Intro to Loaded Stretching for Strong Flexibility, Without Warmup

There are three main benefits to loaded stretching, 1) having strength at the end range of motion (ROM) allows you to access stretched positions without a warm-up, 2) this strength allows you to use the stretched positions in movement, which is extremely helpful in wrestling matches, and 3) tracking progress is much easier than other styles of stretching.

Loaded Stretching is mostly a neuromuscular adaptation – the process of the nervous system learning that the body can handle load in extreme ranges of motion without injury. Thus, it needs to be taken slow. If you take it too fast, the nervous system will get spooked and actually limit range of motion more to protect the joints from injury. If you are, indeed, ready to work on the splits and pancake, you may need to use a bent front leg or hand assistance with the front splits in the beginning, and everyone should start with a light weight on the loaded pancake – around 10-15 pounds should do. Increase the weight as strength and range of motion increases.

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