Warning: Jarlo and Andy go on a long, rambling, rant-filled discussion about the attitudes that keep people from being successful in their training. You probably won’t like it. Unless you’re the sort of person who will 😉
Here’s some of what’s covered:
- mental traps that prevent us from taking good advice
- learning from principles and concepts rather than relying on mimicry
- yes, stretching totally works, unless…
- you’re doing it wrong (here’s what to do about it)
- or, you may just need to give it more time
We know that stretching is a boring, uncomfortable, and difficult activity for anybody who actually needs it. But the benefits of easy range of motion make it worth the effort. If that effort hasn’t paid off for you so far, you need to listen to this and try again.
Transcript of Stretching for Stiff People
Andy: All right, all right, all right. Welcome to the Golden Matchbook Podcast. I’m Andy, and today, Mr. Jarlo Ilano is here.
Andy: That means we’re going to talk about stretching because it’s pretty much the only thing he knows about.
Jarlo: It seems so after 30 dozen articles and hours and hours of video, this is all [crosstalk 00:00:29].
Andy: Well, I think that this is really interesting though because like you said, how many hours of YouTube
video, how many thousands of words of articles? Nine plus hours of tutorial in Focused Flexibility?
Jarlo: Mm-hmm (affirmative), not including the routines, the follow-alongs.
Andy: Right. Over the past 10 years about, we have really just exhaustively put out a lot of information on stretching, and getting flexible, and what to do, and why, and all that stuff. It’s something that despite that, and despite lots of other people putting out a ton of information, it’s misunderstood or not understood, and people still have questions, right?
Jarlo: Right, and I think it’s because it’s the difficulty of it. I think you said before, if you’re even thinking about stretching, that means you’re not flexible.
Jarlo: Right? I mean, it’s just sort of a this becomes that thing. Well, it’s sort of that whole bell curve thing. Let’s talk about it with a different aspect of fitness, like let’s say being strong. When you start out and you’re not strong at all, maybe you haven’t done anything like strength work. Either you like running a lot, or you did different sports or activities, or you did nothing at all, and then you decided, well, I should get stronger. I need to build muscle, get my bones stronger, all that stuff. And you start, and you’re weak. You are objectively weak as shit, right?
Jarlo: Because the bar is too heavy for you, or that dumbbell is too heavy for you, and so you don’t like it. You don’t like it.
Andy: It’s not fun. It’s not fun proving to yourself that you’re weak.
Jarlo: Yeah. Why would you like that?
Jarlo: It’s the same thing with stretching. You start out, right? You’re like, “Man, okay. I’m going to do this. I’m going to follow this YouTube video,” and then this person who could be really good is talking to you, doing the thing, showing you, “Oh, you can adjust it like this.” You’re like, “Well, I can’t even do that all.”
Jarlo: Right. It’s the same thing. In the strength thing, you’re weak as shit, and the flexibility thing, you’re tight as shit, and it’s not fun.
Jarlo: Not fun at all, and you’re banging your head against the well. It’s very reasonable to go, “Well, man. I don’t like this at all. Why should I do it?”
Andy: Right. I think that’s really the situation where a lot of people that need stretching most, because they need it, their experiences with it, especially early on, are not pleasurable.
Andy: And are not usually very effective because actually, what most people think of as stretching is usually not very effective. There’s the kind of just sit down and stick out your legs, and try to touch your toes, and keep reaching. But that’s not a good way to stretch. So we’ve got this thing where what people think is their natural inclination to try to do is actually not good, so a lot of people stop there, but then even if they do go and look for better information and try that, it’s still frustrating. It’s still difficult, and even if you do everything right, it still takes time.
Jarlo: Right, and that’s the main thing, too. It doesn’t take weeks. For some people, it doesn’t even take months. It takes years. Right? For some reason, it’s not even for some reason, in general, human beings are inpatient. Right? It takes-
Andy: I’ve never noticed this.
Jarlo: It takes coursework, it takes therapy, psychological therapy, to remove the impatience. Right? When you have something like fitness, whether it’s getting stronger, or losing fat, or being more flexible, or any of these things, we bring that inherent impatience with us.
Jarlo: Right? It’s important because all of this stuff has nuance. Sitting down on your butt and reaching forward as much as you can and straining isn’t a good stretch when you’re first learning. But for me right now, I actually do it and get something out of it.
Jarlo: Right? Or if you were some kind of other performing artist athlete, because everyone’s like, “Oh, static stretching is terrible. No one should hold static stretches. You should move and be dynamic.” Right? Then you look at what actual professional performing artists do, and they’re just kind of hanging out, stretching. You’re like, “Wait a minute.”
Andy: This is a point that we’ve made so many times before. If you look on the internet, a lot of the lay experts, a lot of the people that are trying to present themselves as authorities will say, “Static stretching doesn’t work. You should never do any static or passive stretches at all. They’re just completely ineffective.” But then you look at people who are actually flexible, and you’ll see that there are some people that are genetically or otherwise just predisposed to flexibility.
