Are you stretching? Are you stretching too much? The core of episode 97 delves into the short and long term effects of stretching, differentiates between the athletes in various disciplines that should be stretching more, and who should be stretching less.
You can lose power and performance capability if you are over or under the optimal length for any given muscle. We discuss yoga and the appropriate way to practice it.
Our primary guest is Menachem Brodie, the owner of Human Vortex Training. Menachem has over a decade of strength training and coaching experience. He has coached at a high level in cycling, and he began in his own cycling career as a strength and skill sports competitor. It was only after injury that he found cycling, and then he merged his strength training background with his new passion for cycling to bring those worlds together.
In today’s episode, Menachem tests Trevor’s flexibility, which is awkward and painful, but you can try it as well. As you’ll hear in this episode, Menachem has graciously gifted a chapter of his new book, “The Vortex Method: The New Rules for Ultimate Strength and Performance in Cycling,” to Fast Talk listeners. Download it for free here.
Also on the podcast today to discuss the ways he integrates stretching into his training and racing is Red Bull athlete, and fellow podcaster, Payson McElveen. Check out his pod “The Adventure Stache.” Payson is a two-time marathon MTB national champion, and a budding star in the gravel racing world. Now, don’t get all bent out of shape, let’s make you fast!
- McGowan, C. J., Pyne, D. B., Thompson, K. G., & Rattray, B. (2015). Warm-Up Strategies for Sport and Exercise: Mechanisms and Applications. Sports Med, 45(11), 1523-1546. doi: 10.1007/s40279-015-0376-x
- Medeiros, D. M., & Lima, C. S. (2017). Influence of chronic stretching on muscle performance: Systematic review. Hum Mov Sci, 54, 220-229. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2017.05.006
- O’Connor, D. M., Crowe, M. J., & Spinks, W. L. (2006). Effects of static stretching on leg power during cycling. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 46(1), 52-56.
- Wolfe, A. E., Brown, L. E., Coburn, J. W., Kersey, R. D., & Bottaro, M. (2011). Time course of the effects of static stretching on cycling economy. J Strength Cond Res, 25(11), 2980-2984. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318234e55f
Welcome to Fast Talk developed news podcast and everything you need to know to ride like a press.
Chris Case 00:11
Hey, everyone, welcome to Fast Talk. I’m your host Chris case today in Episode 97. Our guest is manakin. Brody. Trevor, tell us a little bit about Menaka.
Trevor Connor 00:21
We have had a knock him on the show in the past. He is the owner of human vortex training and has over a decade of strength training and coaching experience. It was only after injury that he found cycling and then he merged his strength and training background with his new passion for cycling. To bring those worlds together.
Chris Case 00:38
We’ve heard from Menaka in Episode 69 in the past where we discussed functional training, but today we’re going to talk about something completely different. The core of this episode delves into the short and long term effects of stretching differentiates between the athletes in various disciplines that should be stretching more, and who should be stretching less. You can in fact, lose power and performance capability if you are over or under the optimal length. For any given muscle. We discuss yoga as well and the appropriate way to practice that discipline. manakin also will test Trevor’s flexibility, which I gotta say, pretty awkward, pretty painful to watch.
Trevor Connor 01:16
We have photos of me looking like I’m flipping you off upside down. Yeah, that’s
Chris Case 01:20
pretty awkward and painful as well. Check them out on our social media. Our handle is at real Fast Talk Labs.
Trevor Connor 01:27
As you’ll hear in this episode. monogame has graciously gifted a chapter of his new book too fast dock listeners. Visit the Show Notes for this episode to get that link. You can find all Fast Talk episodes and the show notes on our website. fasttalklabs.com slash Fast Talk.
Chris Case 01:45
Also, on today’s episode, we speak with one of my favorite Red Bull athletes, a fellow podcaster hasten McKelvin, check out his pod, the adventure stash wherever you like to find your podcast. patient is a two time marathon mountain bike national champion, and a budding star in the gravel racing world. Now, don’t get all bent out of shape. Trevor, let’s make you fast.
Chris Case 02:17
Well, it’s great to have manakin. Brody back on the program. You’re sitting in Tel Aviv, I believe. And you’ve been on our show once before. Thanks for coming back to Fast Talk monogame
Chris and Trevor, thanks for having me, man. It’s a real pleasure to be back. I’m really excited to be here and talk about stretching and everything that has to do with muscle lengthening,
Chris Case 02:36
I know that you’ve you’re about to launch a new book, the vortex method is there much on the way of stretching education in that book,
there’s a little bit and this is something like 2019 was kind of the year that I flipped the switch and went from consumer to producer The book has actually believe it or not, I started writing it about four years ago. And it started with the whole thing with stretching where I was going through physical therapy for a really badly sprained ankle. And they kept telling me stretch, stretch, stretch, I’m like, that doesn’t make sense. And I actually started from that and built it out. And then we tore it down over the last five and a half, six months completely rewrote it. The idea is that it’s the most complete training approach for strength training. So you’re not just getting strength training, but you’re also getting insights at as to what you actually need to do on the bike. So really giving you a balance between the performance limiters and response to training. So power output and the energy equation, because that’s where a lot of us think about stretching, well, if I get better resting muscle length, I’ll get more power. So we kind of go through that stuff. And it really lays out the whole training year and allows you to understand what you actually need and how to tie everything together. So it was a lot of fun to write. When I say fun. There are a couple other words that come to mind as well. I’ve been Yeah, I’m really excited between that. And the certification course that we just launched and had a couple other courses that that have been in the works. It’s been a really big year in the vortex method, the idea is getting it the power to the hands of the people. So they can actually go out and do this stuff and realize it’s kind of like you’re looking at a through a window in the garage that you’re cleaning out. And it’s kind of a little ray of sun coming in. Well, that’s where strength training for cycling is right now. And now you’re just wiping off the whole window. You’re like, oh, wow, there’s treasure in here and realize that was golden bronze. Holy cow. Awesome.
Trevor Connor 04:26
So, Chris, and I’ve been a little bit familiar with the book proposals, the thing that the publishers always ask is, how to how do you differentiate your book in two sentences? How’s your book different from other books out there?
Well, the subtitle is the new rules for ultimate strength and performance in cycling. And that’s what it is it’s giving you section one is the fundamentals. So we’re talking about the strength training basics, the special considerations for women, which we are thankfully seeing more people out. And then section two is going through and giving you the actual methods of how to build a training plan. So you’re not just getting samples. You’re actually learning the different parts of the actual training program, and how to put them together for yourself. And you’re where you are in the training year and your capabilities to get the most impactful powerful strength training program possible.
Chris Case 05:13
I’m glad you could give us that that overview and talk about the genesis of the book when it comes to stretching. And I know Trevor sat down last night with his snifter of cognac to read some studies on stretching as well. So let’s dive in, shall we? Let’s dive into stretching a little bit more. Trevor, tell us some of the things you learned last night when you are looking at the most current research on stretching as it pertains to cycling. So this
Trevor Connor 05:42
is where I say do I get my bonus for stretching is about relaxing. So I got my Barry White boys today. Yeah, I apologize ahead of time. If I cough through this a little bit. I’m a little under the weather. So we did an episode on cycling and staying healthy. Apparently, everything I said was BS. So ignore that episode.
Chris Case 06:05
That was one of your first ones, right? Yeah, we’ve come a long way.
Trevor Connor 06:09
There you go. And I’m still sick. There are times when I dive into the research getting ready for a podcast and think I have a pretty good grasp on it. And as I start reading the research, I go, wow, this is really fascinating. And I get really excited about it. And this weekend was one of those cases where I read the some of the research I hadn’t read on stretch anyone to actually really cool. There are a lot of opinions and we’re gonna really dive into our opinions on stretching, there’s for and against. Some people say just don’t ever stretch other people say, yeah, you should be sitting, this probably going too far. This is outdated, the sit on the mat and do 2030 minutes of stretching before you work out. But what did surprise me is actually how little research there is out there. I actually read one review that was done in 2017. That said, basically, this is the reverse review done in 10 years, they tried to find high quality studies on the effects of stretching on performance and muscle performance. And they couldn’t do any statistical analysis because they couldn’t get enough homogeneous studies. Then you add to that the fact that Cycling is actually different from other sports, which we’ll go into right cycling has no escentric. Most cycling doesn’t have a stretch shortening cycle. What I’m hoping to do right now that I think is going to be really interesting is we talked about stretching and stretching is helpful for recovery, or it’s helpful for performance, you just think well lengthens your muscles, but what actually are what is going on when you stretch?
Chris Case 07:44
Yeah, let’s do that.
