I stopped doing my weekly 1-hour stretch routine. I didn’t stretch after leg day (HUGE mistake). I got lazy with my massage appointments which I used to do bi-weekly to weekly. Got lazy with Epsom salt baths. In short, I prioritised training, eating, and work but not prehab.
There’s only so much stretching/foam rolling/trigger point you can do on your own. For some things, you really do need someone else to get in there and tackle the issue at angles you can’t reach personally.
My two favourite variations are
Sports massage is specifically for treating an injury. It’s not meant for relaxation or full body release. The masseuse will get in there and tackle the problem area. Hopefully helping to fix it.
Deep Tissue Massage (full body)
A full body release. The masseuse works into the muscle fibers, releasing tension and build-ups. Not for the faint-hearted if you’re having it done properly. I ask for them to go as hard as possible and do my best to take the pain, afterwards I feel great.
Mobility (or stretching) is important to preserve muscle length and help increase muscle length for more demanding movements. If you’re bodybuilding like me then you’re constantly breaking down muscle tissue, this muscle tissue comes back bigger but also tighter than it was previously. So it’s important to stretch to ensure you don’t get too tight.
That being said, if we’re training, cooking, eating and everything else demanded of a non-pro athlete then how do we find the time to stretch? There’s two ways I like to stretch to keep on top of my mobility while avoiding spending hours on end stretching.
Stretching After Leg Day
Leg day is the most important day to stretch after. When your legs get tight, your quads, glutes and hamstrings, they affect how you move in everyday life, how you stand up, how you bend down, and that can, in turn, put more pressure into your lower back. I’ll hit a stretch for quads, hamstrings, glutes and hips each for 60 to 120 seconds after leg day.
Specific Mobility Sessions
These are for actively improving your range of motion and for fitting in some upper body stretching where you might not after workouts.
10-90 minutes dedicated to stretching and mobilising.
I recommend an online membership website called ROMWOD that has a database of mobility videos of varied length and target areas. Or, you can search YouTube for routines and more specific move for if you have a problem area.
I injured my back, so for me, this one was specifically for backloading exercises. This one came from the coach. For you, it might be for another muscle.
5 second eccentric, 5 seconds concentric. For a squat, this would mean taking 5 seconds to move from the stood up position to the bottom of the squat, then 5 seconds to reverse.
The idea is that the slow movements make even the lightest weight feel heavy, allowing you to hit failure, and provide some stimulus to your muscles for growth (or whatever your goal is) without having to load up on a heavyweight that will aggravate your injury.
Try it, it’s more painful than full load exercises!
Pretty obvious one. When sat down – sit upright, don’t slouch. When moving in the gym, bend at the knees and hips – not the back. Pull your shoulder blade back and push your chest out.
Helps with muscle pains, soreness, and inflammation. Epsom salts have magnesium and sulphate, it breaks down in the bath and goes into the skin and to the muscles
My tips are – as hot as possible, the heat gives energy to the particles which helps with diffusion into the skin. At least 20 minutes. Allow it to soak in. 300-1000g, if you do them regularly 300g is enough but if it’s once in a blue moon then load up to 1000g.
There are benefits of using the sauna alone, but going straight into a cold shower afterward has even more benefits.
The heat from the sauna increases blood flow to the muscles and skin, which straight after a workout helps break down your lactic acid build ups from the workout.
Then when you go straight into a cold shower all that blood that’s been pushed to the muscles is sucked back to the heart.
The combined effect is a complete flush of your blood around the entire body.
And the improved blood circulation will help reduce inflammation and fasten muscle recovery.
Some muscles don’t like to do the work. And it’s different for everyone. Sometimes if you’re getting pain or an injury in one place it’s because an excess strain is being placed upon it because another muscle isn’t doing it’s job.
For me, the lower back was taking pressure as the glutes weren’t activating. Find out what the weak link in the chain is for you.
Start your workout with some very light, high rep work for lagging muscle to get it ‘activated’, ensuring maximal engagement in the main workout.
If I knew the last 7 points, why didn’t I do them? I didn’t prioritise. Or rather I prioritised something else.
This goes hand in hand with being ‘aware’ of your bodies status quo at any time. Can you feel an injury coming on? Have you been training hard and heavy for a long time? do you have a lot of work at the office coming up? If you are aware of the requirements placed upon you then you can autoregulate certain things. For example, I’m training 5 times a week and do some stretching after workouts and a mobility day, things are about to get stacked at the office, so rather than try to keep up 5 weight training sessions a week and fall short on my mobility by accident I’ll plan to reduce my weight training to 3 times per week so that I can still get in at least 1 or 2 good mobility sessions.
The other thought is laziness. Prioritising getting out of the gym to get home for your tv show or the pub rather than spend 15 minutes stretching. Also, peer pressure plays a part here.
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