Andy: Those people, there’s some very lucky people, and there are some people that that goes too far and they have hypermobility or whatever too.
Andy: But outside of that small, very small, percentage of people, the overwhelming majority of people who are flexible have spent a ton of time doing static stretching-
Jarlo: Just hanging out.
Andy: … passive statics, active statics, but just hanging out in those positions.
Jarlo: Hanging out, yeah. A lot of that, and then there’s nuance to all of this. It’s not saying, “We’re suggesting that everyone does that.”
Jarlo: Right? So that what we were talking about earlier. You say one thing, and then it’s totally construed as something fully different. No, so what’s happening is you have to look at what is it being used for, and who is the person that’s doing it. Right?
Jarlo: So static stretching, for me, I’ll just use myself as an example. I’ve been doing this since I was 12 or whatever. For me, it’s a time to relax. I actually can get in those positions and relax into the stretch. Didn’t Pavel write a book saying that, relax into the stretch?
Andy: Right, yeah.
Jarlo: I can do that and it’s good for me. If you as a beginner or someone else that’s not used to stretching were to do that, then it’s totally wrong.
Jarlo: That’s the truth, right? But does that mean it’s totally wrong for everyone else, or even with you, would it be totally wrong if over time, you were able to do it?
Andy: Would it be wrong to get into a position that you can get into and hang out there?
Jarlo: Right. No, that’s exactly what we’re trying to see. So with all the stuff, you look at our material, and we do advocate moving in and out of the stretch gradually, right? A lot of that is because, and I’ve said this before, you want to convince your body, kind of step out of our body and look at it. That’s wrong, right, treating our body as an object to look at outside of ourselves. But anyway, we’re trying to convince our body that it’s okay to be in those positions.
Jarlo: That means automatically, if you are in a position and it doesn’t feel okay, you’re doing it wrong.
Jarlo: But if you’re in a position that feels okay and somewhat approximates the person on the YouTube video, and that’s another really important thing. It doesn’t have to be exactly like what the person looks like on the video, or us in our pictures, or us in our programs. You have to approximate the space of this person to feel like that. Then, you’re correct. So this is pretty rambling, and so I could totally see how confusing this is to someone just looking at it, which is why we’ve written like two dozen articles, hours and hours of video, how many podcasts.
Jarlo: Yet another podcast on stretching and flexibility.
Andy: Right. There’s a lot of things here. Like you said, we could ramble on this for a long time and fill up a lot of time, but let’s talk a little bit about that last point you made. People see the video, or the picture, or whatever, they see us doing a thing, and there’s two things that can happen.
Andy: Well, there’s a lot of things that could happen, but there’s two mistakes that come up with that is one, you compare yourself to us and say, “Well, they’re not exactly like me, so this won’t work,” right? The other is you say, “I’m going to try it,” but then you still try from where you are to do the thing exactly the way somebody who’s much further along can.
Andy: Either one of those is going to be a mistake.
Jarlo: And it’s a really natural mistake because you’re trying to learn something, right?
Andy: That you don’t know.
Jarlo: Yeah, and you’re trying to learn something you don’t know what you’re supposed to do. Also, isn’t the natural thing when you’re trying to learn something from somebody who’s teaching to emulate them?
Jarlo: It makes sense, and you should. But instead of trying to emulate them or emulate what you think they want you to do, you have to emulate the concepts and the principles that that person is trying to show you if they’re good. If the teacher’s really good, that’s what they’re trying to teach you. They’re not trying to teach you to be a carbon copy and fully imitate and mimic what they’re doing. That’s wrong.
Jarlo: I think that’s something that across the board, when you look at good teachers in any discipline, in music, physical activity, math, any of that stuff, the highest level teachers go beyond the rote stuff. They’re not going to hit your hand with a ruler if you don’t trace this letter exactly like you showed them in that book. You know?
Jarlo: Apologies to the Catholic nuns that are in the audience.
Andy: Right. Like you said, principles and concepts. We made a video a few years ago that now has almost a million views, and it’s kind of embarrassing because when we made this video, we thought we were going to be helpful and answer a question. It turns out that we did not look at it from the perspective of the people who needed it.
Andy: We made a video trying to explain some principles and concepts of how to stretch if you are very stiff. What that means is if you can’t get into the base positions of a lot of stretches, like for example, if you cannot sit down on the ground and stretch your feet in front of you with your back straight and your knees straight. A lot of people can’t do that, but that’s the quote unquote beginning position of a forward fold stretch, right?
Andy: So if you can’t do that, we made this video to try to explain some concepts. Right?
Andy: Bend your knees if you need to, keep the back straight and bend only to the point that you can, and you reach behind you and push against the floor or an object or something if you need to.
