GTP TV Ep 12: Shift from Static to Dynamic Stretching

Welcome to Goalie Training Pro TV. This is episode 12, I’m your hostess, Maria. I’m gonna keep it pretty short and sweet today. It’s about the shift from static to dynamic stretching. (I thought it was episode 13 because I got a little excited but it’s actually episode 12.)

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So, it’s funny because I was talking to somebody, I can’t remember who, and they’re like, “Oh, my trainer is not a fan of static stretching,” which to me is a little bit like saying, “I’m not a fan of French food.”

Well, it means you don’t personally like it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad food.

Or, well, “I’m not a fan of kettle bells.” But what if a kettle bell is exactly the right tool to use?

And so, the other side of that coin is to say, “He is a static stretching guy,” or “She is a kettle bell girl.” And you do see people like that, it’s like every single thing is gonna use a kettle bell, or the answer to everything is, “Static stretch it.” And it’s not so cut and dry like that.

So, yeah, it’s almost like arguing what is the best food. Well, you can’t say what is the best food ’cause you are influenced by personal biases. But, I don’t normally find somebody who’s, “I only eat French food.” So, I hope you understand that.

I guess a better analogy is, again, a toolbox. Your toolbox has a hammer, and wrenches, and screwdrivers. You can’t just say, “Well, I’m not a fan of the hammer.” It’s, yeah, but sometimes you just need a hammer, and that’s perfect for it, rather than trying to beat the crap out of something with a wrench.

So, there are all these tools. And of course, we have a preference for some tools, probably because we feel more competent with them. But it doesn’t mean that the tools that we don’t like are bad.

There’s also a pendulum in strength and conditioning and fitness in general, actually, that swings usually quite slowly, but it swings. And you’re hanging on for dear life, swinging back and forth. And it goes like this.

“Oh, long, steady cardio is the best, because it builds a base. You need that aerobic base. You need mitochondrial density, the capillarization. It’s the best.”

Then, to, “No, no, no, no, no. High intensity interval training. Everything should be high intensive interval training. You should never, ever do anything slowly.”

And some people live way out on the outside of the pendulum, some people live way out on the other side of the pendulum. I gotta try to stay in the middle. You know, just try it on. Does it work, does it help our athletes, do our athletes get better with fewer injuries? Then we put that in the toolbox. If it’s like the shake weight, that’s not going in our toolbox. So, there is a pendulum.

Like, five years ago… I still sometimes get emails from people, “I saw you bouncing in a stretch, and that’s terrible.” But five years ago, let’s say, or two or three years ago, bouncing was the devil. If you were stretching and bouncing, I don’t know what was going to happen, something really bad.

But now it’s come back around to, well now, dynamic stretching is good and static stretching is the devil. So, it’s hard.

And I think one of the reasons that flexibility is really hard is, with a strength protocol for example, I use Cal Dietz’s triphasic training periodization for our elite players in the summer. I can do that, and I can see what the athlete achieved last year in terms of testing, strength testing, power testing, speed testing, mobility testing. Were they better, worse, or no different?

And then we have, we are lucky to have groups of athletes, so we can compare data. As a whole, were our athletes better, worse, or no different? If they are better, then we know, “Hmm, okay, there’s something to this. We think it’s working.” Because we can very objectively measure.

Flexibility is a little bit hard, and people get arguing about what actually, the change is. So, people say, “Well, but you’re not changing the muscle length.” Okay, am I not? I don’t know.

Because really, if I think of how I would do that, the first thing that pops in mind is, yeah, you’d have to cut somebody’s quad out, lay it on a measuring tape, measure it, put it back in, do the whatever program, take it out again, measure it, “Nope, it is not longer,” or “Yes, it is longer. It worked.”

I suppose there might be a way where you could implant markers in the muscle, and then do some kind of a scan. I don’t know if it would be an ultrasound or an x-ray, or whatever, that would show, those markers would illuminate, and then you could probably measure the resting length of the muscle, maybe. Sounds like a little bit of effort to find out if it works.

Even foam rolling, people would be like, “That doesn’t, it doesn’t change the fascia.” Okay, maybe it doesn’t, but here’s what I know. When I have people who roll a lacrosse ball on the bottom of their foot, and you’ve probably see me do this a bunch of times. And they forward bend before they do it and immediately after they do it, they can forward bend further. And I didn’t even stretch their hamstrings, or their back, or anything else that’s really involved, just the bottom of their foot.

So to me, that means there’s something to it. I don’t know, and I sort of don’t so much care. I know that helped, or that improved the mobility.

So again, I think sometimes we get interested in arguing about semantics and, “Oh, how long does that effect last?” And things like that. So in mobility, it’s more subjective. We don’t really measure, we do deep overhead squat and things like that, movement pattern things. So I guess that is the way we measure it. But on a day-to-day basis, it’s really, if the athletes tell me they feel better, and they are moving better, and they are not getting hurt, then we are gonna keep doing it.

So we will static stretch, but we’ll also move as we stretch. Again, there is different tools. So, if somebody is, “You know, I want to use this static stretch tool.” And I used to not static stretch. I’ve probably been static stretching our athletes for, I’m gonna say eight years or so. And I started because Mike Boyle said to. I have great respect for what Mike does. Mike tries a lot of different things. And I think at the time in particular, he’s saying, “You know what, we do it, and I think it helps.” “Okay, well, then I’m gonna try that.”

