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This article is (sort of) a continuation to the article on Exercise, Recovery, Regeneration and Movement (Part 1) and Hamstring Injuries, the Iliopsoas and Imbalances (Part 2)
The term “stretching” has changed over the past decade as we have seen many variances in stretching. See Stretching: More on Static, Dynamic, Active Isolated and Resistance Stretching and More on Stretching – Microstretching.
Even PALO, which incorporates stretching + movement, is taking off with great results and I’ll explain why later.
In terms of specific muscles to stretch, you can refer to The Psoas Major Muscle: the Forgotten Hip Flexor as well as Hamstring Injuries, the Iliopsoas and Imbalances. If you don’t have access to an on-site physio, you can always devices like Massage, Recovery, and Massage Sticks and the Foam Rollers for your trigger points.
But it might not be all about muscles.
Because it all comes down to WHAT you are stretching… and WHY.
Stretching Muscle or Fascia?
The last time I checked my Histology notes (which I took in 1982 with Dr Hershey Warshawsky), there are four types of tissues (i.e. cells) in the human body: neural, muscular, epithelial and connective tissue. Connective tissue goes by many names: tendons, ligaments, membranes… even bones and teeth!
Fascia is a connective tissue and hold the bones, muscles and organs in relationship to each other. You can even say it’s the “glue” that holds your body together. With gravity, there are 2 ways to support objects, including your body: compression and tension. The pillars on a bridge is compression. The wires on a suspension bridge is tension.
If you took a course in Anatomy, you will find the fascia is one long piece if connective tissue starting from your toe, legs, hips, back, neck, base of your head, and all the way to your eyebrow. It’s all connected, and technically, it’s all one piece. (Thanks to Gerry Ramogida for that excellent lecture and slide show)
However, if I pulled your sweater by the arm sleeve, you will notice the distortion is not equal. The section closest to my pull will show the greatest distortion. Moreover, when the sweater rips, it will rip on the weakest part of the fabric, and not where I pulled. So when you “pull a muscle” (or fascia) to the point of injury, it may not be the actual part of the stress, but the weaker part down the chain. A pulled hamstring may not be “caused” by the hamstring, but rather elsewhere (covered earlier here)
More than fifty years ago, Dr. Rolf recognized that the body is inherently a system of seamless networks of tissues rather than a collection of separate parts. These connective tissues surround, support and penetrate all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Rolfing works on this web-like complex of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the whole body.
PALO – Why it works
I think Fascia shouldn’t be ignored, then again it shouldn’t be the one-all be-all item on your to-do list either.
A lot of folks are talking about fascia but they are talking about fascia in static and passive sense and not in a dynamic active sense. What makes fascia so cool is its tensegrity ability. Tensegrity is what brings fascia to life and that is how PALO works. Stretching + movement.
What the heck is Tensegrity?
Tensegrity is a word that describes structures able to distribute stress throughout the whole body – meaning there is no "weak point" in the entire structure. You can do a Google search for Tensegrity structures in the construction & architecture industry and you’ll see how it distributes strain across the entire structure. Apply the same techniques to your human body.
And going back to the first paragraph of this article, it’s all about balance and alignment. Otherwise, you’ll get injured.
Thus you can hit the weight room, get super strong to allow greater force production during ground contact time, but there’s more to the whole story to make you run faster to get personal bests.