One of the traits that all really great athletes share is a strong degree of body awareness and an understanding of body mechanics. The problem is that it can be fairly common for youth athletes to understand a lot of the theory behind body mechanics without really conceptualizing these concepts while you are working out. Whether you are just training, practicing, or actually playing your game, really understanding how the body works can get you to your next level.
Did You Know … ?
- • You can do more pushups if you keep your quads activated and push back through your heels?
- • You can lift your hips higher in a tabletop position if you drive your knees away from the body?
- • You gain better core strength when you work on back extensions?
- • You can lift more weight if you keep your muscles stretched out?
All of these points and more come back to basic physics and body mechanics, and the best way to work on these concepts, physically and mentally, is to also work on your stretching.
Stretching And Athletics
For many youth athletes, stretching is just something that you do before and after your work out. As a warm up or cool down, stretching is ideal, because it can regulate the blood flow to the muscles and help to move lactic acid out of the area. However, stretching as a separate activity can give even greater benefits to overall performance, and at Core1Inc., we help teach our clients how to really feel the effects of stretching on their overall ability.
A basic theory in physics is that when a lever is longer, it can lift more weight with less effort. When you think about your muscles and joints, you should also realize that these are essentially complex levers within the body. When you engage in stretching activities, you’re lengthening your muscles and ligaments, which also means that you are lengthening your internal lever mechanisms. The result? You can lift more weight, explode with more power, and even have better endurance, because you require less energy to perform these tasks.
Think about how you feel after doing a superset of bicep work. Even athletes who are in really great condition will often be walking around for a few days with “T-rex arms”. This is because the weight lifting work has shortened the muscle fibers as they are rebuilding, and insufficient stretching has intensified this shortening.
Another problem with not stretching enough is that even though you may have recovered some by the time you work biceps again, the binding of the muscle fibers can mean that even while you are gaining bulk, you may not actually be gaining strength. In this case, pain and gain don’t really go hand in hand.
The Real Meaning Of Being In Shape
Stretching helps to condition the body to perform better, but it also improves your mental in-shapeness, since stretching activities teach you how to pay close attention to body mechanics. You will begin to become very aware of how the muscles interact, but you will also start to become aware of how much of a positive impact stretching can have on your overall performance.
If you are interested in learning more about body mechanics, getting in better shape, or even just avoiding the dreaded T-rex arms, then we encourage you to contact Core1Inc. We can get you started on a stretching program that fits your personal goals and your sports performance.