Trevor Connor 07:47
And what are the potential benefits. So what I’m going to do right now is just summarize those three. And then the rest of the podcast gonna be talking about is there actually something to this is are there benefits, where I think monogamy is really gonna take and run with it, the three things that happen when you stretch. And there’s also we can talk about stretching, and what’s the immediate effects afterwards, versus chronic stretching, where it’s part of your routine and what happens over 678 weeks. The first effect is what’s called an increased stretch tolerance. And this both there’s there’s a short term effect and a long term effect. So if you get on the ground, you stretch your quad, and let’s say you do a long, three, four minute hold, there’s a certain point where all of a sudden, it just feels like the muscle releases. And you can go deeper into the stretch. Mm hmm. What’s happening we’ve talked about this before on the show is you you have what are called Gogi tendons, appropriate receptors that stretch, sense lengthening and shortening of the muscle, and they try to protect a muscle. So if they feel muscles getting to stretch, the Golgi tendon is actually going to activate and cause the muscle to contract prevented from being lengthened to mature and being damaged. So one of the effects of stretching is to get that Golgi tendon to relax and say, Okay, I’m going to let you take the muscle a little bit further. Mm hmm. There’s an immediate effect. But there’s also a belief that over time you essentially kind of reprogram so that you have a greater tolerance of just letting the muscles stretch out. Kind
Chris Case 09:13
of like drinking more gain tolerance over time.
Trevor Connor 09:16
Yeah, that helps performance to say in some ways, I
guess maybe it depends on how often you gotta have somebody push you along the road for a couple minutes.
Chris Case 09:25
Yeah, right. Exactly.
Trevor Connor 09:28
Oh, I’m all for next time Chris and I go and race up Flagstaff have a couple drinks before me. Yes. What
Chris Case 09:33
kind of drinks alcoholic drinks.
Trevor Connor 09:35
We’re talking about cotton cognac earlier.
Chris Case 09:38
Maybe I’ll save that till after I when I defeat you. Whoo.
Trevor Connor 09:48
I gotta make sure we’re descending when you got the disease. There.
Chris Case 09:52
Yeah, okay. Okay, I hear you.
Trevor Connor 09:54
So, Second thing, and this is I’m going to use an analogy. That’s almost Not an analogy, think of a muscle. So the muscle and the tendons combined think of them like an elastic. Because a muscle actually does have what is called disco elastic properties, it’s designed to have that there is a certain efficiency in really good evolutionary design muscles are designed to stretch, you take some of that energy, mm hmm, into the muscle into the tendons. And then just like an elastic, so you stretch in elastic, you let it go, it snaps back it rebounds. So he takes that energy that you put into it, and uses that energy to help the contraction. Mm hmm. When we walk, when we run, when we do most activities, we take advantage of some of that return of energy to help any sort of movement to help any sort of contraction case where you can see what happens if you don’t have that viscoelastic properties, you will often see an elderly, they really lose that there’s no snap back of the muscles. And that’s when you start seeing elderly people start doing kind of a short shuffle, walk, because the only way they can produce the movement is pure, actual contractions. And it gets harder. So just like another elastic band, when you think about these viscoelastic properties, you think about an old elastic, Mm hmm. And you stretch it and it kind of you start seeing a little bit of tearing in it and it loses some of that energy and doesn’t snap back as well as a nice young, brand new, supple elastic. Right. So that’s we talked about this when we were talking about tires and tire pressure. That’s histories, right? So there is history says in muscles where they will actually, history says that loss of that energy, though, dissipate as heat. So there is a belief that if you have a very inflexible muscle, you’re going to have more history sets, and you’re not going to see as much return of that energy. People who believe in stretching, one of the things we’ll say is, it changes as visco elastic nature and creates a an elastic that’s more supple that’s easy to stretch and really snaps back well. The third thing is, and this is only really in chronic stretching, is what they call the addition of sarcomeres in series. So let me let me dive into and explain this one. So you might have you remember high school biology in your muscles, you have these little proteins called actin and myosin that grab on to one another and pull each other closer. So that whole unit is called the sarcomere. And when you look at a muscle, there’s multiple units is multiple of the sarcomeres in a row in a muscle, and that’s what gives the muscle that red white with red white look. Hmm. So one of the beliefs is that as you stretch the muscle and it becomes longer, it actually adds more sarcomeres. So think of that, as you are now adding to the length of the muscle, more contractile units, which can improve the contract of force of the muscle, not necessarily strength, but it’s more the belief as it might give you some of that explosive, more explosive power.
Chris Case 13:11
That sounds like a good thing.
Trevor Connor 13:12
It is a good thing. So that’s that taking that elastic and actually making it us Yes, elastic, they can snap back in Right, exactly the issue with this. And we’ll we’ll go into, there’s a lot of issues. And I know monogame sitting here just waiting to jump on this. Over time you’re lengthening the muscle. And there is in any sort of movement and optimal length. So again, if you think of an elastic if you have a really long elastic, so let’s say you have a seven inch long elastic, and you’re only stretching it to five inches, right? It’s going to be kind of loose, Mm hmm. And so you’re going to lose some energy and just getting that, that elastic to tighten up. So if you so the idea here is there’s an optimal length for every muscle. And if you go beyond that optimal length, you’re going to lose some power, you’re going to lose some of your your energy. Yep. And just getting those the that muscle to tighten up before it can actually produce any sort of do any sort of work, it seems like you would lose both the snap and some stability with it being that loose. And that’s one of the one of the beliefs. Yeah. So always remember there is an optimal length to a muscle and way to think about it is do a bicep curl, your max lift is going to be different at different points in the curl. So the start of the curl, you’re actually quite weak and that’s when the muscle is at its longest position. your strongest point is kind of in the mid point Mm hmm. of the bicep curl
Chris Case 14:45
like 9010 that’s
Trevor Connor 14:46
- That’s where you have the optimal length of the muscle.
Trevor Connor 14:50
So there is a you this is one of the the complexities that we’re going to go into, but a muscle can be too short. I’m also going on To be too long, you’re always looking for that optimal length. So monogame How would I do with all that? Well, what would you like that?
There’s a lot there to unpack. But my question is, is that when we focus on the lengthening, are we actually stretching the connective tissue or the muscle? Like there’s so much that we’ll get into? And I don’t like the yes camper, the no camp? Because the answer is it depends. Right? So there’s you covered a lot in there that that affects the the cyclists, we have the elderly short shuffle, we have the mobility tissues, the adaptive to stretch the neurophysiology. Like there’s so many layers to go into. But I think you hit all of the really major ones. But it’s also interesting to hear how you went through the research, Dean Somerset, posted actually about how the big problem with mobility and stretching research. And he’s looked at over 400 to quote, over 400 scientific publications on mobility, tissue adaptations, qualities to stretch neurophysiology, and all sorts of stuff related to how to become more bendy and supple in life. I like bendy. That’s a very technical word. But he points out most and this was my issue with it. And it sounds like Trevor, you know, you went through this as well. Most of that research isn’t done on humans. It’s done on like, hamsters. Yep. So you know, the long term, that was my frustration getting ready for the show, as well as like, Great rats. Fantastic. That does not carry over.
Trevor Connor 16:24
Well, so let’s add even another complexity to that. And by the way, that that study that I read this weekend that I really quite enjoyed that review is, was written by Dr. madeiros, and it’s in the Journal of human movement science, from 2017. But here’s the thing that’s really gonna bake your noodle and I can’t believe I just that expression. It’s from Canada. No, I have no idea where that I’ve never heard that. That is not a Canadian one. But this got me is, so I just talked about that bisco, Alaska, nature of muscles. And certainly, when you’re talking about running, when you’re talking about walking, that’s really important, we are designed to really take advantage of that snap back of the elastic, the energy is stored in the muscle tendon unit in the E centric motion, so when you have that forceful lengthening of the muscle, and then the energy returns is used during the contraction. There’s no e centric movement in cycling. Mm hmm. So you actually so that that effect where you store that energy and then reuse it, it’s called a stretch shortening cycle. We don’t have that in cycling, to take it even further, you look at the cycling movement, because most of your muscles that comprise the quads, cross over two joints, the the nature of the pedal stroke, you never really have your quads in a truly lengthened position, right? They’re always just a little bit shortened. So even when you just read the research on stretching, people tend to generalize and they go, Oh, here’s a study about stretching and running. That’s either for or against, and then they go, Well, this must be the same for cycling. But running, you have a stretch shortening cycle, cycling, you do not you do not have a central motion in cycling, so the rules don’t cross over. Mm hmm. And then as monogamous, you said, then you start taking animal studies where they’re, they’re actually pulling out muscles and putting weights on them, it’s even further from
Chris Case 18:30
there’s so much to unpack here, I’ll try and stick with the main points. But you know, I want to get this is a great opportunity to get the message out there. But most of you as cyclists are just butchering the jumps when you’re what you’re doing is plyometric, where you do a box jump and you’re slamming down your feet onto the box. That’s not actual plyometrics. That’s an explosive power exercise that many people are doing way too many efforts. So like when I prescribe, you know, hands on hips, jobs or jumps, box jumps, people like oh, three sets of four, I can do 40. Like, that’s not the point, if you actually want to get the stretch shortening cycle, there has to be a ground contact and a quick takeoff. But what I want to kind of pull out here is that you’re talking about, you know, things that are involved with how we actually need to train. There is no stretch shortening cycle per se in cycling, but there’s that reciprocal inhibition where you know, the study was done. And of course, we want to see more where the cyclists who stomps down on the pedals the hardest, essentially, for the longest is going to win. So the ability to contract and then to relax on the backside, on the opposite leg is going to allow you to produce more power with less resistance. So even though we’re not getting that side of things, there’s still the the resting length tension relationship of the muscle fibers. We have the anatomical lever arms, yeah, you have, you know, inhibition of some muscles that you have to develop. So as cyclists, we often tend to overuse our hands. And under us, our glutes in overuse our quads. But there’s so many other things that have to be taken into account, you know, such as neuromuscular reflexes, the somatic somatic sensory feedback, like there’s so many things that we have to think about, that when you go through and you’re training, that, yeah, we may not be getting these things in our sport, but we are getting, you know, the muscle to be able to do its three primary jobs better. And in this order. And this is where people forget, when we go into stretching is, the muscle has three jobs. Number one is to protect a joint number two is to stabilize a joint while an adjacent joint moves. And then number three, after those two have already been accomplished is to move a joint. And this is where a cyclist, you know, we think that going out and just stretching a muscle is going to help make it better. And even though what you said is correct. We don’t have a stretch shortening, there’s a lot of these principles and things that are applying to stretching that. And regular sports. So we don’t have, but when you go out and you tell a muscle to stretch and relax, at a certain point, by the way, we’ll get into this a little bit later. You’re breaking rule number one, right? So if you’re a quad dominant cyclist and you’re going through stretching, you’re not getting it to protect the joint, you’re not giving anything else that job or to get anything to fire to do its job. So yeah, you may not be getting the stretch shortening cycle, but you’re creating a more unstable joint essentially. So you know, that’s kind of the game I think we have to play is there’s the science side of it. But then we also have to look at the biomechanics, the stability, the symmetry, the activation patterns, muscularity, then we can talk about the mobility and flexibility and end of range. And I think that’s where the conversation should really start is more from, you know, what do we want to get out of our stretching versus, you know, is stretching actually good for us.
