Can You Stretch Cold?
You have probably wondered to yourself whether you need a warmup before you take your body into extended ranges of motion and deep stretches.
You may have also heard the common analogy that your muscles are like rubber bands and that you should never pull them to full length first thing or they will tear!
Instead, the mainstream advice is that you need to always stretch out GRADUALLY and make sure your muscles are warmed up safely with smaller ranges of motion and static stretches before getting into deeper stretches or more intense activities with larger ranges of motion.
But then you encounter situations that arouse your curiosity and challenge these guidelines –
Someone decides momentarily to drop into a front split on a dance floor at a party with ease…
You see a person randomly squat down really deep to pick something up that they have suddenly dropped…
Or even someone come into a yoga class late and get straight into a deep pose.
So what is the truth? is it essential to do a complete warmup every time you want your body to go into extended ranges of motion?
It seems like some people get away without it – so why can’t you?
Well that is exactly the answer to this question – it’s not a matter of WHAT but rather WHO.
And no we’re not talking about one person being specially gifted or endowed with supernatural flexibility from birth.
We’re talking about the level of training each person has for the feat they are trying to accomplish.
No, it is not possible to perform the splits or any other extended range of motion exercise safely without a thorough warm up.
And yes, it IS possible to perform the splits or any other extended range of motion exercise safely without a thorough warm up.
It all boils down to how well conditioned the person’s body is to the extended range of motion and how strong they are in that extended position.
You see your body is incredible at adapting to what is required of it. If it is functionally challenged frequently enough, it will adapt this as the new norm and adapt itself accordingly.
Think of this much like lifting weights—for a beginner establishing a new personal record for the weight lifted, it requires carefully warming up and increasing the loading in a warmup phase.
However, with progressive training and strength development over time, the same weight can eventually be lifted cold and even used as a warmup weight.
In the same way, those who may struggle to achieve full range of motion, might after months of progressive training, be able to display their full range of motion (e.g. do a front split) at any time without much preparation or warmup.
And despite what many people will tell you with the aforementioned rubber band analogy (which isn’t true anyway – muscles extend more like antennas), the truth is, it far less about the structural tissues being ready but more so about the nervous system being ready for the demands of a given activity.
A general cardio warm up in most instances is advocated from a safety aspect for doing the extended range of motion.
However, the degree of warm up and time spent getting into the target positions can range from nothing to a lot! It all depends on the level of strength and conditioning the person has in the required positions.
And yes, the word strength was mentioned above.
If you have been following along with our previous content, you will know the importance of strength through range of motion.
The stronger you grow in certain positions, the more easily accommodating the body and nervous system grows with your movement demands.
The stronger your body develops in certain positions, the harder it is to break in those positions.
And what is the best way to achieve strength in deeper and deeper positions? Through isometric stretching techniques.
If you’re wondering which specific isometric exercises you can do for the range of motion or stretch you are trying to improve, then enter your details in the box at the end of this info piece to ask one of our expert coaches.
And on the topic of static stretches in your warmup, most people make this mistake and relax into these types of stretches before a workout.
Instead they should be using controlled movements and dynamic excitation of the muscles, before tensing them in the lead up to the given activity.
So is a warmup required for extended ranges of motion and displaying maximal flexibility?
It depends on who you are. If you’re sick of spending plenty of time warming up to get into certain positions, then there is a solution – practice stretching more and get flexible!
Increase your starting threshold like you do with your strength and other training over time.
If you’re unsure of how to warmup and you’re winding up frustrated, in pain or even injured after your training, then get in touch with us today.
No matter what your level, or where your body is currently at, we will meet you there.
One of our expert coaches can assess you and then help you with a personally designed stretching routine and roadmap to take all the guesswork out of the equation for you.
We guarantee that you will not only feel better for it, but that you will also be performing better for it too.
Reach out to one of our expert coaches today (via the box below) to see if you’re a good fit for our program.
We will work with you to develop a tailored plan that will remove your frustrations and limitations whilst putting you on the fast-track towards your goals!