Is There a Benefit to Stretching for OCR Improvement?

man stretching
Is there a benefit to stretching and your own OCR improvement?   Personally, I was always one to shy away from doing any kind of flexibility, mobility, static stretching, etc… in the past. Of course, I wish I would have been better educated as a young athlete on the true benefits of static stretching, foam rolling, and mobility movements.  It wasn’t until I had my first major surgery due to a sports-related accident where it all began to click.  During the rehabilitation process, we spent the first 4-6 weeks on doing only mobility and deep tissue work.  I learned that these movements were necessary to create the movements I would need in order to build strength and get back to doing what I love.  This was where the lightbulb went off.  My PT answered every ridiculous question I had on stretching and movements, and after 4 months I was armed (literally and figuratively) with tons of knowledge on the importance of incorporating a flex routine into your weekly regiments.  

There are a multitude of ways to improve your flexibility and mobility.  Here are a few examples: 

Yoga: a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and sometimes meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote physical and emotional well-being.” -Merriam-Webster Static Stretching: “Static stretching means a stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds. Static stretching is the most common form of stretching found in general fitness and is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility.”HumanKinetics.com  SMR (more commonly known as foam rolling): “SMR focuses on the neural and fascial systems in the body that can be negatively influenced by poor posture, repetitive motions, or dysfunctional movements (1). These mechanically stressful actions are recognized as an injury by the body, initiating a repair process called the Cumulative Injury Cycle (Figure 1) (1). This cycle follows a path of inflammation, muscle spasm, and the development of soft tissue adhesions that can lead to altered neuromuscular control and muscle imbalance (1-4). The adhesions reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and can eventually cause a permanent change in the soft tissue structure, referred to as Davis’s Law. SMR focuses on alleviating these adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal muscle motion and function (1,5).” – NASM Deep Tissue work: “Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is especially helpful for chronic aches and pains and contracted areas such as stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.” – Elements Massage Massage: “manipulation of tissues (as by rubbing, kneading, or tapping) with the hand or an instrument for relaxation or therapeutic purposes” – Merriam-Webster Chiropractic: “a system of noninvasive therapy which holds that certain musculoskeletal disorders result from nervous system dysfunction arising from misalignment of the spine and joints and that focuses treatment especially on the manual adjustment or manipulation of the spinal vertebrae.” – Merriam-Webster  Joint Mobility: “the degree to which an articulation (where two bones meet) can move before being restricted by surrounding tissues (ligaments/tendons/muscles etc.). Otherwise known as the range of uninhibited movement around a joint.” – AceFitness.org   Know this: your body is unique and one of a kind.  You may find that you like all of these or you prefer certain movement patterns over others.  No matter what, including a regular regimen of these kind of movement patterns, stretches and tissue work can only help. 

Benefits of consistent flexibility and mobility:

When done properly, stretching can do more than just increase flexibility. According to M. Alter, benefits of stretching include:
  • enhanced physical fitness
  • enhanced ability to learn and perform skilled movements
  • increased mental and physical relaxation
  • enhanced development of body awareness
  • reduced risk of injury to joints, muscles, and tendons
  • decreased muscular soreness
  • reduced muscular tension
  • increased suppleness due to stimulation of the production of chemicals which lubricate connective tissues
  • reduced severity of painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) in females 
Personally, I started incorporating consistent mobility and flexibility workouts in my overall fitness programs.  My programs for a few years now, have consisted of cardio, flexibility and strength. The injuries I have sustained have been things like broken collarbone, sprained ankles and some major bruising due to a weekend of OCR racing.  I do feel that incorporating flex and stretching movements into my routine greatly help reduce the risk of injury during races, as well as other high-intensity training sessions.  I find that even my nagging prolonged injuries (calf strains, etc…) tend to stay away if I incorporate these things often. Do you incorporate flexibility and mobility?  If so what are your go to’s?  How often do you do this? Let us know in the comments! Interested in incorporating flex movements into your routine but at a loss for ideas?  You can purchase our low-cost in-season Flex programs, written by Palmer Shape, here. Take care and see you at a race soon!!     

Additional source used: M. Alter; MIT Accessed Aug. 14 2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *