Onward and Upward: “To Stretch or Not to Stretch….That is the question”

Stretching is one of the most misunderstood practices in the realm of fitness and sports performance. A long standing staple in training sessions, it is commonly performed incorrectly, performed at the wrong time or avoided for the wrong reason (most common thing we see).

By the end of this post you should be able to see the benefits of stretching and why we utilize it in our sessions (or how to place it into your routine if you are hitting a workout solo).


  • Can stretching make me weaker?
  • I heard that I should not perform any stretching before I exercise or play a sport?
  • Doesn’t stretching increase the risk of injury?

    Can stretching make me weaker?

Stretching is sometimes avoided entirely. Especially by athletes who are concerned with losing strength or experiencing a decrease in performance. Holding long static stretches before executing a high intensity lift or movement may have an impact on the stretch shortening cycle of the muscle.

However, most of us are not going hold a long passive hamstring stretch and immediately pop up into a heavy set of back squats or deadlifts. Proper stretching of the muscle requires breathing, relaxation, and a parasympathetic state to be performed correctly. Odds are that what most folks consider stretching is more like jamming their connective tissues, ligaments, and joints into aggressive end range of motion and uncomfortably holding them there until the pain is overwhelming. The positions are wrong. The intensity is too high. The body doesn’t relax. Stretching is not achieved.

Performing proper stretching has actually been shown to IMPROVE strength as the muscle is able to contract properly and generate force through a greater range of motion.


I heard that I should not perform any stretching before I exercise or play a sport?

Stretching before exercise or sport can actually increase performance. The key is knowing how long to stretch. A meta-analyses of studies around stretching and the ability to generate strength or power in subsequent effort found some pretty clear data.

Holding stretches for less than 30 seconds had no negative effect on the ability to jump, sprint, or produce force in resistance training movements. Holding stretches for 30 seconds or longer lead to decreases in the ability to produce force with longer stretch times leading to more significant decrease.

Key Takeaway: Perform dynamic stretching and short duration static stretching before exercise or sport. Take the muscles through a progressively increasing range of motion to improve circulation and prepare the body for performance. Hint…hint…think of the perfect stretch routine we perform regularly before we hit olympic lifts.


Doesn’t stretching increase the risk of injury?

Based on the first two myths being debunked you probably know where this one is heading… The idea that stretching increases risk of injury is tied in with the lack of knowledge around proper timing and execution of stretching protocols. In fact in today’s society where we spend more time sitting, in poor positions, with our shoulders hunched and necks cranked forward as we peer at our cellphones and computer screens.

We’ve already established a dynamic stretching and short duration (< :30 seconds) static stretching routine can help prepare the body for performance, but there is a huge benefit to longer duration static stretching post workout and during active recovery sessions. By addressing some commonly tight muscles like the pectoralis or psoas we are able to correct our bodies posture and alignment. Stretching these two muscles helps provide stability to the hip and shoulder joints and can significantly decrease injury risk.


So now that we’ve debunked some of the misconceptions around stretching you should feel confident about incorporating stretching into your training and why we utilize it during our group classes….or atleast, take it a little more seriously (focus) when we prep you for lifts with the perfect stretch. 

Onward and Upward: ‘Fruitsandvegetables is one word?’

When did “Fruits and Vegetables” become 1 word?


Fruits and vegetables seems to have become one word when it comes to giving advice on a healthy diet. Both definitely have a place in a healthy approach to food intake, however these two vary different food groups must be approached with different strategies. When it comes to optimizing health you need to choose the foods that best support your health and training needs.

We must first understand that fruits and vegetables have varying macronutrient and fiber contents. In addition they can also contain different types of vitamins, minerals, and other key micronutrients. They contain different types of carbohydrates that affect their digestion and effect on your blood sugar.


“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” -Michael Pollan


In America most folks are still missing out on many essential nutrients and simply do not consume enough vegetables. In schools we were all encouraged to have either fruits or veggies. Most of realize now that 8oz of orange juice is not going to provide the same nutrients as 1 cup of broccoli. Whole fruits do contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals but when turned into concentrated juices they are not much different than drinking a soda.

Even as an adult you may be guilty of eating 2 or 3 bananas in a day but neglected consuming foods like green vegetables that have true health benefits.

Fruits are higher in sugar and unless you are a high level athlete training multiple times per day you probably do not need to consume that many carbohydrates in your diet. A piece of fruit to fuel your workout and some fast digesting carbs post workout should be the majority of your “carb” intake. Fill the rest of your meals with vegetables that will make you feel full and contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

When you are consuming fruits focus on fresh seasonal fruit that will have a low impact on blood sugar. Dark berries are one of the best fruits in this regard and contain high levels of antioxidants. Post-WOD kiwis and pineapples are a great choice.


