Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ummm, You're Overhead Break is On?

Before we start this discussion about your triceps, let's lay a few more ground rules about how to think about increasing flexibility and mobility.

First, try to stop thinking about stretching specific muscles.
We are mobilizing restricted ranges. Don't get all caught up in exactly what you are moving and stretching, think rather, in terms of movements. For example, your quads may only really be tight in full hip extension and leg flexion. So stretch in this position of emphasis. Also, you are mobilizing a whole world of connective tissues besides the muscle (so don't be all muscle stuck up).

Got it?

Well let's look at your overhead for a minute. There are a ton of potential overhead pits of despair and this time, we are just going to look at a single performance vampire--your triceps.

Honestly, how many times have you given these bad boys any attention in the last year?
Hmmm? How many pushing combinations have you performed in the last month alone? Yeah, a bloody ton. When did we stop thinking about the triceps when we were talking about shoulder flexibility? Specifically, the long head of the Triceps. The long head crosses two joints (elbow and shoulder) unlike the other two heads. So just stretching this beast at the elbow is going to miss some of the action. The long head is a little like a hamstring in that way (Biceps gets all the attention, which is total bullshite).
The long head attaches to the scapula under the "socket" of the joint. Pretty low down in fact.

Ever had your tri's hurt after a ton of pull ups? Yeah. That's the one resisting full arm extension and helping with a little humeral flexion.
So, to stretch this bastard, you've got to go beyond thinking about the elbow.

To start:
Wind up your arm on a wall as in the photo above. Don't press your armpit to the wall.
Instead thinking of contacting the wall with the distal part of your elbow and sort of lean away from the wall while driving force through that contact point. This is the part of the stretch where we are attempting to wind up the tricep as it inserts on the scapula above the arm pit. Imagine creating space between the bottom of your arm and your scapula. Got it?

All right. Now take your other hand and over-press your triceps by pushing on your wrist as in the photo below.

The body's tissues will put a greater stretch emphasis on the tissues that are loaded first. This is why stretching your hammies with your leg straight makes you feel it behind the knee. We are trying bias the proximal attachment of that long-head of the tri. So wind it up first.

Get after it. Remember to practice your contract relax here or at least stay in the fight for at least 90 seconds.

Not bad right? Post experience to comments.



Hollis said...

Good timing on this one K-Star. I've been push-up challenged for the last week after a ton of push jerks on Monday. My triceps need some love.

Anonymous said...

That last comment was actually Heather, not Hollis - guess his name was saved in here.

Anonymous said...

This blog speaks directly to me considering that I had fat left tricep rhabdo last june for almost a week follwing four days of WODs with high rep pressing movement and a friday morning WOD with 150 pushups as icing on the tricep. It was not pleasant and my tricep had to be slowly stretched for many days in order to get it back to 100%. On the flip side, my left arm was busting out of the sleeves of t-shirts which made me look like I was lifting only one arm at the gym like a science experiment.


Craig Massey said...

Brilliant Kelly.
Thank-you very much

Laurent said...

Always a great read. Thanks for this blog.

Where were you guys for our (Crossfit Oakland) team challenge? No CFSF peeps like to throw down?

FilthyBrit said...

I am ashamed no one was in OAK! We need to redeem ourselves, people. Let's get on it!


Anonymous said...

Does this mean that straight-legged hamstring stretches are better/worse than their bent-leg counterparts? Does the bent-leg fix loss of lumbar curve any better?

Unknown said...

Thanks Kelly, your posts / articles / videos on mobility and stretching have been invaluable :)

- Pete

CrossFitting from Melbourne, Australia

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