How to Stretch and Strengthen at the Same Time.
A mobility concept that I learned a few years ago, through a system called Functional Range Conditioning is one known as PAILs and RAILs. PAILs and RAILs are a way to open up a range of motion in a safe and effective way but with the intent of improving the tissue quality in the area you are focusing on whilst also teaching you to control large amounts of force through those ranges too. It can be thought of as end range strength training and is a great way to improve your athletic performance and also to move you in a direction whereby you can wake up in the morning with what we call cold mobility. In other words, if you stay consistent, you basically don’t need to warm up to loosen up anymore because, with time, your body will adapt and allow you to access those ranges even when you first get out of bed. Here’s how to do it:
1. Pick a stretch you like and stay there for two minutes
Relax, breathe slow and you will find that over the space of two minutes you will sit deeper and deeper into the stretch. Two minutes is a minimum if you want to get long lasting change and is also the amount of time needed for the cells which produce human tissue to line up along that line of tension in preparation for step 2.
2. Slowly start to contract the tissue that is under stretch against an immovable object
This is PAILs (progressive angular isometric loading). Start slow, using only 10% of your maximal effort gradually over the space of 5-10 seconds to reach a level of contraction of around 60-80% of your maximal effort and hold for 15 seconds. What you are doing here is teaching that stretched tissue to create and absorb force but also helping it to create that long lasting change in muscle tone, required for improvements in range of motion.
3. Contract the opposite side of the joint and actively pull yourself deeper into the stretch
Increasing your range of motion, without teaching yourself how to control this range of motion is useless and this second part, RAILs (regressive angular isometric loading) is how you do that. This time we are taking the tissue that is in a shortened position, a position that is really difficult to contract, and asking you to use it to increase the feeling of stretch. Once again you want to squeeze really hard and hold this position, without shifting any other areas of your body for about 15 seconds.
Through this process, we have essentially stretched for a long enough time to produce a long lasting change and then put high levels of force into all areas surrounding that part of your body so that not only will you get the benefits of stretching but you will also have improved the quality of tissue and the quality of movement surrounding area too. This can be a difficult concept for some to grasp and so I encourage you to join in on our morning Insta live workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9am.