Andy: Right? We made these suggestions, but what happened is people responded to what they saw in the first 10 seconds of the video, and none of the things, zero of the things that were actually said throughout the video. The reason is because we had a person who, from our perspective, was pretty stiff, but compared to a lot of people, was not as stiff as them that was demonstrating the exercises. So even though the information, the concepts and principles that we tried to express, were exactly what has worked for many, many people, people saw a person that was not as stiff as them, and immediately said… I mean, if you go to that video, you can see there’s just hundreds of comments of people saying, “That person’s not stiff.”
Jarlo: Right, “I am stiff.”
Andy: Therefore, everything in this video is bullshit.
Jarlo: Right, “I am stiff. I had surgery. I’m 155 years old.” Right? These kind of… And I am actually making fun of these people because some of the comments were ridiculous.
Andy: Some of them were absolutely ridiculous.
Jarlo: Some of them were absolutely ridiculous. Some of them were very reasonable. Also, it’s a problem of the medium too because let’s just look at what we just said. Look at the nuances of okay, I can’t sit down with my back even straight at all. That means we have to show a video of someone fully bent over in that kyphotic posture.
Jarlo: Right, can’t even sit up, and really, they shouldn’t be doing that.
Jarlo: They shouldn’t be doing it at all, so does that mean we need to make another video of that particular thing? You’re talking about variations-
Andy: Well, because the people that are over 6’3″ will complain about any video with a person under 6′.
Jarlo: Right, right.
Andy: Anybody over 225 pounds or so will complain about a video of somebody under 180.
Jarlo: Right. Now, we’re looking at all of these things.
Andy: Anybody who’s female will complain about a video of a male. This is not true. I’m not saying this is all people who are… But we will get these complaints. “It would be nice to see somebody tall doing this,” or, “You never show any women.” We do show women. We have many women that we feature in our videos all the time, but if a woman is not in this particular video, we get the, “You never show women,” comment.
Jarlo: Right, or every single video.
Jarlo: Or every single second of every video. This is what we were talking about with trying to help people and trying to please people. This is something I wrote in one of our personal blogs when I turned 45 earlier this year, right? We got into this trying to help people, it was about 10, 12 years ago, even before GMB started, putting ourselves out there. We were like, “Yeah. I’m just going to share a little bit of what I’m doing and what’s helped me clients and patients. I think it’ll be great. It’ll be good.” This was back in the time where the information wasn’t that great.
Jarlo: Right? And we were like, “We have some stuff to share.” People were encouraging us, and were we doing stuff. Then, I think you were saying a few years ago this overall discourse of, I don’t know if it’s entitlement, or just general lack of civility. You know?
Jarlo: Giving a person at least some benefit of the doubt.
Jarlo: Right? “What are you trying to sell me?” I was like, “Well, nothing in this video. I see no products here to sell.”
Jarlo: I don’t know. I mean, this is another tangent. But it fits into it. What are your expectations when you’re searching for a how to get more flexible or how to get stronger? Because there’s some reason these people are watching the video.
Andy: Right. Do you want to learn stretching from somebody who is not flexible?
Jarlo: That’s another thing too. We’ve also had that, where we’ve tried to show this kind of thing, and we’re like, “Okay, I’ll use this person.” He was like [inaudible 00:16:54]. What’s one of the first comments that comes up? “Well, that guy can’t even do it.”
Jarlo: “Why should I learn from him?”
Jarlo: Dude, what are we supposed to do with that?
Andy: Right. I mean, yeah, we could quickly get into a thing where we’re basically just saying everybody who
watches all of our stuff is a bunch of idiots, which of course, that’s not true.
Andy: We don’t think that, but the problem is that… All right, so you and Ryan and I, Ryan, Jarlo and I, all three of us, we’re what, 5’6″ to 5’8″, we’re 10% to 15% body fat. We’re fairly strong, fairly flexible, and we’ve been practicing physical disciplines for 20 to 40 years.
Jarlo: Right, two-thirds of our lives, at least.
Andy: All of us, 30-plus years, right?
Andy: Okay, so we are not normal.
Andy: We’re not normal.
Andy: And we get this. We get this extremely well, but here’s the thing, is that we’ve also worked with many, many thousands of people, and all of the things that we teach are proven to work with many kinds of people. For example, I can’t stretch because I’m not flexible, and I’m old, and I’m not into fitness like you guys, so this is impossible for me. Well, let us introduce you to Charlie. Charlie started Focused Flexibility when he was 63. He was a cabinet maker, isn’t he, wasn’t he?
Jarlo: Right, yeah.
Andy: Stiff as all hell, a little overweight, not grossly but a little overweight, and had not been working out consistently for decades, not a lifelong athlete, just a guy. He started doing Elements, and he wanted to get more flexible, and he started doing FF. Over a few months, not immediately, over a few months of very consistent, concerted effort, Charlie got to a pretty passible front split.
Andy: Not all the way down.
Andy: But it was extremely impressive.
Jarlo: Very impressive.