Chris Case 21:47
So that was a really good way to lead into our next little discussion here, which is about whether stretching solves muscle problems prevents injury? What do you think, again, it
depends, and, and right now, it kind of depends on where the attitudes towards stretching, and what you’re actually looking at doing are leaning. Now one of the things that we need to be careful with in terms of reading the research literature, and I’ve caught myself, I probably do this at least once a month, where I just kind of go, I skip ahead to what the results were. And I go back to how they did it. And I don’t really pay attention to this statistical breakdown, there’s a really good book called How to lie with statistics, which was published in the 70s. And also, who is reviewing, we’re not reviewing that that article, because these are all considerations that when people like to cite research, and I made this mistake, you know, four or 510 times early on in my career, when I was so focused on the research, where I just took the results for what they were not looking at, you know, does this actually make sense? And who were the subjects? So when we take that into consideration, I think we need to kind of take the research and put it aside and say, Okay, well, let’s think about who are the riders that I know that are actually feeling better from stretching, and who are those that are feeling worse from stretching. So if we look at it from that standpoint, if you’re coming from a standpoint of you’re very strong through a very small range of motion, and you’re starting to as you know, Trevor mentioned earlier, you’re starting to shuffle a little, like you’re a little older, and you’re only in your 40s or 50s. Well, stretching within reason not to extreme ranges of motion is probably good for you, that’s probably going to help, then in that case, it can be a defense mechanism. And it can also be a performance enhancer. Whereas if you’re the type of person who’s you know, again, stealing Dean’s terms is bendy. And you’re, you know, oh, my stem slammed. And now I have what was it at the Tour Down Under the guy had 150 stem on a 6060 centimeter bike, I think it was,
Chris Case 23:52
yeah, like so Pro.
But you look at his body type. Like I haven’t assessed him. But at first I clicked on I was like, What 150? You know, this is totally clickbait. I’m like, wow, this guy actually looks like he needs it. Now, that’s not to say that pros don’t come out with, you know, from rasa tabular impingement or lower back issues because of instability. But you look at him, right? And you’re like, Yeah, that looks about right, it doesn’t look super aggressive. So for someone like him, maybe stretching would cause that injury because he’s too bendy. So we have to kind of figure out you know, what is the appropriate balance that we want to have and and the muscle stiffness is kind of a key quality that will allow us to understand what we can go through. And a lot of this comes down to motor control, joint stability, and kinesthetic awareness. And this is something I’m really familiar with right now because I’ve I’ve personally been going through first broken fibula with some screws, and now a meniscal surgery within four months of one another. So that kinesthetic awareness, you know, is is really out the joint is stable. There’s nothing wrong with the joint but I don’t have missing some of that tissue. So I’m missing that proprioceptive. And that’s something a lot of people don’t talk about with connective tissue, is it’s not just there to help cushion or to move forces, or to keep you stable. It’s also proprioceptive. If you’re going through and you know, you’re you’re changing that sensory feedback from the muscle spindles or the Golgi, tendon organ, whatever you want to say that the technical thing that’s actually registering it, if you keep going and telling it, hey, this might be your normal range of motion at the end, but we want you to go more, the brain is now losing that that ability to produce proper muscle stiffness to protect that joint, indoor to create performance. So that means that like a growing number of people in the United States, who are getting super aggressive with yoga, they are having a very high incidence of hip surgeries. And I forget where I read it, it was somebody online, I’ll see if I can find it. But somebody did a really long breakdown of why yoga at an extreme of what it is today is is not necessarily healthy. But the incidence of who was it Oh, there was another professor, I went and listen to the incidents in Eastern Europeans and Americans for hip surgery from doing yoga for long periods of time is very high. However, when you go to the the Indian population, or Far East, it’s much lower. And a lot of it has to do with what the bodies are built for the genetics as they go through, but also how they’re practicing it, if you go into an actual yoga house. You know, in India, it’s going to be a very different unless it’s a westernized, very hyped up, it’s going to be very different. It’s more about mindfulness, relaxing your whole body, as opposed to Oh, yeah, you got to go all the way back in a boat pose. And you have to, you know, the focus is very different. So if you’re looking for to solve problems, and help you relax, don’t go extreme. If you wanted to prevent injury, look at are you getting the normal range of motion, have you lost that range of motion, and have you lost the ability to maintain that muscle stiffness, that’s going to help you perform on the bike and be able to maintain stability and good posture off the bike.
Trevor Connor 27:06
So the the really simplified way, I like to think of this or I explained it to my athletes is going back to that elastic analogy. You don’t want the two extremes. So the one extreme is that old elastic, you find at the back of the drawer, that’s lost a lot of its viscoelastic properties, you take that elastic, you try to stretch it, you’re going to damage it
Chris Case 27:24
might even snap, it might snap. And I’ve been
Trevor Connor 27:27
in the gym, when I’ve seen a muscle snap, it’s a really unpleasant sight to share. On the flip side, though, is if you over stretch, as you were saying, if you just focus on stretching, you’re not doing strengthen, you’re really trying to really lengthen those muscles. Think about that really long, floppy, elastic. And remember, muscles have multiple purpose and not just movement, not just to do work, but they also protect your joints. And if you got a bunch of these, so I’m going to forget the unscientific word is Ben Dave, I can use floppy floppy. If you got a bunch of floppy muscles around your joints, gross, they can’t protect that joint and then the joint becomes floppy. And I’m somebody I have a back problem, I can tell you, the quickest way to put my back out is to do a ton of stretching on my back muscles because those muscles are serving a role, keeping my line and my spine and align and keeping it protected. And if I overstretch them, they can’t do that job anymore. And then my back is just
Chris Case 28:24
done. It sounds like genetics does play a role here because some people are, quote, naturally bendy and other people are not so bendy. So how do you determine what sort of Camp you fall into, besides just trying to touch your toes and go from there?
