Miracle Static Stretches for a Higher Vertical Leap. Part 1.

Static stretching has received a bad name recently due to at least one study on power output and the resulting explosion of marketers claiming this little “secret” to be the biggest VERTICALLY JUMP MISTAKE THAT WILL RUIN YOUR VERTICAL!  Static stretches got a bad rap, so this should bring to light some of the benefits of static stretching.

The fact is static stretching has it’s place in training.  If you take a look at the pros (not that they are perfect), you will always notice them doing different static stretches.

What’s The Problem With Static Stretches?

In short, they don’t stretch the muscle the way it is stretched during an athletic movement.  During an athletic movement the muscle stretches and immediately contracts.  For example when you bend to jump the glutes stretch, but then immediately contract, same with the calves, quads, hams, shoulders, and abdominals.

This is particularly useful because there is a stretch reflex that happens automatically, when a muscle stretches an automatic muscle reaction contracts the muscle.  For example when a doctor hits your patellar tendon with his little rubber hammer, the tendon shortens which causes a slight stretch of the quad, and the quad contracts automatically.

It was once thought this stretch reflex was responsible for adding great amounts of power to a movement.  There are now various thoughts about it’s actual value in a given movement, however this provides some insight into why static stretching CAN lower power…. I say CAN because it depends on how you do them.

If you stretch and hold the calf muscle for long periods of time you are ‘retraining’ the stretch reflex.  You are telling the muscle to stretch but not to automatically contract afterwards.  It appears that this “retraining” is also temporary and only happens immediately following the stretch.  This is likely because you retrain it with every other movement you do!  In fact this effect can be eliminated by coupling your static stretching with sports specific stretches and movements.

So… What’s wrong with static stretches?

Well, if you focus on static stretching and DON’T couple it with sport specific movement you may find a very temporary, if not unnoticeable reduction in your temporary ability for that particular muscle group, as a result of a reduced stretch reflex. Kadour Ziani a renowned dunker and impressive leaper is one of the most flexible individuals you will meet.

When is a static stretch most useful?

If you read and understood the above synopsis then the following will make sense.

1. When the prime mover contracts you want the antagonist to relax.

This means that if the calf is contracting, you don’t want the shin (anterior tibialis) to contract also, it will end up resisting your calves.  Same with other prime movers.

2. Static stretching can help antagonist muscle to relax and be passively stretched.

The greater activation of the antagonist the greater resistance you will have of the prime mover.  The last thing you want to do is work against yourself.  This will not only slow you down, but it will eventually cause muscle or tendon deterioration and injury.

So without further mumbo jumpbo… (mumbo jumpbo?)

My Favorite Static Stretches for Prime Mover Antagonists for The Vertical Jump

Hip flexor, lat, and abdominal all in one bridge stretch.

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Hip flexors oppose the glutes and hamstrings during hip hip extension.  Flexible and passive hip flexors will allow your hip extension to be much more powerful.  If you are stiff or tense around the groin you may have tight hip flexors.  Many do as they are shortened all day long while we sit.

This stretch is fantastic, because not only does it stretch the psoas (hip flexors) it also stretches the lats (opposing the shoulders), and abdominals.  In fact if you look at a good dunker their body will be in a similar position.

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Take a look at dunker Tyler Ray:

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If you find this difficult, then your explosive shoulder ante flexion, hip extension, and spinal extension are probably dampered from stiff antagonist muscles (hip flexors, abdominals, and lats).  The easier this is, the easier and more fluid your jumping motion follow through will be.

SOME POINTERS
  • Squeeze your glutes feeling the stretch in your hip flexors (inner groin and lower abs area).
  • Pull your head back feeling the stretch in the abdominals.
  • Extend your arms feeling the stretch in your lats.
  • Hold the position for 10 – 20 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 or more times as needed.
  • This can be done anytime, just make sure your body is warmed first.

If you want some direction on the verbage I am using please check out my article here: Muscle and movements involved in the vertical jump.

I didn’t expect this article to get so long (typical), so I am breaking this into a few different parts.  Give me some feedback below if you really want this soon, if not I’ll get around to it soon enough!  Right now I am getting tons of requests for part 2 of my The best way to lose weight (Part 1) article.  Sorry!  Hope you enjoy this one though!

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Article by Jacob Hiller

Jacob Hiller's best selling book "The Jump Manual" has been used and taught in over 30 countries and in 4 different languages and featured on ESPN and Fadeaway. Coach Hiller has worked with professional and Olympic level athletes and is currently touring the globe.

Jacob has written 268 awesome articles for us.

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