles of stretching, but also think that resisted stretching could also have its place in recovery/tissue quality, but not necessarily for increasing range of motion. I also have Kurz' book "Stretching Scientifically" which has an excellent scientific review of a variety of stretch protocols from static passive, static active, dynamic, relaxed, etc. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joshua Naterman

Personally, my experience thus far has been that the full range eccentric stretches SHOULD be performed as a stretch, that you absolutely have to keep the volume low each session (this is not terribly different from rehab in general), and that, as you found, initial gains are much faster than longer term gains. Also, I don't necessarily buy into the "full range eccentric" all the time. I do use that sometimes, but when stretching alone you're not going to get effective resistance until you get into the last 20-30% of your ROM, and in my experience that's just fine. I also recommend approaching this stuff exactly like strength training: Don't do more than 20-30 reps per muscle group per session, do much lighter resistance on off days (active recovery), and don't try to push super hard in any one session. Let the results come incrementally.

 

I think that Kit's program should really be the core of a stretching program, with full ROM eccentric stretches as something extra that you do every so often, perhaps just on the hard stretch day.

 

Kit's program is effective and takes little time compared to other effective protocols, yet it continues to yield long-term results. I think this is largely because Kit's program is in tune with both modern stretching research and the body's response to high intensity eccentric contraction. If you look at how Kit structures the hard stretch day, you get to your "end ROM" and then put a hard 10s isometric contraction, and at the end of it you yield into a deeper position. I don't know about any of you guys, but I have yet to do this without eccentrically contracting, and I don't know why you would WANT to.

 

This is essentially the same thing, done at the end ROM, which is how I have been doing a lot of the "resistance stretches" as well.

 

I do light work most days, though I've been quite lazy the past 8-9 days or so, and work into my known full ROM just like Kit suggests we do on "limbering" days. Then, every so often, I actually do a hard session.

 

To me, the eccentrics are tissue rehab. I do notice a difference in tissue quality, which is nice, but I also notice that (just like any exercise) it's easy to overdo it without realizing you went too far at the time.

 

That is why, again, I think that Kit's program should really remain at the center of our stretching. There are other things that can, quite possibly, add to the results, but you have to be careful with volume and intensity.

 

 

 

 

 

I don't know how those practitioners approach the resistance stretches, but they are eccentric exercise. High intensity, frequent, high volume resistance exercise is contraindicated in every study I am aware of.

 

You can do it frequently, but it shouldn't be high intensity and the volume should not be high. You will probably be best served doing a few light reps on most days, spending most of your time on Kit's PNF-style stretches for limbering, and doing Kit's hard stretch once per week.

 

Literature does show that eccentric exercise causes increased joint ROM, but it's not necessarily any faster than anything else. I'm working on writing a prospectus to present to my department to investigate this by comparing PNF with the resistance stretches directly. My professors think we probably only need a 3-4 week study. I would prefer 8-16 weeks, but we'll see what they think. Long studies are harder to keep up with.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RatioFitness

Sliz, what is your opinion of Tom Kurz's methods?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joshua Naterman

Kurz is good. His book is not as methodical as Kit's, and isn't as accessible. Stretching scientifically doesn't show progressions, and doesn't give you all the details on what you need to be doing to get the most out of your stretch, though Kurz does tend to warn you about major mistakes.

 

I think that Stretching Scientifically is a good book, I mean he does PNF and standard static stretches, along with (for those who need it, like gymnasts) active flexibility work like lifting your leg in front of you as high as you can and holding it. He also briefly mentions dynamic flexibility (basically ballistic flexibility), which is primarily a concern for martial artists and is honestly a pretty straightforward thing: If you want to kick high, you need to practice kicking high (without hurting yourself).

 

He briefly mentions that flexibility involves a high degree of neuromuscular coordination and selective contraction, which is great and true, but doesn't talk about how to really develop any of that.

 

You get the feeling that, were you to pay him, he would be one of the ideal people to learn from, but I think that his book lacks the hand-holding that beginners really need, as well as the details that really ensure you can succeed.

