I received an email from a young man on the subject of stretching, a classic case of humans choosing conformity over thinking. The email went like this:
“Recently I purchased your Legacy book. The book is full of training gold, especially important information is about stretching. You should spread the truth about stretching. I can`t believe how everybody is wrong with this dynamic stretching B.S. Static stretching rules. I´m more flexible than ever, feel great, and it does transfer to dynamic motions.” [i]
I was really impressed that this young man sought to gain a personal experience about stretching prior to reaching a conclusion. He thought for himself, in the face of dogma to the contrary, and reached a conclusion contrary to the dogmatic teaching.
As for spreading the ‘truth’ about stretching, that’s what i have been doing for nearly 40 years now. The challenge is most people don’t want to think independently. The famous Dr. Albert Swcheitzer when asked in about 1952 reached the same conclusion. Earl Nightingale tells this story in his 1956 audio ‘The Strangest Secret’. (A must listen to!)
Here is the transcript:
“Some years ago, the late Nobel prize-winning Dr. Albert Schweitzer was asked by a reporter, “Doctor, what’s wrong with men today?” The great doctor was silent a moment, and then he said, “Men simply don’t think!” [ii]
Now as far as the truth or wrong, I tend to avoid these words where possible. To ignore the value of static stretching and replace it with dynamic stretching - or to leave your static stretching till after the workouts. These are mistakes.
However I understand how static stretching is promoted, and I understand most people are more committed to conformity than fulfilling their potential.
I have watched many of those who have achieved marketed position of influence in this industry promote their values on stretching. I know personally that the minority of these influencers who actually train don’t stretch, and never have. To acknowledge they have missed the point in training as regards stretching is not going to happen in their lifetimes. And the influencers who don’t train have no chance of knowing personally the best alternatives or combinations.
As for conformity, I again refer to the best selling (in the true sense of the word, not in the way current industry marketers use it) for one of the best comments on conformity:
“Rollo May, the distinguished psychiatrist, wrote a wonderful book called Man’s Search for Himself, and in this book he says: “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice … it is conformity.” And there you have the reason for so many failures. Conformity and people acting like everyone else, without knowing why or where they are going.” [iii]
[Imagine if referencing and crediting were the norm in this industry? wouldn’t that be amazing! instead of this encouragement to lie, cheat, steal and plagiarize…]
Now concepts are promoted with great dogma, which is why I have historically encouraged people to challenge and ignore the dogma:
“Not only are you taught with a degree of dogma in formal education, you are often taught not to think – rather to accept ‘this is the way’. Certain informal education teaches you to think for yourself (as we do at KSI) or teaches you a different perspective to the one you were taught to dogmatically adopt in your formal education. Exposure to this can cause some initial unease.” [iv]
I don’t suggest knowing the truth, however I have reached conclusions and encourage others to do the same, even if they are contrary to the dominant paradigms:
“I don’t know about truth, but I can say that blind and dogmatic teaching of this by personal trainers and others has contributed to some serious misconceptions…” [v]
My strong recommend has been to:
“Resist the temptation in program design to conform to mainstream paradigms simply for the sake of conforming, no matter how dogmatically they are presented, or how much you may be ridiculed or ostracized for trusting your intuition over conformity.” [vi]
Not to be confused of course with a thinly paraphrased paragraph that followed a year later in an article at t-nation.com from another ‘author’….
“When designing training programs, resist the pressure to conform to any tradition or system of beliefs, no matter how dogmatically that tradition or those beliefs are presented, or how much you get "slammed" for not conforming.” [vii]
My message to the young man who wrote to me, and to you to, is have the courage to think for yourself! And if you need help, I wrote the book ‘Barbells & Bullshit’ to help you. If nothing it will shock you into realizing that your own conclusions will be far more accurate and ethical and better for your than the self-serving dogma dished up by many who seek to exert their influence for reasons other than a pure intention to serve you. You can get this book in hard copy or e-book. If you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org sharing your commitment to think for yourself, I would love to give you a free copy of the e-book.
So the choice is yours – to think or to conform. Just don’t expect the masses to be so brave!
[i] Personal communication, name available on request, 26 April 2017
[iv] King, I., 1999, So You Want to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach
[v] King, I., 2001 (?), Q & A, T-mag.com, Issue #10
[vi] King, I., 2005, The Way of the Physical Preparation Coach, p. 17
[vii] xxxx 2006, xxxxx, T-mag.com, Feb