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Your goals in stretching

There’s a common belief that lifting makes you “tight”. This belief is at best dubious, at worst plain wrong and the opposite of what’s actually true. While lifting will commonly cause stiffness from overexerted muscle or delayed onset muscular soreness, it can also actually help increase your flexibility. Practicing stiff leg deadlifts will increase your toe touch quickly, throwing yourself under the bar in a snatch will improve your squat depth and upper back mobility. It’s comparable to stretching under load, or ‘loaded stretching’ as it’s typically called. Loaded stretching is worthwhile doing but it will not be necessary for the stretches we’re about to do.

This book was written for lifters, primarily powerlifters, and their needs are therefore reflected in the material. A powerlifter, or most other lifters for that matter, don’t need to be able to do full splits or crawl into small boxes. They need to ‘move well enough’ in a way that ensures they can do full range of motion lifts (according to their sport) and be able to do so in a way which will not cause injuries or other discomforts. It turns out that the minimum basic stretches for powerlifters are ‘good enough’ for many gym rats.

Sometimes issues arise from overly exerted muscle. A classic case would be an angry piriformis. Stretching can in such cases help but should by no means be considered the be all end all for these issues. Therefore, this manual is not intended to be used as a guide to ‘fix issues’. If you’re having severe problems you should be diagnosed properly instead of following a minimal stretching guide.

So the expectations are not that you’ll be able to self-heal injuries, kick like ‘Superfoot’ Bill Wallace, do the Van Dam lift, or put both feet behind your head. We’re looking for the minimum and it will in most cases be ‘good enough’.