Andy: The thing that makes it work isn’t that Charlie is a freak or that he’s genetically gifted or lucky. The thing that makes it work is that he did the right things right consistently for a long time.
Jarlo: Right. Also with that particular program, it was pretty information-dense.
Jarlo: But I think what he did was he listened to what we had to say, and he did it, and he put the time in, and he decided, okay, well, I’m just going to trust these guys for a little bit and work on it. That’s another thing to say is, “Oh, just do the program. Don’t have any questions. Just do it, do it, do it.” Right? Of course that’s wrong, but you look at it, and you kind of take what we’re saying at face value, and if you have questions, we have the support and do all these things, but there was obviously something in it that he was like, “All right. Let’s do it. Let’s take a chance.” Right? “Let’s give it a little bit of benefit of the doubt, and let’s see where it takes it from here.” I think what you said there is especially important, is that it took months. It took months. It takes a long time to improve your body.
Jarlo: And stretching in particular because what you’re doing is you’re making structural changes to your body. There’s a couple ways, this is not… When you first start out stretching, and you do it well, and you convince your body it’s okay, you actually do improve several degrees markedly within, say, 10, 15 minutes. Right? Your stretching intolerance improves when you do that. But that’s actually a trick. It’s a neurological trick.
Andy: Yeah. This is just neurological tricks, right?
Jarlo: A neurological trick.
Andy: The neat thing that happens is as you repeat that trick a few days in a row, you can actually, within a pretty short amount of time, within a month even, you can get to where you can repeat that trick quickly.
Jarlo: Right, and that’s another thing too.
Andy: So you’re repeating that trick, but still, that trick does result in greater range of motion.
Jarlo: Right, and then over time when you’re doing that, the structural changes happen over months. I think there’s studies that say it does take four, six, nine months, but it’s not saying you won’t see any changes before that time. What you’re saying that, and this is what you alluded to before with some people are more flexible than others, some people are a lot less flexible than others. It’s this neurological stretch reflex gain that some people… If you think about as a knob, and some people are turned all the way damn up, your muscles don’t want to go anywhere. They just don’t right?
Jarlo: Those are the ones probably making these comments, and it’s harder. We’re not making fun of that because we know it happens. Again, like you said, thousands of clients, in my case patients, where I’ve seen that.
Andy: Yeah, and not just ours. I know Kit Laughlin has many thousands of clients all over the world who have gotten flexible. Our friend Emma Lewis teaches people how to touch their head to their toe very successfully and frequently, right?
Andy: Lots of people can get these results. This is not something that we made up or own.
Jarlo: That’s another thing too, is look at results across the board around the world, different levels of teachers doing different things. Even if just in general you say yoga, everybody knows what yoga is.
Andy: As a very general, vanilla, broad blanket kind of thing.
Jarlo: Right. What’s been happening over the last 50, 60 years with that? Right? I say that because it’s really not thousands of years old. Sorry.
Jarlo: Right? Sitting cross-legged is thousands of years old.
Jarlo: Doing a particular posture with your head wrapped around your ankle is not thousands of years old. Anyway, those are objective, real results, and they’re not abnormal people that are just like, “They were just flexible anyway.”
Jarlo: That’s not true. How could it be true? It can’t. It just can’t. The math isn’t there.
Andy: Yeah. That’s the thing is that it’s really easy to dismiss things when, like we said at the beginning, if you’re needed to stretch, you probably aren’t flexible.
Andy: So yeah, it’s very easy to dismiss people that have a different experience of that from you. Right?
Andy: But the thing is that you can’t dismiss that there are people that have been where you are, and have improved over time, and got results from it. So then the real question is what should you do? Right?
Andy: I think one of the main things you should do is if you are very stiff, because we can’t really teach you to stretch in a podcast, but we do have a very excellent article and accompanying video on our website that we’ll link to in the notes for this show on how to adjust stretches to make them easier for you if you are very stiff. Right?
Andy: That’s one thing that you should definitely do. Check that out, do what it says, and don’t get discouraged because it’s difficult. It can seem like we’re making fun, but we’re not really making fun of people that… We’re definitely not making fun of people that try to do this. We’re not making fun of people who are stiff. We do make fun of the attitude that I’m not exactly like the person on the video, therefore it’s bullshit.
Jarlo: Right, that knee jerk reaction is what we’re making fun of because if you are actually sincere and genuine, and by default I’m going to say that most people are, like when you go into Google and you type in, “How can I do this?” Or, “How can I do this? How can I improve my flexibility?” You are doing that for a reason, and you want to improve yourself. The first thing along with that is changing where your mindset is. We always talk about the fixed mindset versus growth mindset [crosstalk 00:25:32], right, to the point now that it’s part of the vernacular. Right? I remember when it first came out, I was like, “Oh, sheesh.”
