Is Stretching Necessary?

Discussion in 'Flexibility, Mobility, and Movement' started by Marcus Aurelius, Dec 13, 2017.

  1. Marcus Aurelius

    Marcus Aurelius Triple-Digit Post Count

    Hello All,

    Is stretching necessary if nothing feels tight and movement quality is good? Would it be beneficial to do it anyways just as a safeguard?

    I do allot of mobility work but not stretching per say.

    Thank you, Marcus
  2. Kettlebelephant

    Kettlebelephant Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    From what I've read start doing it once you hit 30. You probably don't need it before that, but once you are 35-40 and older things start to get tighter and tighter. When you have already been creating the habit for 5-10 years it's not hard to continue when the time comes when you need it.
  3. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    @Marcus Aurelius
    IMHO, yes this is necessary. Depending on the moves you are doing, sooner or later, as time goes by, you are likely to get tighter. Then, this is some kind of "prevention"

    Plus, you'll notice some improvement in daily life (pick something up from the ground, get something down on the ground, etc...) All your moves will be smoother and "easier". To a certain extent, I consider I have "more energy" when I move better.

    Mobility and flexibility training also improves coordination, balance and create some "muscle balance". They help me to recover faster (combined with breathing, nutrition and daily way of life).

    Kind regards,

  4. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Certified Instructor


    Or - Yes. Example: S&S 90:90 and QL stretch

    If you don’t do them (because you think you don’t need them), your back or butt may bite you. They are stretches designed not to improve something, but prevent something.

    I suggest to mix and match: mobility, loaded mobility and stretching - you will find out what suits you best.
  5. Marcus Aurelius

    Marcus Aurelius Triple-Digit Post Count

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  6. Abdul-Rasheed

    Abdul-Rasheed Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    From Pavel: 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts

    Faleev stresses that you must wrap up each strength workout with static stretches. “The benefits of stretching are enormous. Stretching can increase your strength by 10%. It is a lot.” The man explains that “when you lift a weight your muscles contract. And after the workout the muscles remain contracted for some time. The following restoration of the muscles’ length is what recovery is. Until the muscle has restored its length, it has not recovered. Hence he who does not stretch his muscles slows down the recuperation process and retards his gains.” Besides, tension and relaxation are the two sides of the same coin, “if the muscle forgets how to lengthen, it will contract more poorly. And that is stagnation of strength.”​
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  7. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    I would also at least have a look at the material in Relax Into Stretch, Felxible Steel, and Super Joints...
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  8. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Certified Instructor

    Exactly. The great advantage is that they are part of one system, i.e. compatible with everything else we do in StrongFirst.
    Kiacek likes this.
  9. Tarzan

    Tarzan More than 500 posts

    I know I should stretch but in general I don't. I was really flexible as a teenager and I could do scissor splits and box splits but now I can't even get close. I can still bend forward and put my chin on my knee but most the of other flexibility is gone now.

    These days the only stretching I do is for my hamstrings after snatches or swings and now I'm getting back into the grip work I do a lot of finger tendon stretches and wrist extension stretches. If I don't stretch after that type of training I just don't recover very well at all.

    The main reason I don't stretch is because it causes way too much pain in the opposite muscles to those I'm trying to stretch. I don't even get much of a stretch in the muscles I'm trying to stretch before the pain in the opposite muscles kicks in and puts a halt to proceedings.

    I have a copy of relax in stretch and I followed it religiously for over 12 months but that opposing pain always seemed to overwhelm the stretch, so I just gave up on it. I've severed all the ligaments in my knee and two of the hamstring tendons are severed as well, so the more I stretch the looser my knee gets and leads to dislocations.

    I'm not kickboxing anymore either, so I have no need to do high kicks. So for me it's way too time intensive for such little benefit & I just don't bother.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
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  10. ShawnM

    ShawnM More than 2500 posts

    I personally don't stretch at all. However, something I don't put in my log is the amount of bodyweight movement I do throughout the day. Squats, push ups, single leg DL's, chin ups, arm circles. I'm not a fan of static stretching, I much prefer dynamic movements.
    Tarzan likes this.
  11. IonRod

    IonRod Triple-Digit Post Count

    I don't stretch much, but I try to find the minimal effective dose and I think it is highly individual. So, for me, for example I know I like to do the lunge stretch and I feel like it helps my posture. I also always do some kind of forward bend/hamstring stretch since I feel quite tight there after sitting all day. I occasionally do some T-spine stretch because it feels goooooood and frog pose because I want to do splits, but don't want to work hard to get them :p
    Tarzan likes this.
  12. Shahaf Levin

    Shahaf Levin Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    It depends

    I stopped stretching and doing "classic" mobility work about a year ago. My mobility and stability has improved and became more consistent over that period. But that does not mean there is a cause and effects (no stretching -> better mobility). My main lift is the bent press, I do allot of OS work, sleep without a pillow, sit on the floor, I do loaded mobility (armbars, light getups, goblet squats), carries, crawling, some club work and finish practice sessions feeling stronger than I started.

    So, is dedicated stretching necessary? Personally I don't think so. I think general joint alignment and health and mobility and control are a must. The specific tool used is, like any tool, depending on various things.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2017
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  13. elli

    elli More than 2500 posts

    I think what often is messed up are the differences between mobility and flexibility.
    As far as I know flexibility is connected to muscles and mobility to joints.
    If you have tight muscles you will not be able to
    a) make them 'longer' by stretching
    b) move your joint through a full ROM (which can be trained)
    It does not make sense to work on both until you have loose and smooth muscles.
    Foam roll until tightness has gone. Then work on joint mobility (because now no tightness is holding you back) and then maybe stretch. If you move your joints freely agonist and antagonist will be worked and respectively be stretched at the same time (to put it simple).
    If you feel like you need some extra stretching prepare the muscles and do a short foam rolling or shake out your limbs.
    Once you have found the point at which everything feels balanced find the MED to stay there. From my point of view you should not spend more time on stretching and mobility drills than on practicing.
    Exception to the rule would be Yoga - in my eyes. It is the 'whole package' because it includes breathing, balance and up to a certain degree even strengthening.
    Okay...was that too much talking off topic?
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  14. Kiacek

    Kiacek More than 500 posts

    I love stretching, I definitely feel better quality of movement from my stretching practice.

    Personally what I've found works for me is complexes where I do a group of similar stretches before moving on to the next complex (like I'll do hip flexor stretch, then move into extended hip flexor stretch, then do couch stretch, then get on the floor and do bretzel. That would be my complex and using bretzel might make me consider moving into an Armbar complex next).

    I enjoy my stretching routine better than my workout a lot of times.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2017
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  15. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Well said, @elli ! I totally agree.

    When muscles feel like wood, you are missing out. Stretching can be a wonderful tool. But as @Steve Freides pointed out one time, "the goal is to relax the muscles, not stretch them." That's why Pavel's book is called "Relax into Stretch."
  16. Marcus Aurelius

    Marcus Aurelius Triple-Digit Post Count

    I know I've only been stretching since Wednesday but I do have an opinion.

    I've been doing only mobility for years and I feel great.

    The parts of my body that I never knew were tight were my calves, hamstrings and whatever the rear hand clasp stretches. I felt so great and not stiff the next morning.

    Also, stretching is helping me relax before bed.
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  17. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Certified Instructor

    My general advice would be:

    - do you love stretching? Do you stretch all the time? > you probably don't need it
    - do you hate stretching? Do you avoid stretching all the time? > you probably should stretch
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  18. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @Anna C, I've been following this thread - a longer missive from me is coming, just haven't been around much but hope to get to it later or tomorrow.

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  19. Carl in Dover

    Carl in Dover More than 300 posts

    When I think of relaxing my muscles I think of a hot tub or massage....

    Carl in Dover
  20. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    I still don't have time to that lengthy missive, but I will expand a little on what @Anna C said.

    There is a continuum of muscle tension. Many people live exclusively in the middle: they cannot "do" maximum muscle tension, nor can they "do" deep muscle relaxation. They cannot "do" much except their own activities of daily living.

    Learning to move the dial from the center is important. Here at StrongFirst, our focus is on learning to move the dial to the right (in my little mental image), towards more, better, coordinated, controlled muscle tension. What sometimes gets overlooked in our discussion is the fact that moving the dial in either direction teaches the body an important, albeit obvious, lesson, namely, "Hey, you can move the dial from the center." When you've learned you can move the dial from the center, it's not so hard to figure out that if you can move it one way, you can also learn to move it the other way. That "other way" is true muscle relaxation, which manifests itself as flexibility.

    The way to make the "move the dial to one side and then the other" most effective, the way to become flexible in a position you can't currently achieve, is to get as close as you can get, move - because moving requires strength - and then relax.

    That's a too-short explanation to serve as instructions, but that's it in a nutshell.

    Yes, you should stretch.

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