In the end, don’t forget or neglect to eat your fruits or your vegetables (2 separate words!). A healthy diet should consist mostly of healthy fats, high quality proteins, and complex carbohydrates from vegetables which are nutrient dense and have a minimal effect on insulin. This approach is a crucial part of you getting the most out of your hard work in the gym.

 

Onward and Upward: ‘3 Exercises to Help Stay Ahead of the Muscle Tightness Storm’

Community, Fitness, Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville

The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since it’s range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy. 

A common issue seen causing that dreaded lower back is due to tight hip flexors, tight spinal erectors, accompanied by weak or underdeveloped abs and glutes. The tightness of the body in one area causes another area of the body to become weak.


“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb


So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are three things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.


  1. Single leg glute bridges, to strengthen the core & glutes. Aim for 3 sets of 15 on each side. Plant the bottom of your feet and palms firmly on the floor. Stack knees above ankles. Lift one foot off the ground and perform a single glute bridge with the other, pressing firmly into your palms, shoulders, and foot to take any pressure off the neck. Try to get the hips as high as possible, then lower to the ground.

  2. Couch Stretch, loosen the tight hip flexors Aim for 2 minutes on each side. Using a couch or a bench, get into a low lunge in front of your object of choice, and the goal of this stretch is to use the front leg to support your weight as you put your back foot on a couch or bench and get your knee as close to the couch or bench as possible to stretch the hip of the back leg. 

  3. Supine single-leg twists to loosen the tight muscles in the lower back. Lay on your back, hands out to a T, and legs together, bring your right knee up to your chest and let it fall to the left side of your body. Try to keep the spine stacked in a straight line. Repeat on the left leg, bringing left knee to chest then letting it fall to your right, knee resting on the ground or a block. Spend at least a minute on each side.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches (or any of the numerous stretches, smashes or foam rolling exercises we have showing you in classes) into your routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes pain, don’t do it! Key to all of this…..you must incorporate some type of additional body work to help prevent any issues. Think of it as maintenance!

Come see any member of the coaching staff for additional or different options to help stay ahead of any issues. 

Onward & Upward: ‘5 Tips to Help You Change with the Season’

As the weather turns colder, many of us tend to let our health and fitness routines take the back burner for a few months. Whether you are feeling rundown or beat up from two CrossFit Open cycles in one year or just trying to escape the holiday season without eating too much pie. It is important to recognize what the change in season can mean for you in your training and health.

The winter months bring about changes in our training routines, daily habits, and nutrition. Rather than take a hit and accepting that this is a time to let yourself slide (because you’ll make it up and get back on track in January) what if this year you made a plan to do things differently.


“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” – Martin Luther King


Here are 5 Tips to Help You Change with the Season!

    1. Eat more vegetables and healthy fats.
    2. Go for a walk during the daytime.
    3. Break a sweat every day (At C2 of course!)
    4. Stay Hydrated
    5. Structure your day for success.

Eat more vegetables and healthy fats.
During the summer months, there seems to be an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables around. In the winter we tend to shift towards more comfort foods, foods that are preserved or packaged and are easy to prepare. Focusing on incorporating more vegetables in your diet will help you get the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and micronutrients that you need. Omega-3s found in fish oil can help with skin health, heart health, and has been shown to support


Go for a walk during the daytime.
Getting outside for a walk during daylight hours can be extremely beneficial for your body and mind. Even if we can’t get Vitamin D from the sun during the winter months we can still benefit from its exposure. Walking can help improve metabolism, boost mood, and be a much better pick me up for your energy than coffee. Doing it in sunlight is proven to be one of the best ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that gets people run down in the winter months.


Break a sweat every day.
Prioritizing fitness may actually be more important in the winter than the summer. We naturally find ourselves more active during the summer months, enjoying the weather at the beach or on a hike or a bike ride. In the winter we tend to hole up indoors. Those hours of walking are replaced with hours of Netflix bingeing and lo and behold we start to get soft and complacent.


Stay Hydrated.
In the winter months, you may never feel the need to quench your thirst as you do on a hot summer day. Most folks tend to stay on the dehydrated side. Sweat also evaporates in the cold dry air, so many people are less likely to replenish fluids after exercise. Be sure to set daily hydration goals for yourself. Setting alarms on your phone to get up and grab a drink of water is a great way to accomplish this.


Structure your day for success.
One of the best ways to take charge of your health during the winter months (and al year round!) is to plan out your day. Set yourself up for success by incorporating healthy habits and avoiding the detractors is key. Reserve your classes early, food prep for the week, pick our your clothes the night before…set yourself up for success each and every day!


“A good routine is a platform that which stimulative and fulfilling work is possible” – Ryan Holiday


Happy Holidays C2 Family!