The Goldilocks Zone
Get ready to stretch the truth. No, Dr. Juris and Gregory are not promoting little white lies, they’re re-investigating stretching, along with world-class neurophysiologist, Dr. David Behm. Stretching and flexibility are topics that seemingly can’t get settled, and there’s no shortage of conventional wisdom, from being insufficient, to being excessive. This episode unveils the real science behind stretching and flexibility, and explains the difference between too little, too much, or being in the “Goldilocks Zone.”
Goldilocks? No, we’re not talking about porridge this week, but food is on the menu during this truly enlightening conversation. What does a bottle of ketchup have in common with your muscular system? Hint; it’s not the color red. That’s just one of the many interesting questions we’ll answer in this episode about stretching, flexibility, warm-up and performance. And don’t fret, this discussion comes chock full of empirical research findings. Joining us to help digest stretching and flexibility, is a very highly published guest on the subject, Dr. David Behm.
The conversation begins with the suggestion that stretching, as a catch-all term, is probably inappropriate. Having many different modes (static, dynamic, ballistic, PNF, etc) and intended outcomes (improved performance, injury prevention, increased range of motion), stretching, as unveiled by the group, is very confounding.
Dave spearheads the conversation by describing the changing paradigms of stretching over the past thirty years. He reviews some of the early research on static stretching, which has since been interpreted, or mis-interpreted as the case may be, as detrimental. Some of the current attitudes towards static stretching, however, are actually based on research in which the back muscles of chickens were stretched for thirty minutes! How does that compare to a ten-second human hamstring stretch? Listen as Dave, PJ and GG provide some answers.
From there the discussion turns to the research that really does support, among other things, practical applied static stretching. Dave discusses the differences between stretching for short- vs long-term changes, and how and where those adaptations take place. Have you ever stretched your calf in order to improve range of motion at your shoulder? Ridiculous, right? Well, perhaps you might reconsider after listening to this podcast!
Listen to learn about diffuse noxious inhibitory control and how that can affect pain, relaxation and ultimately, range of motion. Imagine how you’ll impress your friends at your next Zoom dinner party when you whip that one out!
Perhaps, you’re one of many who supports the objective of achieving maximum range of motion. You may be less convinced after Dr. J reveals his research findings on highly skilled basketball players. Dr. Behm ultimately explains the meaning of the Goldilocks Zone and Dr. J concludes with a different perspective on stretching. The fog that surrounds stretching should finally dissipate. Whether you stretch, or don’t, this episode is a MUST LISTEN!
In this episode, we discuss
- Stretching for range of motion, warm-up and performance
- The different stretching modalities
- The challenges with interpreting stretching research
- The effects of foam rolling
- Finding the right flexibility balance
- Considering new perspectives
Acute - A condition of relatively rapid onset and short duration.
Autogenic inhibition - A neuromuscular process in which sensory mechanisms in tendons inhibit further contraction in the related muscles, after sensing increased tension.
Chronic - A condition of relatively slow onset and long duration.
Diffuse, noxious, inhibitory control - A process by which pain, sensed during stretching, results in inhibition and relaxation of muscles.
Electromechanical delay - The latency between a stretch sensed in the muscle and the ensuing contraction, or relaxation.
Fascicle - A bundle of muscle fibers surrounded by connective tissue.
Golgi tendon organ - A specialized sensory organ, located in tendons, which responds to increases in muscle tension by inhibiting further muscle contraction.
Inhibition - A specific reduction in neural stimulation and activation of a muscle.
Muscle spindle - A sensory nerve cell, located within skeletal muscle, with specialized fibers that transmit information about change in length, and rate of change of length to the central nervous system.
Nuclear bag fibers - A cluster of fibers within the muscle spindle that is sensitive to dynamic changes in muscle length.
Nuclear chain fibers - A sequential chain of sensory fibers, located in the muscle spindle, that detects changes in the length of muscle.
Plastic - A semi-permanent state of muscle length.
Stretch tolerance - The ability of soft tissues to withstand varying degrees of stretch.
Thixotropic - Improving the viscosity of tissues in order to enhance fluidity and mobility.
Behm, D.G. and Chaouachi, A. ( 2011). A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic
stretching on performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 111(11): 2633-2651.
Behm, D.G. and Kibele, A. (2007). Effects of differing intensities of static stretching on jump performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 101(5): 587-594.
Behm, D.G. et al. (2016). Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 41(1): 1-11.
Bisconti, A.V. et al (2020). Evidence for improved systemic and local vascular function after long‐term passive static stretching training of the musculoskeletal system. The Journal of Physiology. 598(17): 3645-3666.
Chaouachi, A., et al. (2010). Effect of Warm-Ups Involving Static or Dynamic Stretching on Agility, Sprinting, and Jumping Performance in Trained Individuals. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24(8): 2001-2011.