As coaches we spend a lot of time learning about our next torture configuration we are going to put you in. I’m talking about stretching and our mobility work. We watch Kelly Starrett videos and tell you to do the same, and as the inflexible and immobile of us attempt to contort our bodies into these positions we cringe, screech and hold our breath and say, “It hurts so good!”
The purpose of spending time mobilizing and stretching is to train our muscles to not be stiff and to allow us to comfortably reach the positions we are meant to spend time in but have spent years in the wrong positions that shortens muscles and makes movement hard.
Something I catch myself doing this and see so many of you do it as well is. As we get into that end range of the stretch, the point that “it hurts so good!”, we either hold our breath or start doing some kind of lamas breathing like we are getting ready to birth a child. This is very counter-productive to what we are trying to accomplish with our stretching. As you start taking those short little breaths your body is tensing up and fighting the stretch. Next time you are stretching at home or at the gym focus on long deep breaths. This will help your relax through the stretch and help the time you are spending doing it be more affective.
Now I do want to say there are times that we will instruct you to take a deep breath and hold it and follow by letting it out. This is different than holding it and continuing with short breaths. By holding it in with tension on the area you are working on and then releasing, you are allowing yourself to sink deeper into the stretch.
All this being said, spend some time while you are stretching focusing on your breathing no matter how good it hurts.