 

Edit: I feel like with Kit, not only is he also one of the ideal people to learn from, but his products are really designed to do everything possible to make you feel like he is right there with you, every step of the way. That's a big difference to me.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quick Start Test Smith

I'm having a hard time getting my head around the concept of eccentric movement... would an example be lying on my back, pulling my straight leg towards my chest stretching my hamstrings, but resisting the movement a little throughout it?

 

After re-reading Josh's description of the eccentric hip flexor stretch, I think I understand it now. I wonder if you could use body bands instead of a partner for some of the partner required stretches... 

 

Do you think those "power splits" that coach has used for his athletes are an example of eccentric stretching?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fluidity

I'm having a hard time getting my head around the concept of eccentric movement... would an example be lying on my back, pulling my straight leg towards my chest stretching my hamstrings, but resisting the movement a little throughout it?

 

After re-reading Josh's description of the eccentric hip flexor stretch, I think I understand it now. I wonder if you could use body bands instead of a partner for some of the partner required stretches... 

 

Do you think those "power splits" that coach has used for his athletes are an example of eccentric stretching?

Actually what you mentioned first was an active stretch. Pull a straight leg up towards your chest would recruit the hip flexors and quads to do the movement and at the same time they are resisting gravity, so as a result the hamstrings and glutes are stretched actively due to muscle tension from resisting gravity(just think of it this way, one end contracts while another end stretches in active stretching). 

 

Body bands a definitely useful for resistance stretches. I like using them on my shoulders since its easy to set up and they can be used for loading the shoulders while in a passive stretch. Body bands can also be used for practically any other type of passive stretch out there. Just adjust the resistance of the band you need for the amount of loading required for your stretch. Oh and when using the bands don't confuse a PNF protocol of contract-relax, with a passive loaded stretching protocol of contraction while the muscle is being stretched.  Both are are useful methods, just know the difference.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quick Start Test Smith

Actually what you mentioned first was an active stretch. Pull a straight leg up towards your chest would recruit the hip flexors and quads to do the movement and at the same time they are resisting gravity, so as a result the hamstrings and glutes are stretched actively due to muscle tension from resisting gravity(just think of it this way, one end contracts while another end stretches in active stretching). 

 

Body bands a definitely useful for resistance stretches. I like using them on my shoulders since its easy to set up and they can be used for loading the shoulders while in a passive stretch. Body bands can also be used for practically any other type of passive stretch out there. Just adjust the resistance of the band you need for the amount of loading required for your stretch. Oh and when using the bands don't confuse a PNF protocol of contract-relax, with a passive loaded stretching protocol of contraction while the muscle is being stretched.  Both are are useful methods, just know the difference.

 

Thanks for the response, Fluidity. I don't think the stretch I mentioned first was an active stretch because I meant that you'd use something like a band or your arms to pull your straight leg to your chest, not your hip/leg muscles. Sorry for not making that clear.

 

Good to hear. I will be careful to distinguish between the PNF protocol and the eccentric stretching protocol! Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joshua Naterman

There's actually a lot of eccentric stretching hidden in gymnastics, and I think that is part of the "Secret" behind why Gymnastic Strength Training™ creates such a well-balanced body.

 

One really obvious example is lowering down into a German hang. I spent a lot of time on this, both because it felt good and because I wanted to develop a really good one. I did, and I was able to exlocate right out of it into back into a dead hang, in front of the whole seminar a year ago.

 

This same mobility, I think, is what allowed me to learn the slow inlocate so easily (combined with some pretty immense internal rotation strength,which I have always had for whatever reason).

 

Simple things like sliding down into the splits, slowly, resisting gravity as you go down (like on a pair of super sliders or Valslides) on a regular basis can really improve your all-around ability within all skills that use the movement ROM.

 

Just don't lose focus here in this discussion... stick with the iM movements and Kit's work. It is proven to work, and is easy to use.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quick Start Test Smith

Don't worry, Josh. This is only as a small addition to my F1, HS1, and S&F work. I won't lose focus on my core program.  B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×

Important Information

Please review our Privacy Policy at Privacy Policy before using the forums.