“Make sure to stretch your hamstrings a lot!”
This was the advice I got from doctors and physical therapists when I hurt my back playing college basketball. Every therapy session, every time before practice I would sit there time and time again working on stretching my hamstrings. I THOUGHT I was doing the right thing. It wouldn’t be MUCH later that I would find out I was doing it all wrong.
I was THAT guy, constantly “tight”. Hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, yea, just always felt really tight. That motivated me to try corrective exercise and mobility programs galore! Some stuff helped a bit here, some a bit there, but nothing really transformative.
That was really frustrating because I would routinely devote up to 30 minutes trying to improve how my body felt and moved with very little in return. Now, to be completely fair, I would find that some of my training was part of the problem, but there would be a bigger lesson I would learn shortly.
It wouldn’t be till after my neck surgery I would start to find something unusual. In an effort to regain my right arm, I tried the same age old idea of stretching and some isolated muscle training. Not a lot happened, in fact, I found not much improvement at all. Pretty much just willing to experiment I did what a lot of scientists do. In my lab (aka, gym), I tried some specialized core strengthening exercises. Within a few reps, BOOM, my arm completely changed!
The range of motion was almost perfect and I was like, “what the heck?!” It was totally awesome that my little experiment worked, but I needed to know WHY it worked!
Re-thinking Your Flexibility
Over time and A LOT of research I began developing a pretty good theory on why I noticed such a dramatic change. Of course it didn’t hurt that I started seeing the SAME results with people I worked with time and time again.
So, what’s up?! A lot of fitness professionals will often discuss how bad sitting is for us. For a number of reasons long periods of sitting can be detrimental to our health. One of the more commonly discussed issues is impact to posture and flexibility.
Most of us are told that long-term sitting makes our muscles “tight” and we develop these flexibility issues because the “good” postural muscles get weak and long and the “bad” ones are tight and strong. That ends up being a recommendation of fixing flexibility and posture by stretching and strengthening. Are we right?!
Kinda! Sitting is a problem, but maybe not for THAT reason. When we sit for long periods we are artificially supported. Our bodies are pretty smart and when it doesn’t have to work, it won’t! The support we get from sitting causes many of the deep core stabilizers to turn off because the body doesn’t have to use them.
When we go then to move or train these muscles are STILL on vacation. That ends up resulting in the wrong muscles and structures trying to create stability for our body. That often ends up in “tightness” that many of experience. The answer? If we can turn these deep core stabilizers back on our body will “release” many of these chronically tight structures to allow us to move better.
I showed last week the impact that such ideas have to my own upper body flexibility (you can see HERE), but what about that nagging hamstring? While sitting is a problem, so is injury. Trauma to the body can cause an alteration in who is trying to support our body’s movement. Again, we would see the wrong structures working, cutting down how well we move. The result? In the following picture you will see my flexibility at the start of my training, then after stretching and soft-tissue, then finally after 6 minutes of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Restoration exercises.
Besides the BIG change in flexibility you see that 6 minutes wasn’t boring old corrective exercises. I WORKED! Now, you don’t want or need to kill yourself doing this, but paying close attention to proper movement and tension will cause your heart rate to jump pretty high!
Instead of thinking you have to spend 30 minutes of stretching and “corrective exercise” to warm-up or hitting the treadmill to get your sweat on, you can do 5-6 minutes of direct DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Restoration exercises and you are ready to rock n’ roll! Now, do you HAVE to had the trauma that I went through to benefit from this work? Not at all! Check out what Tim Peterson (chief instructor for FitRanx) found in his work on his turkish get-up…
“Normally I don’t post my own workout videos, I feel like the inter web is flooded with them and my lifts are nothing compared to those I look up to for inspiration. But I need to give a big shoutout to Josh Henkin @ultimatesandbag, for a few small tips I learned at the DVRT Restoration Workshop. After some “baby” get-ups and other DVRT drills in my warmup, and a small technique change, I PR’d my Get-Up with a 40kg on each side. This video is from my first rep, and it was literally the first time I’ve ever attempted it. What makes it impressive is that I’ve only done a Get-Up with a 36kg once before this. The 36 flew up and I had to go for it. Thanks Josh!! #ultimatesandbag #dvrt #fitranx #turkishgetup @kettlebellkings @fitranx”
So, what SHOULD you be doing? Well, our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Restoration program is coming online soon, but a great start are some of the exercises shown below and Physical Therapist, Jessica Bento’s “DVRT Better Backs, Knees, & Shoulders” HERE. Aim for 2-3 sets, quality over quantity so go slow and stop before you get too tired!
DVRT Lunge Press Outs