There’s a bunch of different ways. I mean, I just want to touch on something with what Trevor said like that neuromuscular engagement and the ability of the muscles to maintain stiffness, like proximal stiffness creates distal motion, right? So they go hand in hand. And and you know, as you pointed out, they their shock absorbers, right? So, when we look at, you know where to find the optimal for you and which one to go through. This is really part of the assessment that I go through with every athlete, I shake their hand. So have somebody give you a handshake, and and you don’t want to tell them that you’re testing. Just give them a handshake and then say to them, can you tell me about my handshake? Was it a dead fish? Was it you know, crushing? Believe it or not, your handshake will give you a very big hat tip as to what type of neural tension you naturally have. If it’s very soft, unless you’re purposefully doing that, you know, if you’re the dumb meeting, James Bond, you know, just put the hand out like the queen. Well, of course, that’s an exception, but a normal handshake, a business handshake, and ask them you know, how does that rate is that the rock shaking your hand or not? So that would be the first thing is just kind of getting a feel for what other people think the other is, you know, are you comfortable just kind of sitting in contorted positions, and people look at you like you’re comfortable on your neck. Mm hmm. Do you want a pillow Good, or is it that you’re very stiff? Literally, you know, it’s funny, because it’s true. It’s one of those things, you know, my sister can sit in all these different positions, I’m like, Are you comfortable, she’s like, Yeah, really comfortable. Like really sure you want a pillow or something like prop you up. Whereas other writers, and we all know them, when we go to the cafe, and we sit down for espresso, they’re very, very alert, you know, they’re almost like there’s a pole there, they and others are just very rounded for they slouch forward in their chair, and they kind of look like they’re still riding their bike from the side, you know, if they were to put their legs up on the table and put some cranks there and look the same. So that would be the first one. But the second one is also Dean, believe it or not, has another he’s great resource. I’ll send you guys over the link. He has a great article that talks about hips and quote unquote, flexibility. So Dean as a human being, when he tries to touch his toes sitting or otherwise, can’t do it. If he goes for a full split with the feet out to the side, he can do it. Or if he tries to go one foot forward, one foot back. So a lot of it also comes down to what’s your actual anatomical structure look like, we have to be very careful about how we define flexibility. Now, I saved the best one for last we’re gonna pick on Trevor today. So Trevor, we’re going to have you take your hand, put your arm straight ahead at shoulder height with your palm facing up. So you’re kind of doing a stop in the name of love. And what I want you to try and do couldn’t help it, I want you to try and take your index finger and bend it back towards your forearm. And Chris, I want you to judge how far back he gets, as opposed to 90 degrees. So arm is straight at shoulder height, palms facing up, and then just try and take that finger back towards the floor.
Trevor Connor 31:45
just point out that I’m trying to bend back a very broken finger.
Chris Case 31:48
Wait, wait, his palms should be used the other words the ceiling.
Trevor Connor 31:52
Okay. Okay, so now
Chris Case 31:54
I bend his index finger towards his face or backwards towards his
gut towards his face without breaking it off or snapping it. Okay,
Trevor Connor 32:02
yeah, I can tell you I am on the not flexible side, unless I do lots of stretching. My nephew. Egan banned all his fingers backwards, he can bend his elbow backward sees he if you asked him to take his finger and touches any part of his hand, he could do it. And I’ve actually I did a little bit of coaching with him and basically said, I don’t ever want you stretching, you are flexible. And now we actually need to be doing a lot of strengthening work with you, or you’re gonna start having problems. So you don’t have any injuries. But I am the opposite. I know I’m stiff. And I love that you brought up the D Are you comfortable in the chair? Because I know when I’m neglecting my stretching, I just can’t sit comfortably in a seat.
And that’s those are the two easy ones like yeah, if we look at Chris and Jan also, like we’ll see different ranges. But that’s I forget what the name of the technical name of the test is. But that’s one of the easy ones this Can you pull your index finger all the way back to your forearm, but that gives us a general idea like you we have to have certain muscle stiffness. So, you know, Trevor, with with the back stuff, and you saying that you’re generally not that stretchy. So the first thing I look at is okay, well, you know, let’s look at your running position and SEE HOW stretchy you’re trying to make your back. You know, for seeing that you’re not really well supported on the saddle, you’re tilting side to side or Rotating Side aside like we could throw the Leo mo on you and kind of see what’s actually going now, which is really cool, because you can actually see that but then we will look at do you actually need stretching? So my guess is you’re probably stretching your quadriceps, your hip flexors and your lats. You’re not actually stretching your lower back. Is that a true guest for my
Trevor Connor 33:33
yes, no, I completely avoid my lower back because like I said, if I start stretching lower back muscles, my back goes out, but exactly what you said. So I tried to build some mobility into my hips. I have very inflexible hips. I am horrible on a dance floor.
Chris Case 33:49
I am not surprised by that at all. Actually, I mean, you’re dressed the part right now. You’re shocked. You’re shocked have gray hair coming out of your chest. But other than that, I can’t imagine you on the dance floor. Trevor?
Trevor Connor 34:02
Yeah, no, it’s not a not a pretty sight. Whenever somebody asked me to dance, I’m just like, Look, that’s gonna hurt you more than it’s gonna hurt me. boy, boy,
I don’t always stretch my back. But when I do, it’s on Saturday night.
Chris Case 34:16
Fever. But yes,
Trevor Connor 34:17
I do a lot of hip work. And I still remember this was like 2006. At the center. They had all of us go to a yoga session was actually the first yoga session of my life Performance Center over at the
Victoria and Victoria.
Trevor Connor 34:31
We were doing long poses, long holds. And so they wanted us to do a half lotus. And I remember the instructor coming over me and going, why aren’t you putting your foot on top of your knee? You’re gonna get him in that little.
Chris Case 34:44
Trevor Connor 34:45
I’m like, I can’t. I couldn’t. I didn’t have the flexibility to do.
Chris Case 34:51
Yeah, yeah. I’m pretty inflexible, too. I’m right there with you, Trevor. I’m in my hips are way more act well. Let’s not get into what my hips are doing but Pretty, pretty stiff too.
Trevor Connor 35:07
We want to talk to a pro about this topic to see how someone who is competitive at a high level integrates stretching into their training routine if they do at all. So we sat down and talked to Red Bull athlete and hosted the adventure stash podcast pazin mckeldin, for his thoughts on this topic.
Chris Case 35:26
So pacing as a mountain biker and a gravel racer, do you use stretching in your daily routine? Do you use it as a recovery tool? Do you use it for your warmup,
Payson McElveen 35:39
I do stretch, but it’s more as I, as I feel I need it. I don’t have a stretching regimen per se. I’ve heard it’s, it seems like one of those topics where you’ve got folks all over the map, folks theoretically, in the know, all over the map. Based on what I’ve heard, the kind of stretching I do is, I guess what you’d call more dynamic stretching, part of my gym, warm up routine involves some stretching, but it’s almost more mobility type stuff, creating the range of motion, or increasing the range of motion that you actually are able to control. And by that, I mean, you know, if you just pull up your your ankle to your butt to to stretch your quad, that’s not really a movement that you’re under control with, per se. So one thing we’ve kind of been working on is the mobility component. So how far can you get that foot back to your butt without using your hands help, for example, that said, Sometimes I will do much more traditional stretching just when it feels right, you know, when muscles are really sore for me. And I think for a lot of people stretching just feels really good. And it’s not like some crazy half hour thing where I meticulously go through every muscle group and have a checklist to make sure I get everything. It’s more just, this feels good, I need to kind of stretch here, that sort of thing. And I’ve heard mixed things about whether stretching is quote unquote, good or not, I would never stretch aggressively, like on the start line of a race. That said, one of the veterans that I race against Carl Decker is pretty famous for doing stretching right on the start line. And we kind of giggle at him for that now and then. But that’s what he likes to do. Yeah, it’s more of a case by case basis. And I actually had a professor in college who is very, very against stretching. But to me, it just kind of feels really good sometimes. And I think at the end of the day, there’s probably something to that. What about yoga? Did you incorporate that into your life in
Chris Case 37:47
any way or as a recovery tool, or even a way to relax the mind,
Payson McElveen 37:52
I’m not a regular Yogi, I have done yoga in the past. And I will do it here and there. Again, it’s more something that just feels good. This kind of reminds me of the conversation I often have about CrossFit where people see that I go to a CrossFit gym, and they see that a lot of the moves, I do look a lot like CrossFit. And they ask if I do CrossFit. And I said well, kind of like a lot of the strength moves we work with are very much look like CrossFit. And some of them are even, you know, in the CrossFit Games, but we don’t have the time component at all. Like I’m not rushing through it, really focusing on the quality, over quantity of reps, all that sort of thing. And so, similarly, with with stretching and yoga, it’s just sort of like, some of the moves probably that I do probably look like yoga, but it’s not
Chris Case 38:44
because Right, right.
Payson McElveen 38:46
Yeah, they just feel right. So you know, if I, if I say do a really push myself towards the end of a strength workout in a plank position, and just see how long I can hold a plank position and really, you know, climb into the box and bite down and do a max out on a plank, which is something we do often at the end of the gym workout. What feels really good right after that is a downward dog move. Does that mean I do yoga? Right?
Trevor Connor 39:15
Okay, back to monogame.
Cycling, a lot of us are picking up bad habits because we’re mostly adults, we’re going into a flex position that we spend all of our time sitting in at home. And then we’re going and doing on the bike is flexibility itself can help you and this is where that hamstring stretch that everybody loves doing. We’ve known since the 90s. If I’m not mistaken, either McGill published the first one or he he talked about in his book, low back disorders. It’s early on in the book, whether or not he did the study, it said back in the late 80s, early 90s, that alleviating quote unquote, that neural tension is not resolving back pain, it actually comes back a little bit worse. So what you actually need to do a deep dive to figure out what’s actually causing that back pain, but for most signs Just like most runners, oh, my back hurts, I’m gonna stretch my hamstrings. Well, that’s not necessarily what you need, let’s go back to the three jobs that the muscle have and look at it in order. Number one is to protect a joint Well, for muscles tight, that’s a really big flag from the body saying, hey, something’s out of balance here, this isn’t working well, man, I’m really not feeling so great. Or that adjacent joint is not stable. And usually, as a cyclist, we kind of know that that’s where we kind of know, you know what my back doesn’t feel that great. You know, when you start putting out the power doesn’t feel good standing. So I’m just gonna sit, but then you’re getting off the bike and stretching Well, we’ve got to find where and what’s going on, and then determine is stretching the best thing. And here’s the thing I’ve worked with, I don’t know how many athletes, I’ve had a number of back pain, I kinda want to stay away from that, because that’s a very special, let’s go more with knee pain, knee pain and shoulder pain. So the number of athletes I’ve worked with, specifically, specifically, cyclists, basketball players, and triathletes, they’ve had significant increases in their stability, their muscle activation symmetry, meaning the right and left side. So a lot of cyclists can only feed on one side, not the other, getting better movement patterns, better strength, they’re getting more muscle balance, better motor control, better mobility, and flexibility. And all of this has come through doing next to no stretching. This is done through muscle activation, putting them into positions, I’m a big fan of using essentrics strength. So a 3131 tempo is very common for athletes who come to me, and this is one of the things I cover in the book as well actually. And the tempo, the lifting tempo is one of the key ingredients when you’re building a training plan. And a lot of athletes are so confused when I put this in there. Like what’s 5020? Well, let’s stick with 31313131. It stands for the amount of time for the E centric or if we’re doing a squat for lowering. The second number is a pause at the bottom, your bottom end of range of motion. The third number is how long it takes you to come up out of the squat or the concentric. And then the last number is the time to reset a rest at the top. So 3131 if we’re doing a goblet squat or a front squat, that means that we’re descending over three seconds. So it doesn’t mean starting slow and then dropping to the bottom, you want to try and you know, gauge yourself as you go down, stopping at your bottom of the range of motion, keeping all the muscles engaged, and then engaging to come back up over three seconds. And then you have a second reset these types of contractions using this tempo in this way. And by the way, if you want to develop true explosive power, after you’ve learned how to master a position, like a hang power clean, when you’ve learned how to master the hinge, you’re going to come down with a bar, you’re going to use about 20 to 30% of your estimated one rep max, you’re going to hang down there for two to four seconds, some coaches will say five to six,
boom, you’re going to explode up. Why do we stop? Because we don’t want that elasticity we want a full neuromuscular firing. So when we’re going through these 313 ones, by taking our time to ease centrically load the body, we’re doing three things. We’re teaching proximal stiffness for distal motion, we’re teaching you how to ignite the abdominal hoop. And when people read the book, they’ll see abdominal hoop instead of ABS, because it’s all 360 and includes a number of muscles. But we’re teaching you to create stiffness between the rib cage and pelvis while you’re getting movement from the hips, the knees, the ankles, you’re learning how to control the bottom of the move movement. Before you create motion, you’re engaging those muscles. But subconsciously, you’re also tapping into the proprioceptive localities have the different joints. So remember, part of my meniscus is missing now, or is clipped out. Somebody has it somewhere on as a trophy. Look at it. This is going to affect how you understand your proprioception. When you go through this E centric motion, you’re actually getting a stretch reflex stronger. So to speak in through the muscle. That’s not the technical jargon, but you’re getting a stronger stretch. You’re tapping in and teaching the body Hey, if we go really slow, this is where things are going. Here’s how to create that proximal stiffness, and then you’re teaching it how to move. Alright, let’s
Chris Case 44:28
let’s jump over to our next belief here and debate it does stretching aid performance, yes or no.
So it can again, you know the answer to all these really is it depends, but let’s make it black and white. Let’s play that game. So if we’re talking about someone who has been riding for four to six years, they haven’t really done any strength training. They’re just on their bike. Maybe they’ve done a good job in bike fitting, but they’re starting to log a lot more miles. They’re also you know, sitting a little bit more at work, which tends to go hand in hand now We’re getting into the point where there’s a difference in muscle resting length and joint position. In that case, some stretching. And I usually am a bigger proponent of dynamic movement than passive stretching can be useful. But we need to be very mindful when we’re using it. Right. So like there was a study done in the early 90s. And I, this was my own experience as well. And this is why I used to come in for basketball practices, static stretch for about 15 minutes, because that’s what my, the person who was teaching me had taught me. But I realized, after running late for practice, for a week, that I was actually performing better and more springy, another technical term, when I skipped those, and I was like, You know what, I’m not going to do the static stretching. Well, lo and behold, there was a study done in the early to mid 90s, that showed that there’s a decrease in power output after doing static stretching for about 15 to 30 minutes, and we’re talking between 10 and 15%. So if you’re talking about, you know, doing the stretches like runners like to do before they go off for the starting gun, where they’re stretching their hamstrings, that’s probably a pretty bad idea. If you’re talking about an activation versus a stretch, or you’re stretching and activating the muscles, so let’s take the chest as an example, if we’re doing a foam roller, why stretch, and we’re, you know, tying the breathing into that keeping good read position, and we’re getting those muscles to open. And then we’re getting up and doing like bent over thoracic rotation, or a band pull apart from the right places, that’ll be fantastic. Because not only are you opening one muscle, and this is really the key to getting it to eight in performance is if you’re gonna stretch or relax one muscle that’s tight and short, you need to activate something else that needs to fire to help balance that out. And that’s kind of the key that we’re looking for is that balance as we go through. But if you’re just going to go through and just stretch, I’m firmly against that. If you know, if you tell me Hey, I only have 20 minutes, and I want to do something to help me work out. I like stretching, I’ll tell you Okay, we’ll do a little bit of stretching. But let’s do some activation exercises after. But you know, Chris, what, what your experience has been, as far as eating performance? Have you tried this for two weeks at a time and seen any results or change I
Chris Case 47:10
probably never, in high school running, we used to do group stretching, and it was based on I would say nothing more than dogmatic belief that it was helpful. And that’s probably a lot of people’s experience back then I wouldn’t say I ever did a even assessment of whether it worked or not, or had the experience like you did, where I would skip it for a week. Or by happenstance, it didn’t happen for a week to see to compare those two, with or without stretching. Now, I don’t do any sort of passive stretching at all. And that’s just me. And I’m, like I said earlier, probably relatively on the tight side, I guess. But I feel like I’m also not prone to any particular injuries or imbalances, either. And when you know, when you start talking about, can you get comfortable and weird, contorted positions on a couch? Yeah, sure. I can. Actually, am I? So I don’t know if I’m the stretch? Yes. But I’m probably I’m gonna say I’m, I’m kind of where I need to be. That’s a really that’s a really layman’s assessment, and a lazy person’s assessment of where I should be.
No, but that’s the thing that that’s that’s kind of the point of asking just off the cuff is like, this is how you kind of look at it is how am I feeling? How am I moving? Now? Here’s the next question. Can you hinge squat, press pole and row all in good motions? Or do you feel like you’re kind of out of alignment?
Chris Case 48:51
Let’s say I could do that all fairly well. Even though I don’t do it. Often. I would say that that would seem relatively easy to have proper technique and do that efficiently.
Trevor Connor 49:03
Most of the things I’m gonna bring in here is this is where you start getting some some sports specific questions. Mm hmm. My general assessment is going back to that there is an optimal length. So if you are like me and highly inflexible, naturally, getting on the bike trying to get into an aero position, I’m going to be outside of mine at my natural or the optimal length and I’m going to lose some power. So there is a value in stretching particularly, you will see time trials do a lot of cycling because they want to get really arrow which means they are lengthening the glutes, they’re lengthening the hamstrings and like the in the calves. And for most people that that really good arrow position on a time trial by get some outside of their optimal length. So time trials will will stretch a lot of that back chain, which actually will potentially put them outside of optimal length on a road bike, which is why it’s really hard to be the best time trials in the world and best road cyclists in the world. It’s one of the reasons. But going back to the changes that you see from stretching, you think about running, there is that abisco Alaska properties. So there is an argument to say, improving the visceral elasticity of muscles is going to help running, potentially prevent injury from all that that impact. I didn’t see a ton of research one way or the other, the one thing I did see is certainly stretching before you do a running event is inefficient, because that’s getting outside of the optimal length. And then you have that, as we said, it’s kind of you got the non scientific term, you have that floppy or muscle that you’re going to waste energy on getting it to tighten. So pretty universal all do the research, I saw him running said no, don’t don’t stretch before running event. Cycling again is interesting because that bisco Alaska element doesn’t really exist. So in cycling, there might be an argument for saying increasing the number of sarcomeres has a benefit as long as you don’t get outside of your optimal length. Because there is no short stretch shortening cycle, there is no use of that elastic property to generate power, it is all a concentric contraction. And that review showed that for the most part, there seems to be benefits to improving strength of concentric contractions from chronic stretching, stretching, stretching over over weeks to months. Another thing that kind of shocked me, I did find a study from 2006, that looked at stretching as a warm up before doing maximal cycling efforts was really, really short 510 32nd one minute efforts and across the board doing a stretch. So what they would the the athletes would do is the control group would do a five minute warm up, then rest for a bit, then do these efforts, the study group would do a five minute warm up, then do a stretch, then a short break and do the effort. Pretty universally, you saw improvements in the stretch group, which goes against a lot of what they were saying. But again, that issue that you have in running where you you make a floppier muscle and you lose some of that that snapback isn’t a factor in cycling. So the question here is why are they seeing improvements in really, really high level power. And I’m just, I was thinking about this all last night, I couldn’t find a single thing on it. So I’m just brainstorming here. But one of the possibilities I thought about is going back to those Gogi tendons and propria receptors, because on a bike, and they did point out in the study that really focus on quads, hip flexors, quads are always in a shortened state Mm hmm. Which means that Golgi tendon might always be a little bit activated. and encouraging a little bit of a contraction at all at all times, which will actually at certain points in the pedal stroke, fight your pedal stroke. You think of the extreme of this, we did that whole episode on on cramping. cramping is just a complete imbalance between goget dentists and brokers after the cause your whole muscle to cramp down. And we do know that it’s impossible to cramp in a lengthened state. So the only thing that I could think that was happening here is it was altering the signaling the neural signaling between the Golgi tendons and the propria receptors, allowing the Gogi tendons to relax a little more even in that that shortened state, you are getting less activity from the Golgi tendons and so you weren’t getting that co contraction and you’re able to use more of the muscle completely going into the pedal stroke. Now I did find one other study that looked at similar sort of warm up, but then doing longer, more threshold type efforts. And there you saw drop in efficiency.
