Even if we all prefer to lie on the floor as a firebreather and get sweaty and everyone in the box is in the handle: A strenuous WOD is not all that counts. Sure, a workout is more fun. And a workout also releases a higher level of happiness hormones. And we look better after a round of heavy deadlifts than after three minutes in the sphinx position. We got it: stretching is useless. And yet regular stretching improves body awareness, posture and performance.
Reason 1: More freedom of movement for demanding movements
What do bodybuilders have that functional athletes tend not to have? A locked shoulder girdle, a squat that is far from any below-parallel perspective, and range of motion issues. The whole thing has two main reasons: Firstly, the training goal is the look, for athletes in competitive sports the goal is fitness for performance. But our performance is also affected by our range of motion. That's why it's important to prepare your body for everything that may come up in the workout on the competition floor. You have to be flexible to do that. Some flexibility on stage after weeks of dieting and intense tanning, while useful, isn't essential.
Second, the distinction between bodybuilders and other strength athletes is the following: The training stimuli are different. A bodybuilder stresses on machines, works out muscle parts. It doesn't matter whether it's weightlifting, MMA or kettlebell sport: the number of ballistic exercises, i.e. exercises with dynamic weight progression and a high degree of explosive power, is large.
Speed and explosive power can only be developed if the muscle can use its full range. When the muscle "locks up midway" there is less power transfer.
So stretching increases performance as soon as you train dynamically.
Reason 2: Harm Reduction: Fewer injuries in sports
We are not coaches. But as sports-loving people, we know exactly why many of you can no longer pursue your favorite hobby or job for a while: the biceps tendon is torn, your knee is straining, your neck doesn't want to do it anymore. While many of these injuries come from pure overuse, some have other causes: the body, circulation and muscles were not warmed up enough and prepared for the movement pattern to come. This can be avoided both by the circulation-promoting effect of regular stretching and by the neuronal link between movement and performance.
In plain language, this means that stretching also works like a kind of dry run before the first swimming lesson. Your body is preparing for the fact that it will soon start. This means that the movement under load is no longer as complex to control as it would be without stretching and heating.
This makes it easier to regenerate after the workout, since the pulse slowly decreases during the cooldown of the stretch, while it rushes from 100 to 0 without a stretch or cooldown.
Reason 3: Endure more pain by stretching.
Stretching is gross. We know. Because a stretch stimulus is like the body's own rubber band, which makes you tense. The energy you need to tighten the last few inches is much greater than when you started the tightening movement. The same is true of stretching. Let's take the Snatch for that. Here, at least roughly speaking, two movements are important: those of the squats and those of the arms, holding the load “behind the head”. It is not for nothing that the snatch is one of the most demanding drills in weightlifting.
But for the right execution, stretching is necessary, and lots of it: The stretching movement overhead also hurts terribly because the shoulders block and do not want to allow this unusual movement pattern. But that is exactly where the challenge lies: fighting against yourself and your weaker self when stretching (in a healthy way). Here the success is not immediately apparent in the moved load, but in a few millimeters more movement amplitude.
Not only do we live more healthily and "safer" through stretching, we also develop more bite, which is transferred to other areas of our training at the same time. Stretching is pointless, but pays off over the long run.
Are there tools to make my warm-ups and stretches more efficient?
It's in the nature of an athlete to always give 100 percent. And fortunately, we live in a world full of equipment. For example, the flow gun can be used to stimulate blood circulation in a specific area of the body. This strengthens the muscles and makes them easier to work on. Not only useful for warming up before the WOD, but also during recovery.
You can use Blackroll products or Triggerdinger products to promote blood circulation in a similar way. Through pressure points and the use of your own weight, you can loosen tension with little movement and start your training more relaxed and pain-free. You can find a collection of useful pieces in the "Mobility" section of our shop!