Stretching is kind of boring and easy to forget about, but having the range of motion can make all the difference when trying to increase weight on a lift, master a new skill, decrease your time on a workout, and especially for avoiding injury. Let’s look at a few pictures and talk about what it takes to get there. I will list the ‘normal’ range of motion (ROM) for the joints in question, then say my best guess on what the person is actually doing.
ROM: Normal for the average person knee 0-130 degrees of flexion (bending), ankle 20 degrees of dorsiflexion (pulling your foot toward your head)
If you look at this guy his knees are probably around 150 degrees of flexion when this photo is taken and his ankles are about 30 degrees of dorsiflexion. If he were unable to get into this position he probably wouldn’t be able to get under this weight and if he did get under it he would be at a much higher risk of tearing the tendons/ligaments. What does this mean for you? I know most of us aren’t cleaning 230kg, but you are all trying to achieve personal goals, get bigger, stronger, leaner, faster (BSLF, yes I stole it Jason). To achieve that end it greatly benefits all of us to work on improving our flexibility to get into these deeper squatting positions to work the muscles of the legs and hips in a coordinated and natural way to increase efficiency, weight we can lift, increase work completed, and decrease risk for injuries. So you buy into this idea, what’s next? Spend some time on the slant boards at the gym with your knees bent and straight to hit the different muscles of the calf. Sit in a low squat for 30 or 45 seconds. If you are in question of your squat positioning, ask your coach for help.
This guy’s shoulder flexion (going back past his head) is well over the normal range of 180 degrees and to do a proper kipping pull up you almost always need more than 180 degrees. This can spell disaster for the poor shoulder who just wants to do right by you. If you are walking around with you shoulders sitting in front of your nose and pecs tighter than guitar strings, kipping is a bad idea. This tightness will also limit anything over head, fatigue you quickly and generally make everything harder than it needs to be. So here are some basic stretches you can do at home, work or at the gym:
Slide your arms up and down to hit different portions of your pecs. If your hands go numb, relax and repeat.
This isn’t exactly what I like but you can use your imagination: bend your elbow and turn so you are facing the wall try to get your armpit to the wall. Again, ask for help. These two stretches can make a world of difference in your lifting but more importantly in your overall health. The amount of shoulder injuries and neck pain caused simply because of poor posture and tight anterior musculature is amazing and we do not have to stand for it anymore! Make a goal to do these little stretches 5 times a day for 30-60 seconds each.
Back Squat workout # 11
Followed by fun.