Here’s what sold me on it and why it’s stayed in our program ever since: we come in, we foam roll, we static stretch, then we do our dynamic warm-up. Before you even think of it, don’t even bother typing, “Oh, but I heard static stretching decreases your power output,” because that was such a blip. And again, the people who actually, like me, who actually read those research papers, not, “I heard from somewhere… there was a study that…”

They did a study looking at vertical jump. And they had somebody static stretch, and then right away go test vertical jump. And there was, I can’t even remember what it was, a 4% or 6%, it was quite small on the vertical jump, decrease in power.

Now, if I’m at the Olympics and I’m doing my high jump, I probably am not going to just static stretch and then go out and do my high jump. So that’s where that seed came from.

What people didn’t bother to look at is the follow-up research, because those articles are boring. But the follow-up research that showed, I’m putting it in a nutshell for you, “If we do a dynamic warm-up after that, that decrement even goes away.” So, that’s not an issue.

So then, Mike said to do it, so we started doing it. It was at a Perform Better Summit. So, I told our athletes, our hockey strong athletes, “Hey, we’re going to do this for two weeks. We’re going to see how it goes. If we like it, we are going to keep doing it. If we don’t like it, we’ll can it.”

So, every day they’d be, “Are we doing that stretch circuit again?” “Yes, we’re doing the stretch circuit again.” The next day “Are we gonna do that stretch circuit thing again?” “Yes, we are doing it for two weeks. If we don’t like it then we can put it away, but we are doing it for two weeks.” Next day “Are we doing the-” “Yes, we’re doing it for two weeks,” you know.

So then, Monday comes around of the second week and a kid says, and he was probably a 15-year-old at the time. Says, “Are we doing that stretch thing again?” Now, I’m getting a little bit sour. I’m, “Yes, we are doing it for two weeks. This is the start of the second week. What about two weeks do you not understand?”

He said, “Oh, that’s awesome, because it feels so good.” I was, “Wait a second. Did I just have a 15-year-old boy hockey player tell me that they wanted to keep doing this stretching because it felt good? Because they felt good after doing it?” That’s it.

But we also move as we stretch, and you’re gonna see it. And this is an area that I’ve been looking at a lot. And I don’t just Google stretches, and then be, “That looks cool. I’m gonna do that. Oh.” And I like Kelly Starrett, too. I think he does some great stuff. I don’t agree with everything, so I look at it, how does this apply to my understanding of physiology and anatomy and biomechanics? But I think he did a great job of starting the conversation.

So, I’ve done Functional Range Conditioning with Dr. Andreo Spina. I’ve done several anatomy trainings courses with Thomas Myers, looking at the anatomy of fascia. Studied the postural restoration and CPRI work. And it is, the science of it is mind-blowing, which is why it takes me so long to integrate these things into your programs. But you can see the changes that have come. Those of you that have been with me the last three years, in particular, you can see the changes. And it’s going to be another huge evolution.

This ELDOA course I just went to was another part of that, creating tension in the muscles and the fascia and even in neuro-stretching. It looks like voodoo magic, but there’s something to it. And again, that will probably be its own little episode.

So, we also will move as we stretch. And probably one of the easiest ones is, we’ll do our half-kneeling growing stretch, but we’ll add in a rock back, because we stretch our muscles in one position but our muscles are never in one position. So, we can do that to effect a length change under control, with a certain posture. But then we also want to take it to moving through that range.

So it’s, “Okay, I could go over all mobility here with my static stretch, but what about when I’m out there? What about when I’m sitting back? What about when I’m rotating my body?” Even if you just do it yourself, that feels a lot different from this. So, we’ll add in those movements.

We’ll also generate intrinsic tension, which was my mobility Monday this week. This is a different example, but I could also use these muscles in the front of my hip to kind of, pull myself into that position and push myself out of that position, contracting the muscles on the front of my hip and the muscles on the back of my hip. I can be pushing down with my foot, generating tension as I move through that position.

So, those are kind of, three or four different ways that we can do one stretch.

What’s the common thread? What’s the bottom line? (Because I’ve gotta leave for my meeting in six minutes.)

Here’s the bottom line. Mindless stretching is dead. And you see it at all levels. You see it in the NHL. You watch guys warm up and it looks so mindless.

Stretching is training. You would not be in the gym doing single-arm cable press like, “Yeah, yeah, so, anyways…”

You’re here, you’re dialed in, you’re strong, you’re stable. You’re doing your pressing. It’s with purpose. That’s exactly what you need to do with your stretching. Your stretching is mindful. It’s focused. It’s purposeful.

And just like if your trainer has you doing, or your strength coach has you doing strength exercises and you’re, “I have no idea what this is for.” You would say, “Hey, what should I be focusing on here? Where should I be feeling this?”

You do the exact same thing with your flexibility or your mobility training. And if you don’t know what muscle it’s for, ask. But if we are doing something and we’re told, “Okay, I’m trying to get my adductor.”

And so I should be feeling it there. I’m breathing, breathing in through my nose, out through my mouth, focusing on that area. If it’s a static stretch, focusing on trying to relax it. If it’s an active stretch, focusing on trying to use the right muscles to contract that you want to be contracting.

So, there’s your bottom line. Mindless stretching is dead. Stretching is training. And especially for you guys, I would say more than any sport I can think of, you need to realize that you need to get that, because it will boost your save percentage, but also extend your career.

No matter where you are now, no matter what level. If you’re an up-and-comer, if you’re college trying to get to the NHL, a junior trying to get to pro or college, or adult league, beer league, this will boost your save percentage and extend your career.

Not a bad deal, eh? All right. This is Maria from Goalie Training Pro. I’m gonna do the dash and get to my meeting.

You guys have a good one. Cheers.