The Secrets and Science of Extreme Flexibility.
I tried (and failed) for years to do the splits. When I finally did get flexible enough to hit the splits, that flexibility would often be fleeting, vanishing for weeks at a time. Where did all my hard work go? What am I missing? It turns out, I was missing a lot. For example, I didn’t realize that 50% of flexibility comes from the central nervous system rather than the muscles themselves. I also didn’t realize how seriously my nutrition was affecting my flexibility. When I started using science, things got a lot easier. Flexibility is money in the bank for injury prevention. Doing side splits will improve your deadlift. Ankle flexibility will improve your squat. Shoulder flexibility will improve your handstands. But there is a right way and a wrong way to stretch for injury prevention. There is also an easy way and a hard way to get flexible enough to do the splits. Most importantly, there is a way to keep your hard earned flexibility so it is available to protect you in your sport at all times. Here’s a short video that shows some of the information ahead.
The following articles and videos contain everything I’ve learned about flexibility.
Whether you are a martial artist, gymnast, dancer, or power lifter, this information WILL improve your end game. Read on.
Eccentric Neural Grooving and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
When I started incorporating ENG and PNF into my stretching, results came incredibly fast. But I also found that my flexibility was fleeting. Some days, I could hit the splits easily, but other days, I couldn’t even get close. I also learned (the hard way), that static stretching before strength training or speed training set me up for strains, sprains, and other soft tissue injuries. I realized there were many different ways to stretch and timing was everything. The following series of videos, tips, tricks, and protocols represent years of research, trial, and error. I have been able to maintain extreme flexibility even after gaining 20 pounds of muscle.
Start by watching this introductory video. Oh, and by the way, you’re getting this course for free, so you can disregard my polite “thank you for buying my course.” You’re welcome.
This guide is broken down into 4 sections.
- Section 1: Passive Stretching
- Section 2: Proper Warm Up
- Section 3: PNF and ENG explained (with some tips, tricks, and examples)
- Section 4: A sample dynamic stretching session
- Section 5: Extra tips and Nutrition
Section 1: Passive Stretching
The first video series demonstrates passive stretching exercises that you should do at least once per day. Do them either right after you wake up or right before you go to bed. Incorporating them into your morning or nightly ritual will ensure that you create a new habit that will stick. Additionally, doing the stretches near sleep time will send a strong signal to your nervous system that adaptation is in order. You must gradually increase your passive stretch hold times. This will signal to the body that adaptation is necessary.
Wait a minute. This course is supposed to be about doing the splits. Why am I stretching all these other weird body parts?
There is science behind every movement in this program. Inflexibility in certain areas of the body will trigger central nervous system warnings (pain) that will affect your splits. Pain is often referred from one muscle to another. Your brain can’t tell the difference between a warning sign from referred pain and a warning sign from an acute problem. BUT, the nervous system knows there is a problem, so it takes steps to protect you by giving you a nice dose of tightness, pain, or sometimes even spasm. If you’ve ever had a sore back or neck, you know the “guarded” feeling that makes you incapable of fully relaxing. This “guarding” is a self protective measure, but often referred pain is the culprit for inflexibility. Here are a few examples.
- Wondering what pecs have to do with your splits? Tight pecs cause forward shoulder rotation, which can lead to mid thoracic mobility restrictions.
- What about trapezius? Tight traps often lead to forward head posture, which puts added weight on the cervical vertebrae. If you’ve ever had a knot between your shoulder blades, there’s a good chance tight traps had something to do with it.
There are many examples like this, which is why you will have the most success in this program if you follow the protocol and perform ALL of the stretches. If you follow this system, you will be amazed at what your body can do!
Section 2: The Warm Up
Warming up before you stretch is the key to getting flexibility fast. Now, you will learn the right way to warm up. This is the exact warmup session that has proven to get me doing splits without fail. I’ve tried many variations, but this protocol get’s all the necessary muscles firing. If one of these exercises is difficult for you, then you likely have a weakness or imbalance that needs correcting. The exercises themselves are very corrective if done properly and often.
Attention! Important tips about warming up prior to training
- Avoid excessive passive stretching prior to strength training. Instead, do a warmup. Excessive passive stretching can reduce the elasticity of your tendons and ligaments which is not ideal if you are about to run, jump, or lift heavy stuff.
- Passive stretching is best done after your workout or some other time of the day and not immediately pre-workout or pre-sporting event.
- End every warm up stretch with a contraction of the muscle you just stretched. This activates the muscles and connective tissues so they can better do their jobs and helps to preserve elasticity of the tissues.
Section 3: An Explanation of Neuromuscular Facilitation and Eccentric Neural Grooving
Before we move on the the dynamic stretching portion of this guide, it’s important that you understand NMF and ENG. Let’s dive in.
Eccentric Neural Grooving: key points and benefits
- Eccentric Neural Grooving trains lengthened muscles under tension. This is accomplished by using eccentric training in order to induce both tissue and neural adaptations with the ultimate goal of improving movement control. Eccentric training is the “negative” portion of the movement, when muscles are being lengthened under load; (for example slowly lowering the weight after a dumbbell curl.)
- ENG improves quality of movement by helping the nervous system lay down the foundation for more complex motor programs and patterns that are used for the creation of movement. ENG is central nervous system training! Thank goodness for neuroplasticity!
- Most muscle injuries occur during eccentric contractions. Based on the Law of Specificity, doing eccentric training will teach the nervous system to better control eccentric muscle actions.
- The tissues adapt to optimize generation of torque at more extended joint positions to limit the potential for further damage. The muscle is therefore better able to operate and maintain stability at longer lengths, thereby reducing the likelihood of injury.
- We are able to groove the neural path for the concentric movement, since it will require the same physical path, only in reverse. All joint angles, proprioceptors, mechanoreceptors, cellular communications, etc., will be activated in the eccentric movement, thus beginning to groove the neural circuit that is needed to produce the concentric movement.
- Builds strength alongside flexibility
- Helps you better “own” your movement by training the nervous system for improved muscular control.
- Desensitizes nervous system from pain that occurs when involved nerves adhere to structures through which they pass.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation in 4 Steps
- Step 1: Positioning
- Step 2: Contraction 5-6 secs
- Step 3: Relaxed and controlled stretch 20-30 seconds
- Step 4: Repeat
- Note: PNF is highly effective in increasing both flexibility and strength simultaneously.
This video explains and demonstrates PNF and ENG.
Section 4: Post Warm Up Dynamic Stretching
The warm up session is essential prior to a dynamic stretching session. Alternatively, you may perform the dynamic session post workout.
Section 5: Nutrition and other tips.
Nutrition and supplementation for Flexibility
- improves muscle flexibility by helping to regulate muscle contraction and more importantly, muscle relaxation.
- Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM
- improve joint flexibility by nourishing tendons, ligaments and cartilage
- Lots and lots of cruciferous vegetables
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and bok choy are superfoods for muscle recovery and nervous system function.
- Drink a minimum of a gallon of water per day per 150 pounds of body weight.
- Hydrated muscle tissue is more flexible. Period.
- Avoid the following foods, which shut down your nervous system and impair muscle function
- processed carbs, sugars, corn syrup
- hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated oils
- nitrates and nitrites found in lunch meats and many sausages
- pizza. Sorry. Nothing in pizza will make you more flexible.
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