Flexibility for Olympic Style Weightlifting
One of the most often neglected and misunderstood aspects of Olympic weightlifting is flexibility or when and how we should do it. There are many different stances on whether we should work on flexibility before we workout. Some say it’s detrimental to success and others say that it’s incredibly important.
We encourage all of our lifters to stretch before they perform their warmup and after each training session. Why? Because this is going to ensure that their muscles do not become unbearably tight from using them everyday and it is going to allow them to consistently attain good positions. The tight spots that develop turn into pain zones and when those zones develop we have to target them specifically and work to correct the issue before it becomes a bigger issue.
Stretching before the workout allows for a greater range of motion and a much greater chance for liters to get into the positions they need to get into and ultimately hold those positions without pain or restrictions. After we stretch we will often get on a foam roller or use a lacrosse ball to target potential hot spots, then move into our active warmup and finally into a barbell based warmup focusing on establishing good positions for the movements that have been programmed for the day.
A recent study in the journal of applied physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism showed that static stretching can briefly inhibit the ability of the body to generate power. These effects were only present when someone would stretch for more than 60 seconds and then immediately perform the activity with no other warmup. The study showed that people who stretched for at least 5 minutes before the warmup were less likely to strain or tear a muscle.
Don’t ignore stretching for fear that it will cause injury or reduce explosiveness. If you ignore it injuries will accumulate from the tight muscles that have been neglected and you will eventually have to do the stretching in a rehab program. Simply sitting on a lacrosse ball everyday and hoping some magic will happen and pain will go away is never a good option. The ideal situation would include stretching, an active warmup, the workout and a cool down that includes stretching and mobility work.
Don’t know where to begins? Check out ROMWOD for a great daily stretching routine!