Thursday, August 21, 2008

More on Resistance Stretching

As I posted here I started rereading Bob Cooley's "The Genius of Flexibility" a couple of weeks ago and remain intrigued and frustrated with this technique. I am intrigued because as I play around with the stretches and try them out I am finding some that work for me. I am frustrated because there is not a lot of information out there on the technique (even though it is getting some big publicity -thanks to Dara Torres). I also have not received either DVD I ordered. The DVD from Innovative Body Solutions is not supposed to be released and shipped until August 22nd so I knew that would take awhile. I haven't received or heard a word about the DVD I ordered from from Bob Cooley's site Meridian Flexibility Center yet and it has been almost two weeks. Maybe these places are swamped with the interest in the technique. I would like to learn more so I await the arrival of the DVDs. Here is Bob Cooley's book on resistance streching. It is the only book I have found on the this type of stretching.

Here is a new Youtube video of Bob Cooley doing the hamstring stretch with the help of a partner.

Here is another video I found of a back or lat stretch using resistance stretching.

This ABC News "Person of the Week" profile on Dara Torres has a some brief looks at her stretching.

The other frustrating thing about resistance stretching is that the stretches don't list what muscles are being stretched. They can be listed by the body part, the emotions, or the psychology they effect. I have found that the "gall bladder" stretches seem to pinpoint the muscles I need to stretch. I do the hamstring, the quads, and one that seems to work nicely on my hips is one where (from a sitting or lieing down position) hold one knee with the same side hand and hold the ankle or foot with the other hand. I pull the ankle and knee toward the opposite shoulder as I resist by pushing away with the foot and leg. This does some really good work on my hips. I felt better and stronger when running Monday and Wednesday in the hips area from doing these stretches.

Luther from has been kind enough to answer some of my questions about resistance stretching with a thoughtful reply. This is part of what he wrote:

"Hi Jim,

I took a look at the pictures on your blog. It's difficult for me to know exactly what's going on with your left leg, but it is clear that the thigh is internally rotated while your lower leg/foot is externally rotated. I'm not sure what is causing this. I can appreciate how you wish to find a way to resolve this issue so you can live the active lifestyle you yearn for. My hope for you is that RFST can assist you in this endeavor. I have worked with many people who had previously resigned to the tension/pain that they were experiencing and had come to the conclusion that it was something they would just have to accept and deal with for the rest of their lives. In many of those cases, me and that person have been able to work together to create permanent improvements in those imbalanced areas which really surprised them.

I think there are some health problems that are difficult, if not impossible, to reverse, but am confident that most of the biomechanical problems that people experience can be resolved with RFST. Again, it's difficult for me to give you definite advice on your situation, but I can offer you a bit of what I know about the "shifts" you may be experiencing.

When there is a muscle in the body that is tight or weak, other muscles are recruited to make movements for the tight/weak muscle group. We call this substitution. When this occurs, the bones are pulled out of their proper alignment. This creates a twisting in the body that can cause all sorts of problems.

When you practice Resistance Stretching, you begin to take tension out of the chronically tight muscle groups while strengthening the weak muscles. Relieving the tension allows the muscle to execute it's proper designated actions. For example, the action of the lateral quads is to flex, abduct, and externally rotate the leg. If you were to Resistance Stretch the quads, you would ideally resist by flexing, abducting, and externally rotating the leg, as another person extends, adducts, and internally rotates the leg. Chronic tension would be removed from the quads as you do this and as a result, the bones that had been pulled out of alignment by the substituting muscles would return to their ideal resting position. This may explain the "shift" or little pop in the capsule area you experienced.

However, it takes many repeats of resistance stretching on the chronically tight muscle groups to retrain the muscles permanently. So, as a result, the substituting muscles may once again pull the bones back out of alignment after your stretching session. Additionally, it really requires assisted stretching with another person to make the changes permanent, as it takes twice the force to stretch a muscle as it does to strengthen it, which is something you can't do on your own. Plus, when stretching yourself, you won't be able to resist in all three planes at once. For example, when doing the quad stretch at the wall, you are mainly getting extension and flexion at the hip, without much or any adduction/abduction, internal/external rotation. Unfortunately, I don't know of any trainers in New Hampshire, but there are some in Massachusetts and New York.

However, you can still accomplish quite a bit with self stretching. At the very least, you should be able to prevent your imbalance from getting worse. You have the right idea by stretching the target muscle group and then the balancing, the medial hamstrings. Remember not to push yourself through the stretch. When you get to the point where you can no longer resist, or it feels too tough or painful, stop, do a repeat, and try stretching the balancing muscle groups.

Hopefully this helps you out. Let me know if you have any other questions, and I wish you the best.


What impresses me so far about resistance stretching is that it doesn't hurt or tighten my muslces like traditional stretching. Despite all the force that is generated during the stretch it seems to be "good" force that in my case seems powerful enough to undue all the damage in my muscles and hopefully move things back to the place where the muscles start working the way they are supposed to work.

On Luther's site you can also order for under $10 variations on the stretches. It is a good way to check out the stretches and find ones that work for you. I ordered them and they are then all them posted online for you with pictures and descriptions. The stretch I really like can be seen on one of Luther's free preview pages. Look for Gall Bladder stretch.

I have kept way from running for the past week except for Monday night and Wednesday night. Monday I did the last trail 5k race. I am still about 1 1/2 minutes behind last years time at these races. With my heel still somewhat sore (still don't know if it plantar fasciitis or something else) I have been just mountain biking. The break from running feels good and my body feels good without the stresses of inefficient running.

Monday nights trail race was a race where you start depending on your best time in previous races. The fastest guys didn't show up which meant I started last and by myself. I wore my Nike Free v5 shoes that I have been walking around in all summer. They are so comfortable I didn't want to use them running. So this was my first run in them. They felt OK. I don't know how good they are for racing but my hips felt a bit better than they had been. I think I just missed breaking 20 minutes but it was hard to run by myself until I caught and passed people.

Wednesday I did the track workout. I did 8 X 800m all between 2:55 and 3:00 (except the first which was about 3:03). I used the Nike Free v3 without insoles (they are a bit small). Again I liked the feel. I have used Frees a couple of years ago for some training (up to 16 milers) but never for intervals. After 3 intervals I switched to the Asics Hyperspeeds because the frees were a bit small. They felt clunkier but I went faster. However I am wondering if the bottom of this shoe is too rigid. I had been wearing these for the few weeks before my heel started hurting.

My heel area was OK during the intervals but at the end of the workout (just like the race on Monday) it tightened up.

I will keep from running for a bit to see how things react or hopefully heal.

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