Jarlo: Anyway, that’s true. Again, going back to expectations, if you go into a thing just ready to debunk it, oh, I’m ready to prove them wrong, stretching doesn’t work, I’m going to prove you wrong. Well, what do you think is going to happen, dude? That you’re going to magically, “Oh my God, I was wrong.”
Andy: I surprised myself.
Jarlo: Right. That’s the first thing is that you have to go back and check your own premises, clean slate, wipe the table, all that. What is that? Unfill your coffee cup, all that stuff. What is that? Oh, yeah, empty your cup.
Andy: Empty your cup.
Jarlo: But it’s true though, and listen critically to what we’re trying to say or any other teacher is trying to say. It’s hard because then you look at someone, you know, never trust a skinny chef type of thing.
Andy: Or a bald barber, or whichever trope you want to pull out.
Jarlo: Yeah, any of these things, but it’s true though. It’s actually that you are fighting human nature, right? If you are radically overweight, something brought you there. It’s frustrating. It’s very hard, and then are you going to take the advice of someone who’s skinny? Because automatically, your head’s going to be like, “Well, fuck this dude. He has no idea of where I’m coming from.” Well, maybe he does or maybe he doesn’t, right, but who has he worked with or who has she worked with? What are the things this person is saying? Are they trying to sell you a diet tea and supplements, or are they actually trying to help you?
Andy: Right, are they talking about principles and concepts that make sense, or are they trying to sell you something or giving you some sensational stuff?
Jarlo: Right, and I think that’s the first thing. Then you can go into it with looking and seeing the information for what it is, and be critical about your thinking, and then sense if it’s valuable or not. It’s very easy to decide something right away, right? Oh, that’s really good, or oh, that’s really bad. To me, both of those things are wrong.
Andy: Right. Yeah, and this is the thing. I mean, we do form impressions very quickly, and then we use logic to justify those. It’s true, but I think that’s one of the things that as we mature, and as we grow up and just start being a little more wise about life, we realize that we do need to think back and reevaluate those impressions.
Andy: The first video we did of stretching for stiff people, like I said, the first 10 seconds, people are
like, “Oh, that guy’s not stiff.” And then discount the entire rest of the thing, right? Then we made another video that shows more adjustments for these things, and again, the person wasn’t stiff enough for some people’s taste, but we had many more people that actually were able to watch that video, and learn from it, and see what we were showing, see how to use props like a pillow, or a chair, or something to take some weight off to increase the leverage, decrease the range, these things that we discuss in that article I mentioned. All of these things, and when people approach with an open mind and they may have that first impression that oh, these people, they’ve never been as stiff as me. They don’t know, but I’m going to hear them out and see what they have to say.
Jarlo: That’s right.
Andy: And then I’m going to try this.
Jarlo: That’s right.
Andy: Those people actually come back and tell us, “Hey, that’s really helpful.”
Jarlo: There’s two things there, right? It’s both our presentation of it, because want to have to be responsible for that too.
Jarlo: Right. There’s different [crosstalk 00:29:38].
Andy: We’re learning all the time-
Jarlo: We’re learning all the time.
Andy: … and we’re trying to get better.
Jarlo: Right, and we are, thankfully, improving ourselves and improving how we present information, and doing all the things. Remember that first 401 that we did years ago? I remember the stretching sequence for that. I remember that distinctly because you were like, “Okay, it’s time to do the stretching thing now.” Right?
Jarlo: So I sat down and I did it, and I think I did it in one take. It was like 30 minutes in one take, which is hilarious, right? But if we were to do that now and just have that as our stretching thing, no way. It wouldn’t have helped hardly anybody.
Andy: Nobody would be able to follow it.
Jarlo: Right. Nobody would be able to follow it, but it’s something we thought we could do back then. There’s that, and then there’s your own mindset of going in and trying to learn a thing. Right?
Andy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jarlo: It’s also with us and presenting it in a right way, presenting it in a way that we feel is helpful and also taking feedback and working with it. Right? We actually did another one. We have our hip mobility routine that we did a few years ago that’s had millions of views.
Jarlo: It’s done really well, helped so many people. I love reading some of these comments.
Jarlo: Right? [crosstalk 00:30:58].
Andy: That’s another one where we’ve gotten so many comments that were just… People love that routine, and there’s people that have been doing it consistently for years now.
Andy: Right? And then there’s a few that are just like, “I just can’t do this,” or, “I can’t do that.” There’s one movement in particular, that frog stretch, that just kills people, man.
Jarlo: Right. It’s hard.
Andy: I swear there’s 1,000 comments dedicated to just, “The frog stretch sucks.”
Andy: Or, “It’s really hard,” or, “Man, that hurts.” So this is us learning from that. By the time this episode goes live, actually we’ll have updated our hip mobility article with a new video that addresses some of these things and makes an easier version of this hip mobility routine with some modified versions.
Jarlo: That’s another thing, right, is the presentation and the medium. When we first did it, it was because I just, I remember the first one was I just filmed it right before I was ready to teach a kickboxing class. I was like, “Oh, I’ll share this,” and I shared it on my Instagram, or Facebook, whatever, and then we put it out there on the YouTube. Then all of the sudden, we were like, “Why is this getting tens of thousands of views? What’s going on with this?
Jarlo: So we ported it over, and Ryan shot it and made it better, and then we put instructions around it. That was also our thing where okay, we’re just explaining what this thing is. We don’t teach like that, though. I wouldn’t have had this routine given to my patients, any patient that I had.
Jarlo: Right? From 10 years old to 70, no. That’s not what I would have done.
Jarlo: Right? That’s what I meant about the presentation is a lot of times, I say those eight particular stretches. I show a way to do it for one or two of them, and they’re probably sitting down in a chair, and that’s exactly what we did with this new video. They’re sitting down in a chair or they’re sitting up in bed. I’ve had this range of patients. I haven’t just been treating athletes for 20 years.
Jarlo: No, I’ve literally had eight-year-old to 102 years old. Right? So no, I’m not going to tell them to do the frogger stretch straight on from the ground. That’s wrong.
Andy: This is something also that’s super important is, like you said, you’re not going to give them this routine of eight things. I think this is something that we talk about in GMB a lot, and this is in all of our programs too. People see the collection of movements, and they think that they have to do all the movements. Well, I’ve got to do handstands, I’ve got to be able to do a split, I’ve got to be able to do this, and that, and this, and the other thing.
Andy: We show all these things because these are things people have asked us to show, and they are, in their own context, good and useful. But we’re never saying, “You must do all these things.”
Andy: Right? You pick the one or two things that are going to make the biggest difference for you, and you focus on those.
Jarlo: Right, and I think that’s the change in the pedagogy from you’re working one-to-one with someone, whether it’s a patient in my case, or a personal training client, or your kids, or your friends that just come over and say, “Can you help me with this?” Versus trying to teach literally millions of people how to do something. Right?
Jarlo: That’s why every author of every book is dissatisfied with their book.
Jarlo: Right? Let me know if there’s any in the audience, or any friends, or any author that was fully satisfied, especially education-wise, education things. Maybe even fiction, but especially in things where they’re trying to instruct and teach something because literally everyone I know that has done that, they say by the time their words hit print and they’re on the paper, they almost don’t like it anymore, straight up don’t like it anymore. Not that they’re not proud of it, and not that they say that it won’t be helpful, they’re just like-
Andy: Not that it’s wrong.
Jarlo: Not that it’s wrong. It’s just like oh, I could have done this, or oh, I just learned this.
Jarlo: So we’re never satisfied.
Andy: Right. That’s the thing too is in person, of course we can find the one or two things that are going to be useful to people.
Andy: This is what we’ve tried to do in Focused Flexibility too, is we have the basic assessment positions where you can go and see which positions you are the stiffest in or your range is most limited, and the things that you need to do, and then you can find the one or two stretches to focus on that are going to get you your biggest bang for your buck in that. We can do that in a program like that that someone wants to do an assessment, and take the time, and maybe even ask us questions and do.
Andy: But if we’re making a program for most people for general mobility, we’re going to have to include a few things that might not be optimal for some people, but will still be helpful, right?
Andy: And include stuff that will cover a wide array, right?
Andy: It doesn’t mean that the routine is bad and you should only do half of it. The routine is great. It’s been working for a ton of people, but it also means that if there’s something that you can’t do, maybe it’s all right to not do that.
Jarlo: Right. Taking the analogy of references in books and things like that, it’s sort of like the encyclopedia. It’s got everything that these people within that certain few years, and they published the book, right? They published the series of books. Does anybody have encyclopedias anymore? Right? I think people of a certain age will remember encyclopedias, right?
Jarlo: And that has all the stuff because that’s what it was for. It was supposed to be reference. You’re not going to read from volume 1-A to volume 32-ZZ. You don’t do that. You go, and you’re like, “Okay, kids. This is what you use Google for now. You type in the search bar. What we have to do is look in the contents and look at what we want.” So in particular, Focused Flexibility, our program with that, is sort of meant to be encyclopedic in a way.
Andy: We said there’s nine hours in there, but most people will not watch all of those.
Jarlo: Right, they’ll watch the same 30 minutes or the one that they choose to do, right? That’s the way it’s supposed to be. I have a friend of mine that I do jujitsu with and different things, and he’s been doing FF now I think a year, year and a half, and every week or two, I get this message about, “Oh, now I get it. Now I get it.” That’s the thing because he was like, “I’ll just do the routines, and then I’ll figure it out.” But over time, you figure it out, but we can’t really do that with someone who just wants to move better and try and improve in different ways because there’s more to it than just flexibility.
Jarlo: Right. Elements, for example, is what we’ve created to have the breadth of flexibility, strength, and control. With that, there’s going to be necessarily things like, say, the lawn chair, or another exercise that even if you look at it at the smallest level that we could provide in Elements, it doesn’t fit you.