I was going to say I think we should flip the coin and say okay, so we know that we can get into these lengthen positions and increase your ability to move. Right? That’s that’s what you’re saying is that we’re going to decrease the risk of cramping we can increase the efficiency essentially. So
Trevor Connor 54:12
no, they’re the the the other study showed no loss of efficiency. So if you’re a time trial, this might not be the best idea this, you really the conclusion of this study was if your track writer doing really short,
Chris Case 54:23
that’s what I was thinking that
Trevor Connor 54:24
it might actually be a benefit, which again really shocked me because I would never tell a track writer to stretch beforehand. But the idea here is maybe it’s just altering that that neural control of the muscles and getting the Gogi tends to relax so that you are actually contract your muscles relaxing more at the right time and not fighting your your metal stroke. Right. One of the slight bits of evidence of that is not only were they able to generate more power, they were able to hit peak power in these efforts
faster. That makes sense though, because the reciprocal inhibition is turned down. I mean, I’d be curious to see What if we were to do and of course, human studies, the IRB, all the other stuff, it makes it difficult. But what would happen? If we were to have them go through this stretching, and then have them in like immediately after go through activation for core stiffness of getting that abdominal bracing? And gluteals? Like, I’m curious that that’s where I go. So not necessarily what are we looking at with the stretching, but let’s get some activation for the opposite side. And let’s see what goes on, as well as getting the better stability. I
Trevor Connor 55:36
think you’re hitting on the right thing, which is there’s very little research, there’s so many giant holes in these questions that we should do this, we should do that we should see the effects of this and see the effects of that fully agree with you, and it hasn’t been done. So it’s, frankly, right now in a bit of a confusing state. But I agree with what you said earlier, which is I personally would never tell one of my athletes to stretch before a race.
Chris Case 56:03
We’re excited to be launching off course with grant hoggy today, here’s a little sneak peek into his show.
Feel like this has been the most fun nationals we’ve had in a couple of years,
the crowds and the racing
is just the spectators were the most unreal thing I’ve ever experienced that Pacific Northwest knows how to have a good time
is the one thing that that kind of overarching Lee, that you remember about racing cross in Europe. Over there, it’s so insanely huge and popular. Also, they have really weird courses where you just walk down to this bar, and you go to the back room, pay five euros, get a number that’s been used before and has holes in it, you race in it and you take the number back, you get
like three euros back.
Chris Case 56:46
So I floated above on top of this crust at the front of the sled went into the trench, my forehead went right into the shelf of ice and I did a flip over my head. And I immediately took my gloves and put them on my forehead and I thought oh my god, I don’t want to ever let go of my head because my brains just gonna blow out.
Everybody it’s grant Khalid he posted the brand new Fast Talk Labs podcast off course, the podcast about what happens when the Racing’s over and life begins. Get in touch you can email me at off course at Fast Talk Labs calm that’s off course at Fast Talk Labs.com. or follow me on Twitter and Instagram. On Twitter. It’s at grant Holic ke. And on Instagram, it’s at G Holic. Remember to subscribe to off course, wherever you get your podcasts and rate and review the show on iTunes.
Chris Case 57:51
What are some other alternatives to stretching that you prefer Menaka whether it’s strength training, foam rolling, things like that,
it depends on the athlete in front of me and who they are. And they really come down to kind of a group one is going to be more passive. So again, I’m not a big fan of passive stretching at all. I mean, if you were to come in and look at my logs from the athletes last decade, you’d probably see again, you know, I think the last five years has been two or three. Again, very extreme cases were talking about post surgery didn’t take care of it properly wasn’t treated, right. Those are extreme cases where they came in. And clearly they needed to get back to normal resting length. But it also involves sauce, strength training. So this is kind of why and one of the many reasons that drove me to start reading the vortex method in the first part. And that is, we can address a lot of these imbalances through normal regular small bits and pieces of care throughout the training year throughout the training week throughout the training day. So the first one is breathing. You know, most of us think we’re breathing, I’m alive, I’m not dead, I must be doing it right. But actually learning how to get air into different places. And there’s a great place called the postural restoration Institute. I think they’re based out of North East if I’m not mistaken, but they do a great job of helping us or teach about different postures, and how different postures and breathing specifically into different areas can help you open up tight muscles. And it’s amazing how well it works. So tight hip flexors, we can use breathing to help with that it’s not a magic and not a cure all. But that’s number one. So that’s where every single session is going to begin with breathing. But even before that, depending on the athlete and their needs, I’ll have them start or end the session with between four and six minutes of foam rolling. Now that’s not a lot of time. with foam rolling, there’s three different approaches. One is you’re kind of a dead fish, you find a tight spot, you just sit on it for 30 seconds a minute you don’t move. The second is where you find the tight spot and you’re flexing the muscle. So you’re activating the opposite side muscle and you’re flexing and extending. And the other option is you do that small kind of roll back and forth kind of meeting it out. Now each one of those is going to have a different effect. On the muscle, but it’s going to depend on the athlete and what they feel is best for them. But there are three different approaches for foam rolling and using the lacrosse ball. And it’s going to depend on what you feel you need or what your body responds to, that’s number one, then we get into the breathing, which almost all athletes when we’re done with the breathing, most of them want to start their their workout, they’re like, I feel great I want to go, it allows them that that two minutes, three minutes, you know, two to four breaths, long breaths in through the nose over four to eight seconds, hold for a count of three, deep breath out through the mouth, or out through the nose, depending on what we’re aiming for in that session. And then a pause with that full breath out that that part where you kind of feel like you’re going to need to cough. This actually helps us reset a lot of the upper body, upper torso, muscles and can also help us tap into tight hip flexors tight lower back one side or the other. So that’s the first part of every session. That’s how I would start with most people. And that’s why that became the beginning part of this strength training sessions. But then we go into the dynamic warmup where we’re actually putting you through ranges of motion that you have teaching you muscle coordination, raising your core temperature, as well as getting you movements you don’t get in in biking, like Carioca, or what I call ballerinas where you kind of do sideways jumping jacks. And the reason these worked for tight muscles is with a lot of cyclists and triathletes, because we’re so linear, the muscles that move us laterally, just don’t get fired as much. So just sometimes simply putting someone through an extra round or two of, you know, 30 feet each way of ballerinas, like, Oh, my groin feels really good. So those would be the first three that I’d go to. And then after that, I’d go through, you know, the 3131 tempo or maybe a 32nd, isometric, bottom of the squat, goblet squat hold, or putting them into positions and having them just co contract the muscles like, okay, I want you to go into a single leg deadlift. And I want you to hold about a third of the way down, fire the glutes, feel the ground with the bottom of your foot, breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth, hold for 15 seconds, and then come back up from the glute while keeping your core nice and straight. So these are all the tools that I kind of use. One of the things you’ll notice is I didn’t talk about stretching or yoga, going through any of the actual strength training sessions. Now some people would say, Okay, I figure you’re going to use it at the end. Well, actually, I like to use that kind of for a mindspace kind of day where we’re using it for complete recovery. So I firmly believe that once a year or once a week rather, as well as once a year he needs a break. So every week, you should have one day off completely. I think that’s an appropriate and great time to do a little bit of yoga, but not the kind where they’re trying to make you more bendy, the kind that they’re very focused on the soul side of things. So if you’re the type of athlete who really likes to go and just yeah, I’m going to be the best at yoga and be super bendy like look like Gumby. Well, probably not a good thing. But we can use yoga once a week, especially mid season, when you’re logging a lot of time, then we’ll do what I like to call a movement session. And for a movement session, we’re talking about 15 to 20 minutes of like a dynamic, warm up style of a movement where you’re just going through, and then we’ll add some yoga flow at the end. But the key for the yoga to help you be able to progress. We’re not going for extremes, we’re getting you to be able to hold these positions and postures. Usually it’s with a staggered stance, which is very natural, or the feet are parallel to one another, both pointing straight ahead of but usually it’s just a natural kind of stance for you where you’re going through like a founders pose. I’m a big fan of the foundation by Eric Goodman. If you guys haven’t had him on yet, he’d be a great cast, I think. But that’s kind of an appropriate place where we’re not going for these extremes. It’s just we’re trying to get you back into a normal range of motion that you’ve already had. And I think, you know, combine these and then we go into the essentrics or isometrics, or the specific tempos. I think it’s a fantastic way to really help people, you know, gain that quote unquote, mobility or flexibility without having to spend these times in extreme positions that, frankly, aren’t that healthy, you’re really you know, screwing with the body’s natural, what it’s built for. And you’re like, oh, you’re an airplane, we’re gonna put you in the water and see what happens. Like, yeah, it’ll flow for a little bit. Like, you know, the plane that landed in the Hudson, it flooded for a little bit, but not so long.
