Article: Stop Stretching! By Dr. Stephen Gangemi, a.k.a., The Sock Doc

Discussion in 'vBCms Comments' started by Neil_D, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Neil_D

    Neil_D Chapter Presidents
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    Great article Stephen,

    I guess I have been a habitual stretcher although I have been trying the wean myself off it. Before my run now I just do some dynamic warm-up movements.

    Do you hold the same opinion about stretching after some exercise has ceased? This is where I do most of my stretching these days, as part of a cool down post exercise.

    I've got a slight injury at the moment that may be stretching related, in my ankle. I must have fairly flexible hips as I can squat down with my feet flat on the floor and gently lean forward, this stretches around the achilles and ankle. I now have a pain in my right ankle and I think it may have been the stretching that started it off. There is a muscle/tendon that travels from above the ankle, around the inner side and attaches to the top of the foot, I think I have weakened this by stretching.

    I thought that by stretching more I would solve the problem but now I don't think so as it aggrievated the situation.

    Funny how the philosophy back when I started running was that if you didn't stretch, your muscles and tendons would shorten and you would end up with a short running stride (which incidentally we know is now better anyway). I guess this was a myth that still gets propogated today by all kinds of running/fitness magazines.

    Regards



    Neil
     
  2. JosephTree

    JosephTree Barefooters
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    Thanks for the very clear and emphatic explanation of the issue. I have come to agree, as I learned to run BF more or less in the ideological shadow of Born To Run, which also disparages the truth of the stretching legend.
     
  3. macmhagan

    macmhagan Barefooters
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    I'm following the Soc Doc's recommendation on trigger point therapy to get rid of Achilles tendon pain and it's working. I don't stretch. I start running with the same 180 cadence but very short strides to warm up for a mile or so. Then I sit and massage my calves and below the calves (not the tendon!) and it all loosens up, no more pain, and I can run run run. So listen to the Soc Doc - he knows.
     
  4. Alejandro 10

    Alejandro 10 Barefooters
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    Stephen,

    Thanks for the read. I am curious what you make of Yoga. Some of it seems to be glorified stretching to me, on the one hand. On the other, other asanas do seem to strengthening the core, or another muscle group.

    Thanks again!

    Gracia y paz,

    a
     
  5. Barefoot TJ

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    Hi, Dr. G. hit upon that. Above, he wrote:

    Yoga? Let’s first say that yoga and stretching are not the same thing, yet many people associate the two because that is how it has unfortunately evolved in many areas. Most yoga classes today have students trying to force themselves into a yoga pose they are not ready to do and they overstretch. This is Westernized yoga and not the way it was intended to be. Yoga is intended to relax the entire body with certain poses and deep breathing resulting in inner harmony and focus on one’s self, not to stress your body out by stretching it in shapes you are not ready or able to do. So yoga may be beneficial if performed in a controlled fashion, within your means, and within the yoga philosophy.
     
  6. CPT Hoolie

    CPT Hoolie Barefooters

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    What's the basis for saying things like "Typical stretching routines will still weaken muscles and promote injury"?

    My (limited) research on the internet indicated that pre-activity static stretching can reduce strength. However I didn't see anything about pre-activity dynamic stretching, nor post-activity stretching.

    One thing is for sure, if I didn't do post-activity stretching, I'd never get more flexible.
     
  7. Alejandro 10

    Alejandro 10 Barefooters
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    Barefoot TJ said



    "Hi, Dr. G. hit upon that. Above, he wrote:

    Yoga? Let’s first say that yoga and stretching are not the same thing, yet many people associate the two because that is how it has unfortunately evolved in many areas. Most yoga classes today have students trying to force themselves into a yoga pose they are not ready to do and they overstretch. This is Westernized yoga and not the way it was intended to be. Yoga is intended to relax the entire body with certain poses and deep breathing resulting in inner harmony and focus on one’s self, not to stress your body out by stretching it in shapes you are not ready or able to do. So yoga may be beneficial if performed in a controlled fashion, within your means, and within the yoga philosophy."



    That must have been just after the point when my wife said we had to get going. I'm going to finish the article now. Don't I feel like a horse's patoot!

    a
     
  8. Barefoot TJ

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    Ha! A horse's patooty! That's funny!
     
  9. the800

    the800 Barefooters

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    This is something I have been thinking about for a while, given that I have always been terribly inflexible, and was wondering if muscle type and bone structure factors in the equation at all.

    These days I do consider myself relatively healthy, and eat almost entirely fresh and natural foods, almost no sugar, refined carbs or caffine and do a lot of running injury free barefoot. I don't spend much time stretching.

    When I was younger I was naturally good at the sprints, and had explosive starts at the beginning of races. I was told I had "fast twitch muscles" and ran some sub eleven second 100m's junior year of high school. Not world class by any means, but decent for high school.

    All I know is that I stretched A LOT when I was younger to almost no avail, and anyone who has ever worked on my mucles, be it a maseuse or a physical therapist has always commented on how tight they are. I have trouble just touching my toes!

    Sometimes I wonder if it has more to do with my bone structure and my muscle type, like anatomically something is somewhat amiss, my torso is too long, my legs too short, the ratio is not quite right, or something like this, like I'm subtly deformed to some degree. It doen't really affect my running though and I'm still capable of speed. Just thought I'd throw that ou there. I'm currently training with the goal of breaking 2 minutes in the 800 and it's going well.
     
  10. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

    Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc Barefooters

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    Great to hear, thanks macmhagan!
     
  11. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

    Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc Barefooters

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    Alejandro 10

    Re: Yoga - I mention that in the article (this is one of those post you gotta read twice.)
     
  12. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

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    Neil, the best after exercise or race activity you can do is an aerobic cool-down. At least 10, if not 15 minutes. Same as the warm-up. No stretching before, no stretching after. Lions eat their prey after the kill, they don't sit around and stretch first. Then they sleep. I haven't seen a lion with a hamstring problem, unless the Discovery Channel is editing them out. (Sorta joking on some of this last part, of course!)
     
  13. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

    Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc Barefooters

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    CPT Hoolie

    I don't quite understand your question because you ask what the basis is for saying that stretching weakens muscles and then you note that your research found that it reduces static strength. Do you mean that you only have seen this research with static and not dynamic stretching? Static definitely tends to be worse, though dynamic can be a problem too.

    A lot of my "basis" is treating many people from all walks of life, including professional athletes in many sports, for 12+ years. Stretching makes them worse. During a thorough manual muscle testing evaluation, stretching only does one of two things - nothing or makes them worse.

    If you "need" to stretch to stay flexible, you've got a problem. And as explained in the post it's stemming from somewhere else - stress on your nervous system because your body is out-of-balance via poor training, footwear, diet, emotional stress, physical stress, or some other stressor.
     
  14. Barefoot TJ

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    Dr. G. mentioned that stretching was okay to do by gymnasts and such. I would think Karate would fall into this category. I was a gymanst. I also think that stretching is less damaging to young people than it is to older people, so I could see where I didn't have any problems stretching when I was a kid or a teenager in gymnastics. I wasn't breaking down back then, like I am now. [​IMG]
     
  15. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

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    Correct, sports such as martial arts may benefit from certain stetches. But as a whole, athletes still do too much too often and you'll gain greater flexibility and health by addressing the other factors that influence muscle imbalances as mentioned.
     
  16. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

    Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc Barefooters

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    Bare Lee, it sounds like you're not overdoing the stretching I think one of the main points (of many) that I wanted to address is that if you NEED to stretch, something is not right. So if you're stretching to "stay loose" then you're really just masking some other problem that needs to be addressed. A healthy person does not need to stretch. They may want to, and it's okay to do it within one's means, but it should not be needed as prevention of anything.
     
  17. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

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    Yes if you're sitting at your desk a lot as most people are, it is always good to get up and move around. Walking is best, and light stretches moving your body through normal ranges of motion is fine.

    If you're going to do that "leg on the wall" stetch, which, similar to the Hurdler's Stretch, is perhaps one of the worst stretch you can do, make sure you contract your quads when you stretch forward, as I note in the article.
     
  18. tao.of.gemini

    tao.of.gemini Chapter Presidents
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    What a wonderful article! As a Doctor of Oriental Medicine-Acupuncture Physician , Qigong/Tai Chi Instructor,Yoga teacher and trainer, barefoot runner & trainer... this is a direct philosophyi use with all my patients, sports injury rehab, etc... Thanks for your contribution!
     
  19. Bare Lee

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    Thank you again for your response. If possible, I'd appreciate two further clarifications.

    You said that "light stretches moving your body through normal ranges of motion is fine." Are you here referring to the kind of daily stretches we all do naturally, just like cats, dogs, and babies--kind of like a corporeal yawn?

    Also, when I stretch out my leg up on a wall (at shoulder or head level), I'm pretty sure I'm contracting my quads, and my foot is pulled back toward me. Can I assume that since I have been able to do this without any pain for twenty plus years (indeed, it is sometimes almost painful not to do it), that I am safe in continuing to do it? In the NYTimes article, Dr. McHugh stated that people who are able to become (very) flexible through stretching are probably genetically predisposed to stretchiness, and that seems to be true in my case.
     
  20. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

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    Yes on the "corporeal yawn" - and a great way to put it!

    Re your second question and if you're safe to continue to do that, it's tough to comment on that. One could say yes because you've done it so long and "gotten away with it" and one could also say no because it is causing a problem that you may not even know about. I'm not trying to dodge your question, hopefully you know from the tons of free advice I offer I am probably the last to do that. But we never do something just because it has "worked for me this long." It truly might be okay but I will always say if you have to stretch, then there's a problem. And since you say it is sometimes painful not to do it, I'd say that sounds like a problem to me. Ever use a foam roller on the hamstrings or The Stick? See how that feels running up and down the entire back of your leg. I think that is much more effective & therapeutic than stretching.
     

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