Jarlo: It doesn’t fit you, so does that mean the whole program doesn’t fit you? No, that’s wrong. That’s the wrong way of thinking.
Andy: Right. Do the things that you can do.
Jarlo: Do the things you can do.
Andy: This is the thing with… We’re ostensibly talking about stretching here, but clearly this goes a lot broader than that too. You have to start where you’re at for everything, right? You have to do the things that you can do. You are not going to get very far if you try to mimic and compare yourself to someone who is clearly not in your position, but you have to just start with where you’re at, and make the adjustments, focus on the things you can do until you can start, over time, being able to do more. Right?
Jarlo: Hopefully, our presentation is good, and it tells you that, and it shows you that. But you have to actually do that for yourself as well.
Jarlo: The two different things, the presentation and the teacher, and your mindset approaching it, right? Both have to be good. They don’t have to be perfect, but both have to meet somewhere.
Andy: Yeah, absolutely.
Jarlo: Right. Taking this back to, since this is ostensibly stretching, let’s recap a little bit. For the first thing, and I like that actually we started with it, about static stretching is bad and you should never do it. We analyzed a little bit about that statement itself, and yes, it can be if your intent is to convince your body that it’s okay to be in a position, and once you force yourself to be in that position because you see this person and you just like, “Oh, that’s the way I got to look like,” that’s already wrong. You have started wrong, and there is no way that that can end up being anything but wrong.
Jarlo: So yes, maybe make that comment of, “Oh, man, I can’t even do that, so that’s wrong. My body doesn’t like it.” There was another comment I think on our IG today like, “That is a terrible exercise, and your body doesn’t like it. I don’t recommend it.” I’m like, “It felt fine to me.”
Jarlo: Right? It felt fine to me, but he was probably right for himself.
Jarlo: But why would he say, “I don’t recommend it for anybody.” That’s wrong. That’s where you get wrong.
Andy: That’s wrong.
Jarlo: That’s wrong. That’s the principle. For our stretching, for our flexibility and our method, and actually most good teachers’ method, they’re never going to force you into it. You look at all these memes and all these things over the last few years, it’s always these Chinese gymnasts doing the stretches where the coach is just slamming down their hips and jumping on them. Yeah, it probably worked for them. It probably worked for the three kids out of the thousand that they picked, right?
Jarlo: That’s wrong.
Andy: Well, that’s the thing is if you’re working with the genetically superior three to five-year-olds, and if you can afford to injure 70% of them irrevocably, right?
Jarlo: Oh, man.
Andy: If you’re allowed to do that by your government, then I mean, I guess that’s a fine method.
Jarlo: But if you look beyond that, and you look at the really successful teachers of lots of different methods, again not just us, they’re not going to recommend that.
Jarlo: So right there, there’s the thing right there. You’re fighting against a really strawy, strawy man right there, full of straw, full of straw. So with that, again, our primary principle is if you have a position that you want to be able to get into for your sport, for your life, again, my favorite anecdote is from a plumber, one of our clients. This was a few years ago, and I think he even replied to someone that said, “Oh, I don’t know about stretching. It’s not useful. It’s not,” whatever, and he goes, “It’s been useful for me. I’m a plumber. I got to get underneath these cabinets. I got to change toilets. I got to do all this stuff. Flexibility training worked for me, and these guys got it.”
Jarlo: I love that because how can you refute that? For him, that’s what he needed to do. So maybe we’ll take it into weightlifting, or power lifting, whatever. If you can’t get into a good position to power out your squat or get into a good deadlift, then you need to figure out a way to do it. Right? If you are into martial arts and your kick needs to be a little bit higher, and so you’re just totally straining to do it so it’s not even worth it, then you got to find yourself in a position to do it. If you like yoga, actually this is another thing, a lot of times, doing yoga actually doesn’t help you to get more flexible in the doing yoga part.
Andy: Don’t say it, man. Don’t say it.
Jarlo: It’s true though.
Andy: Don’t say it.
Jarlo: It’s true though.
Andy: I know, but some people are going to be really disappointed because yoga makes you flexible, right?
Jarlo: Yes. But not if you can’t do the thing in the first place.
Jarlo: Right? So the best yoga teachers, and I have had them, will find modifications, and then you work on that, and you work on that on your own. They don’t just go in there and fucking put your leg over your head and force it unless you’re ready, because I’ve actually had that done too by qualified, genuine people. So yes, that works, but again, this is nuanced. This is why we can always qualify every statement.
Jarlo: But that’s the thing, and we always say it again and again, if you want to be able to get your body to do certain things, then you’re going to have to figure out a way to do it, and stretching is the way. Stretching doesn’t work, there’s doesn’t even make any damn sense. If your training doesn’t work, building your bones up through resistance training doesn’t work, then…
Andy: Right, endurance training doesn’t work.
Jarlo: Endurance training doesn’t work.