Chris Case 1:04:14
So I know you’re a big proponent of strength training as an alternative here. So Menaka if you wouldn’t mind, why don’t you talk a little bit about that.
We have to kind of keep in mind that you know, you go to a surgeon a surgeon wants to cut a physical therapist who wants to therapy’s a strength coach wants to strength train, I kind of like to look at it from strength training as a fantastic tool for each one of these professionals in the right amount. So to the listeners, I’m not a proponent of only doing strength training, or only doing breathing or only doing dynamic warm up. every writer, every person as you go through, as we heard with with Trevor with Trevor’s nephew, every person is going to be different, and it’s going to change as they go through their life cycles. If you have an athlete who’s getting ready to get married, and they don’t carry their stress very well, they’re probably going to lose some of their flexibility. And you can do all the stretching, you want to try and get them there. But they’re just naturally amped up. They’re on that they’re in that fight or flight stage. Whereas somebody who’s very young man, whatever, it’s cool. Like, did you smoke something? No, man, it’s all good. Just had a great ride, you know, like, that’s, that’s going to be someone who’s probably not going to need a ton of flexibility. So the strength training as an alternative, it’s more of, we need range of motion through what our natural range of motion is. So I can’t get on a time trial bike without having a horrible backache and my hips, feeling like someone sticking flame knives, or, you know, swords that are being worked out by an iron worker in them. So I’m not a time traveler, if that’s you take a step back and just kind of, am I gonna make a lot of money out of this? Or am I getting that much enjoyment out of putting myself through that pain? And I’m not talking about the long thresholds? You know, that’s, we need that. But we’re it’s a physical pain and a joint, we need to think about, is this actually helping me? If that is the case, and you feel Yes, it is helping you? Okay, great, let’s give you strength through that range of motion. And let’s bring it back to that time triallist. Time Charles comes in, we’ll put them through the you know, we’ll call it the vortex method, we have the foam rolling, we’ll do some of the breathing and the breathing, we’ll do more specific to time trial position stuff as we get closer to the season, up until they get into about their peak. And then we’re going to do the opposite. Because we need to keep that balance. So they’re already getting so much time on the time trial bike, when we do our breath work, we’re not going to mimic that we’re going to go the opposite way. Because we need to keep that balance. And that’s where that strength training will come in. So if you’re someone who finds that the stretching is really helping you now or in February, the middle of February, you’re just getting ready to log more miles. And you’ve done a good job with strength training. And you found that doing yoga twice a week is helping you fantastic. Let’s keep that. However, let’s also add some strength training as an alternative to a third day of yoga. So instead, let’s add some at home stuff. So he centric isometric, where you’re lowering the 3131 tempo is a fantastic way to go. And also getting strength through length. And what this is, I mentioned the foundation flow before Eric Goodman and Peter Park. It’s a fantastic flow, because it’s helping you get strength through length and my kind of secret for the athletes that I do recommend go to yoga. Usually they’re individuals, I’m thinking of a very specific instructor, or a very specific school that I know or yoga house that I know that they’re teaching a specific way. And that the athlete also has the right mentality. The reason it’s so specific, and I recommend them to go there is because they’re doing more what’s called now beginner yoga classes. Trevor, have you ever done a beginner yoga class? Have you ever tried that?
Trevor Connor 1:07:50
I have yet to find a beginner yoga class, it was beginner enough for me.
So what did you notice in that beginner class? Like, what were they having? You do? Unlike the normal class,
Trevor Connor 1:07:58
I was mostly noticing the instructor shaking their heads at me. To be honest with you, I was always I have this this sounds like a joke. But this is this is real. Because I have a back problem. I have a very stiff back and you know, yoga, downward dog, you should see me do a downward dog. It is the worst example you have ever seen. And the instructors always see me they Beeline to me, they try to help me then they get frustrated. And then they ignore me the rest of the class
Chris Case 1:08:27
with it. So it’s not a downward facing dog. What is it? It’s like a down down? I
Trevor Connor 1:08:32
don’t know. But it’s it’s a bacon noodle. Pretty much it’ll
Chris Case 1:08:36
downward baked noodle.
Trevor Connor 1:08:39
But yeah, in terms of what I noticed for other people in the beginner class, I’m not sure I mean, I’ve noticed the beginner routine, most places I have gone is relatively similar. I have gotten to some places where the it’s meant to be the beginner class and they were having to do handstands and all this stuff. I’m like that a beginner?
Good that they went away from you after trying now the one question is do they do anybody lay their hands on you and try and push you into positions?
Trevor Connor 1:09:06
Yes. And I don’t like Yes. Because it hurts. Does my back end?
Yeah, they shouldn’t be putting their hands on, you know, if it’s a gentle like, Hey, what about this because sometimes I’ll do that. But it’s a very gentle, I’m not physically moving you I’m just giving you tactile, like, I’ll touch my index fingers and say, okay, Trevor, can you bring your right hip back? So there’s more pressure on that foot than on that finger? And you’ll go No, okay. If they’re taking you and physically moving you into positions, like trying to jostle you like jogging a horse, you need to get up out of that class and leave right away. not okay. So it’s good that they left you alone. And the reason why I asked you is because you have the right mindset, in my opinion, for what you’re looking for. You’re looking around there and, you know, paying attention to what’s going on around you. So most of them are similar, because it’s this westernized, very corporate style of yoga. You can think you know, Lululemon Whatever else, but the yoga we’re doing is not what it was, you know, people like yoga is around since the 1400s, not like this, that was very mindful, it wasn’t focused on movement. The other concept is, is that, because they’re similar, they’re holding you in specific poses for longer periods of time. They’re trying to build up the tissue tolerance, which is not a bad thing, necessarily, as long as they’re not trying to put you into these outright bad positions. So I’m going to take a shot here and Chris, I’m guessing, have you have you tried yoga at all? Have you done one or two? Or are you kind of like, Yeah, not really,
Chris Case 1:10:33
there is a period of time where I was able to do yoga for free keyword for probably several months in a row. And I found it actually quite enjoyable, but not enough to I’m a cheapskate, I’ll admit it, I wouldn’t pay for it. But this would this instructor was very good. Never hands on the body. You know, it was not about holding poses for a long time, it was not a competition in any way, it was much more about relaxation. And I would end the classes wanting to curl up and take a nap because it was felt good. You know, that’s, that’s my idea of a good yoga session.
