One way to restore length in a muscle is a term called Eccentric Quasi Isometrics (EQIs). Tony Schwartz first alluded to this in one of Thibaudeau’s books to demonstrate a more effective way to stretch. First, let’s break down what this term really means as described in the book…
Eccentric: the muscles are lengthening while contracting
Quasi-Isometrics: action is very slow, almost static
One of my favorites is a push-up EQI. Basically, it is an isometric contraction but as you start to fatigue it becomes a slow eccentric movement because you start to sink between your hands. Stretching a muscle under contraction is going to have more a desired effect since it will stretch both passive and active structures at the same time. With traditional stretching you are only stretching the passive structures.
From an injury prevention standpoint, increasing only passive structures all the time can lead to injury since improving passive flexibility will not translate to dynamic flexibility. Some other benefits of the EQIs provided by Schwartz are…
- Strengthening the tendons: tendons are usually strengthened through eccentric stresses which is exactly what an EQI becomes as you begin to sink into the stretch.
- Strength transfer to all joint angles: because these are done with the muscles in extension, there are more than one joint angle being trained.
- Lactic Acid Tolerance: Isometrics do not allow blood flow in and out of the muscle which results in the build-up of metabolic byproducts, one which is lactic acid.
I really like the Push-up EQI and Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat EQI because the pecs and hip flexors are usually tight. RFE Split Squat EQI (picture below).
Focus on the duration of the exercise. I know that I’ve done 30-45 seconds in the RFE Split Squat, and it’s tough. If you stop before you start to sink down you are minimizing the effects you are trying to achieve. Remember to maintain proper posture throughout. For example, in the push-up, keep the shoulder blades squeezed back, and hips level. In the split-squat hold, prevent lumbar hyperextension and the weight kept on the heels.