Andy: Swimming doesn’t work.
Jarlo: Physics doesn’t work.
Jarlo: The earth is flat. That’s wrong. It’s definitely wrong. Our bodies are dynamic systems. We are either constantly changing every day or we’re dead.
Jarlo: That’s fucking physics.
Andy: The body does adapt to stimulus.
Jarlo: That’s fucking physics. These are the laws of the fucking universe.
Andy: It’s true. You can’t escape it.
Jarlo: So don’t tell me stretching doesn’t work.
Andy: You cannot escape the fact that stretching works. Sorry.
Jarlo: Stretching works in this universe. Maybe you’re in a different universe, but that’s what it is, man, Wolff’s Law, the body changes.
Jarlo: If you don’t change, you’re dead. This is the whole point of GMB, of actually the whole physical culture movement, is that we can change our bodies. We can change our bodies. It just takes time. We’re all too goddamn impatient sometimes. Me too.
Andy: Yeah. Oh, me too, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I have absolutely contemplated giving up on something when it wasn’t as easy as I immediately thought it was going to be.
Andy: So many times, so many times.
Jarlo: Come on now. Who doesn’t? Who is the saint that doesn’t?
Andy: I mean, we talk about these things and say, “Don’t do this,” but we’re not saying that you’re dumb or bad if you think that way because we think that way.
Andy: Everyone does. The difference is that we also know from our experience deeply that it is possible.
Jarlo: And you can move past it. You can even move past this way of thinking. We’ve done it ourselves. I’m doing it right now. Andy always laughs because every few years, I try and do a different martial art again.
Jarlo: Right? This time, I’m learning from my friend over in Germany Bagua, and it’s hard, man. I’m just like, ugh. Right? It is hard. The other day, I was like, “Why am I doing this?” Right? Why am I doing this? Because it’s fun, first of all, and I like getting better. You can change that. We’ve seen that with our clients, and our patients, and our people that are buying all our online programs. They make changes.
Jarlo: If we didn’t see that, we wouldn’t be here.
Andy: Right. The thing is you can’t say, “Well, I tried it, but I didn’t make any changes in my life at all, and I really didn’t give it a fair shot, so it doesn’t work.”
Andy: That’s just not the way it works, right? You know that for something that work, you have to make changes, right? For stretching to work, you have to make changes. You have to do this consistently. You have to do it the right way. You have to make adjustments to the stretches maybe and make them more appropriate for you, perhaps. But you have to make changes, and you have to keep doing it. Over time if you do that, you will prove to yourself that change is possible, that you can get beyond that, and that you can improve.
Jarlo: This is why I like this podcast. Everything that we’ve been talking about over the last 40 minutes or so is wide-ranging because that applies to everything, everything in our lives. It takes time, it takes patience, it takes a little bit of trust, it takes good information. It takes all of these things, but what it really takes is time.
Jarlo: It was time.
Andy: That’s actually a really good metaphor for this whole thing is we’ve rambled this whole 45 minutes or so, but it does take time for us to get to the point sometimes.
Jarlo: Well also too, and we’ve talked about this a lot, we really do tend to think holistically.
Jarlo: Because it’s part of who we are. It’s part of our experiences. It’s part of our company, part of the way we approach training. But it’s also, that’s the way things work. Everything is a totality. Everything depends on everything. You can get philosophical in all these different things.
Andy: Yeah. But even with that, you have to understand that all of these things do fit together. Any time you’re trying to zero in on stretching, or strength, or whatever, it’s just one part of the whole, right?
Jarlo: Right, right. That’s a long way of saying that yes, it’s hard, and it’s difficult, but it does work if you put in the time. We’re not just saying, “Do it. Trust us all. Don’t ask any questions.” That’s not what we’re saying.
Jarlo: We’re just saying give it a fair shot. Realize other people are in the same boat as you, right? Maybe not that person that’s teaching it, maybe not me who actually can do a squat, but I can tell you how to do certain things to get to that point. Right? Just like any teacher, just like any good teacher can.
Andy: Yeah, absolutely. Takeaway message is really broad, but it’s mostly just to understand that you can get past any kind of sticking point.
Andy: You can. You absolutely can. If the sticking point is in stretching, that article we talked about, FF, those are good things, right? The sticking point is something else? Well, we probably have something with that too. Send us an email, and we’ll try to help. But definitely don’t dismiss out of hand the possibility of improvement.
Andy: And don’t make ignorant comments on our YouTube channel, please.
Andy: It just makes me so sad.
Jarlo: I think a lot of that comes down to giving yourself the benefit of the doubt, too.
Andy: It does.
Jarlo: It does. There’s a reason why you’re seeking out these things, and you want to improve, and you’re trying to improve. Well, give yourself that benefit of the doubt, and give it a shot. Give it an actual try.
Andy: All right. That is going to be the end. Thank you for listening, and I hope that helps.
Jarlo: Thanks, guys.
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