And for the vast majority of listeners out there, that’s what we want, we’re so wound up in our sport. And these positions, that’s the type where you have athletes come out with breakout sessions from yoga, they’re like yoga, solve my back pain, not really, you learn how to release stress, and you carry stress in your lower back. And then, you know, balancing that with the strength training is where it’s really a great way to go. That’s what we want out of yoga is we want to go through natural ranges of motion that we should have, or we did have, when I say should have, not everybody can extend their like behind them, I basketball players at a very high level, they don’t get full extension of their hips, they just don’t move that way. their hips are very introverted. That’s okay. But going for that, that relaxation, that mental relaxation, allowing you to dial back, Chris was at a hot yoga class, by the way, or that was regular, regular, okay, because the hot yoga class can be really problematic, where you’re actually overheating the body, artificially, and that can lead to more soreness. And a lot of us like to think soreness means more fitness. Not quite the case. But doing a yoga class like that once a week where you’re relaxing, and having that as your one day a week as off. If you’re not pushing tissues, you’re not pushing the body of the muscles to the extreme. That’s a fantastic way to spend your off day because you really are relaxing, you’re allowing the body to come back to homeostasis and all the different systems. If you’re not that type, there are a lot of people that are their mind is just running, okay, when it can I push, let’s use strength training is an alternative, let’s put you through positions and get you to fire those muscles and get you to activate the glutes, the posterior chain, also your abdominal hoop, getting you into good positions to again, create proximal stiffness for distal movement, then we’ll use strength training as an alternative. On the other side, if someone’s very bendy, and they come in and you put them on the time trial bike, especially as a bike for you’re like,
this is gonna be fun. How low? Can we get you and keep your power up? Then don’t that’s not go to yoga, unless it’s the type that Chris went to. Because you don’t need that necessarily. And that’s kind of where we have to, you know, the strength training as an alternative. It’s a tool. It’s just one tool. I would love to say everybody should come to me and you know, pick up the book, but that’s not the case. Some people are going to ask me, Hey, is the book for me? Let’s jump on a phone call for 10 minutes and figure out Nope, not for you. And I’ve done that I have this one guy every time I put a product out. Hey, is your certification for me? Nope. Hey, is this course for me? Nope. And then the last one, Hey, is this 12 week program for me? Actually it is but not yet next fall because he was already doing x. So it’s finding the right tool at the right time for the right athlete. And that’s where you can really unlock. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t try it. Don’t try. Don’t not try yoga. Well, Coach Brody was like, oh, yoga sucks. Oh, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying if it’s a competition, it sucks. But it’s also knowing your body. So that’s kind of where I’d go with it. And I’m really interested to hear more from you guys like Chris and Trevor, I’m really interested. You know, you both had very different experiences with yoga. I’m curious to know, Trevor, if you had gone to the yoga class that Kristin or maybe you did. Would you have been more inclined to continue with that? Do you think if it was more about the relaxation and leaving feeling distressed or just not for you,
Trevor Connor 1:14:30
Let me know actually, let me give you a little more of an answer to that. So when I was in British Columbia training out of the center, we had a very good yoga instructor who created a yoga program specifically for cyclists. And I did that for years and it was fantastic. But it was also everything you’re talking about. It was we were never pushed through things that we couldn’t do. She was very aware of of issues that cyclists have, and there was a big, relaxed Completely because she knew that we were training hard. And this was as much about us showing up on a Monday and relaxing. So it was fantastic. I loved it. It was when I moved to Toronto that I looked for some yoga studio, I’m sure there are good ones. I just unfortunately went to a couple places where it was more that they’d come put their hands on you. They tried to push me into downward dog and all that sort of stuff. And when this isn’t right, it wasn’t an issue with yoga. Actually. I agree with you. I think yoga done right is a good thing. It’s just finding yoga done. Right.
And, Chris, how about you? What would you have continued, if you would have been in the other type where they’re really trying to, like, position you and jostle you and? No,
Chris Case 1:15:45
definitely not. Yeah, I would have had the same reaction, I would have walked out. That’s not what I would have been seeking had I, you know, gone to a class like that. So I certainly wouldn’t have stuck around to have people forced me into positions or feel that need to compete with the person next to you on their yoga mat, trying to do some bendy thing that I couldn’t possibly do unless you broke my leg in half.
It’s funny because and I laugh because you’re using these words. And those are the same words that a lot of athletes, I’m sure you guys have heard as well. Like, I feel like they’re trying to break my leg trying to get me in a pose. Like, you know, we all have performance limiters and responses to our training. If we’re really looking to increase our power output and get more out of the energy, we putting out some people Yoga is okay. But it really depends on the instructor and understanding what the body is actually trying to get. I mean, you know, we’re talking about flexibility, strengthening and lengthening, like, to point it’s going to be good, we’re in a sport where we’re very crouched forward, and we’re very closed off. So the that’s why the breathing works. So well. And you know what, now that I think about it, if you guys are okay with it, I’m just gonna give away a chapter I’ll give away the performance limiters chapter. Because everything we’re talking about here is kind of covered in there.
Trevor Connor 1:17:01
That’s appreciated. Thank you.
Yeah, I mean, we’re, I’m just sitting here looking at what we discussed today. I can only make sense, right? Like there’s all different types of performance limiters. And if yours is that you’re losing range of motion, or you don’t have that balance, like stretching and mobility work within reason is absolutely for you. And there’s so many different paths because what I’m looking at here, like Trevor talked about going through all the the different physiology and the mobility for the tissues, the the adapt the adaptations to stretch, the neurophysiology, like for some people, yoga will be good, other people, strength will be good, other people, tempo, strength will be good. And it’s really a matter of like figuring out what are my performance limiters. And once you identify those, then you can kind of figure out and maybe, you know, Trevor, obviously, for you right now, the type of yoga you’re going to is awful, but maybe on the flip side of things, you know, having the relaxation, one will be fantastic for you. So I’m just, you know, kind of looking at it from that perspective of we can we can do a lot of good with this and helping people like better understand what’s my actual performance limiter? Is it that I’m walking around? And what do you say shuffling like a grandma, is that the verbiage?
Chris Case 1:18:09
Yep, basically? Or do I still shuffling like Trevor? Oh, shots fired?
Trevor Connor 1:18:15
you did that last time I was on? Oh,
Chris Case 1:18:19
but yeah, we have this thing where we like to pick on each other. He’s sick now too. So he doesn’t even have the energy to pick on me back. Do you? Oh, boy.
Trevor Connor 1:18:28
Breathe on, you have to say that’s a good point. All Wim
Chris Case 1:18:32
monogame. You’ve been on the show before. So you, you know this, you know the routine. And I know you like to talk. But we’re going to cut you off at 60 seconds. This time. You’ve got 60 seconds to sort of encapsulate everything we’ve talked about here today. And Ready, set, go.
I actually don’t like to talk that much. It’s just I love talking about training. My wife will tell you, I’m an introvert. As it comes to what we talked about today, it depends, you know, if you feel that you’re losing range of motion and muscles are tight, I would recommend starting off with a little bit of gentle yoga, but focusing more on the mindset and the relaxation side of things. And also going through the strength side of things with the centric isometrics, the 3131 tempo, but try different things and see what works for you. I like to follow what I call the Dan, john rule, have tried for two weeks in a row. Not every day. Again, we have that one day off a week. Try it for two weeks in a row. Is it working? Great. Keep going if not change one variable at one time and see how that goes just like bike fitting. We’re not gonna move you up and forward or up and back. We’re going to move the seat up and have you go through. So that’s what I look at. And just keep in mind when you read research. You really need to know how to read it, I think actually did a podcast. I don’t know if he released it or not but understand how to actually read the research. Don’t just see it posted in an article somewhere. The research says you actually need to go and look dissect the research. Who are the participants How do they test? Is it reliable?
is it accurate? Is
Chris Case 1:20:04
We actually we actually did an episode on that very subject called learning to trust the science Episode 85. So check that out, Trevor 60 seconds, you know how to do this, what are your take homes,
Trevor Connor 1:20:16
I am going to go back to that analogy of the elastic which like I said, really isn’t an analogy because muscles are the muscle tendon unit is a disco Alaska has viscoelastic properties, it is an elastic. So think of the two extremes. One is that short little old elastic that isn’t very stretchy, you don’t want that that can lead to injury. But at the same time, you don’t want that super long, then elastic that’s really floppy and can’t really hold very much. That doesn’t really snap back. Those are the two extremes, you don’t want to be on either of those extremes. You want that big, strong, supple elastic with a good snap, that’s the right length for what you’re trying to do. And that isn’t just oh, I’m going to do a ton of stretching, tennis stretching is just taking either those other two muscles and yank it on them yanking on them until they they snap or just get so long, you can’t use them. So I’m really glad that manakin brought in, you need to be doing strength training, you need to be doing all this other work so that you are helping that muscle to be supple to be the right length to have a good snap to it all the properties that you want for high performance muscle, Chris?
Chris Case 1:21:30
Well, I think I would refer back a little bit to manakins or take home, but also throw in my story or remind people of the the story of the high school track team that you might have been on or the high school basketball team that you might have been on. And this this belief by that coach or those athletes that Oh, you just have to do this is just part of what you do you get in the gym, every day, you do these stretches, you’re not really sure what you’re doing, you might not even be doing them the right way. You spend 15 minutes doing that and then you go about your workout or your run or your free throw, practice whatever it is. And sometimes you just shouldn’t take that stuff without rethinking whether that’s appropriate or not, whether that’s improving your performance or not, or whether it’s actually leading to injury susceptibility or some sort of damage. So really assess what we’ve said today and make sure what we’re what you’re doing now is appropriate and what you find that works for you is the best fit for you you as an athlete, you as an individual you for your your anatomy right down to what discipline within cycling that you’re trying to improve. That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Fast Talk at Fast Talk Labs.com or call and leave us a voicemail at 719-800-2112 Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Play, or wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts. Be sure to leave us a rating and review. Those reviews are important as the more we get, the easier it is for other people to find Fast Talk. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for manakin Brody pace in McKelvin and Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening.