Strength Training is Better than Stretching
Stretching and mobility has become a hot topic. There is a huge emphasis on prehab/rehab in both the athletic world and sedentary desk worker population. While the intentions are good, it is not the most efficient model. If stretching and foam rolling/mobility drills make you feel good then of course go for it! But when it comes to results, it's like cutting your lawn with a pair of scissors. It's going to take quite a while to make a change in the tight and weak tissues that are causing the tightness in the first place. We are in a society that is already pressed for time to workout, so how are we fitting in 15-20 mins of stretching?
The answer lies in weight training. (Proper) Weight training has a laundry list of benefits for mental and physical health. If you can combine everything into one session (stretching, building muscle, burning fat/calories) then why would you want to separate each? Outside of soft tissue specialists, doing full range of motion weight training is going to have you feeling young again. Most people are afraid to do full range of motion and this is why they get tight in the first place. So if someone tells you to stop at 90 degrees, seek advice elsewhere. If you are using a weight that causes tightness/pain going full range, then go lighter! Once your joints, muscles and brains get used to this new range and you make those connections, then you can go back to using your normal weights but with greater depth!
Here we have a Front Foot Elevated Split Squat. This needs to be in everyone's life in some shape or form. This is an advanced version with a barbell, beginners would use body weight, a cable or dumbbells. At the bottom my knee is going past my toes which will stretch my ankle and I'm placing a big stretch on my hips. Adding in the pause helps the tissues and joints relax even more. I guarantee if you are doing this multiple times a week your hips, knees and back will be feeling MUCH better. This has helped me achieve full range of motion in my squats. (and get strong AF)
That's a PR of 370 lbs. Before I trained full range of motion I used to get BAD back pain and I would buckle right around 90 degrees with anything over 315 lbs. So by doing those split squats to open my hips and then using lighter weight and going as deep as possible, there is a drastic improvement in my flexibility, mobility and back pain. In fact the only time I have an issue with my back is if I sit in a twisted position like a dummy, or if I'm doing a million reps on the deadlift because form slips. Now the average person who just wants to get in shape and lose weight doesn't have to worry about loading up the bar. But it's always a shame when you don't test your limits! (safely)
Now let's talk about the athletic world. Injuries and tears are at an all time high. Part of it is because they do no do proper weight training. Another issue is lack of sleep, but let's talk about their activity level. Many athletes and trainers are into entertrainment. Let's do stuff that looks cool and let's do stuff that mimics my sport. You know what mimics your sport? YOUR SPORT. You play that enough all year round, you need to work on your weaknesses in the gym. Whether it's being weak or tight or imbalanced, athletes aren't training properly. Trainers get them to buy into prehab work which wastes time and doesn't prepare the tissues to handle load. Everyone is into the latest $400 massage gun that makes you feel good for a few minutes but doesn't create a change in the tissue to actually promote recovery. Then they stay up until 1 am and sleep for 5 hours and wonder why they aren't performing.
The reasons you are not fast/performing well: 1) not recovered 2) too much body fat 3) neurological inhibition (tight) 4) WEAK. Fat cannot flex. If your muscles are inhibited they will not fire properly. If you are weak you will not be fast. So how can we achieve this? Full range of motion weight training with an emphasis on eccentrics. Take that split squat video....if you go 4 seconds on the way down, pause for 2 seconds at the bottom and then come back up you will fix weakness, tightness and inhibition. This will get your glutes to fire. You can practice running drills all you want but if you are tight and weak your form and technique can only improve so much.
I can go on and on about improving performance but you get the idea. Just because the masses are sitting on a foam roller and doing band work doesn't make it the best option ;)