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Health & Medical UnderGround >> The Knee - does stretching put your joints at risk


4/22/09 5:20 PM
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kylethegreen
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Since beginning jiu jitsu I have begun to stretch often with the goal of increasing my flexibility and lower my chance of injury. As I am a fan of rubber guard knee flexibility is helpful.
Just today I was told that knee stretches can actually put you at greater risk of knee injury and I would be better served to do knee strengthening exercises without stretching.
Should I heed this advice or is this nonsense?
Any advice?
4/22/09 5:22 PM
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kylethegreen
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To clarify a bit, the idea is that stretching could actually loosen your joints/ligaments/whatever is holding the knee together...
4/22/09 5:44 PM
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WidespreadPanic
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Yes, there's some evidence that stretching the knee as you might do with the rubber guard (i.e. trying to pull your bent legged foot towards your chin) could be risky. If you do it carefully, don't bounce and warm up and break a sweat first you should be OK. The muscles you're stretching are the hip abductors, not the knee itself. So if you 'feel' pressure on the outside (or inside) of your knee you're doing it wrong.
4/23/09 8:02 AM
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androushka
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You want the hip-joint to increase it's range of motion for those angles. The femur should rotate to let you bring your foot close to your face. Make sure you open up the hip, instead of screwing your knee apart, the knee is only meant to bend in one direction.
5/16/09 12:44 PM
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warriors project
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Great point. You have to first understand what it is you want to stretch and than work on it.
Also be careful not to over stretch as the tendons and ligaments are not supposed to be stretched (tendons not at all and ligaments only 6%)
6/7/09 2:07 AM
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JasonE
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androushka is correct.

Do NOT attempt to stretch/loosen the " joints/ligaments/whatever is holding the knee together..." That approach guarantees more serious problems later on, like the muscles I ripped up years ago when attempting to do the same. It took me over 10 years to recover what I lost in less than 10 seconds.

You aren't just pulling taffy - we're talking about a complex arrangement of interrelated tissues that are regulated by your nervous system. If you want to increase your functional flexibility, you need to work with your tissues so they learn to function more efficiently and permit you to move with greater ROM when needed.

The goal of stretching is to relax and lengthen the tissues that are restricting your range of motion. This means you want to engage your nervous system in whatever methods your use. If you can flex your knee enough to pretty much kick your heel to your butt, you don't have a knee flexibility problem. Therefore you need to focus on your hip musculature.

There is a lot of debate about the best way to improve hip flexibility. Some advocate various stretching methods, others prefer mobility drills, yoga, etc. From what I've seen, there are many effective ways to achieve your goal. Whichever approach(es) you use, consistency and frequency of training will be key to success.

Before you start all kinds of crazy stretches, I highly recommend working with someone that has specialized training in stretching methods, preferably also with some years of experience and an in-depth knowledge of anatomy. This person should be able to teach you how to stretch effectively with good form and make adjustments to your flexibility regimen as you make progress.

My personal preference is a combination of Active Isolated Stretching (www.stretchingusa.com), with Circular Strength Training mobility drills and Prasara yoga (www.rmaxinternational.com). I have found this to be both safe and effective for overcoming a wide range of flexibility and mobility challenges.

Happy training!

Jason Erickson
www.CSTMinnesota.com
6/10/09 5:17 PM
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kylethegreen
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Thanks for the advice. I was operating on a number of incorrect ideas.
I am going to look into the two sites Jason recommended.
(I always trust people who live in Minnesota).

kyle

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