Dwelling On The Anna Maya Kosha For A Second...
I just finished an interesting book on stretching called "Relax into Stretch" by Pavel Tsatsouline, a former Soviet Special Forces instructor and kettle-bell nut. Sometimes wonder why you're more flexible after taking a few days off? Let's talk about the Reminiscence Effect.
"In fact, occasional time off will help you to improve due to the reminiscence effect.
Motor-learning experts know that a skill tends to improve after a lay-off. Multiple repetitions of a drill, a rock climbing technique, a reverse punch, a split, or a deadlift, forms what Russians call the dynamic stereotype, or a ‘how-to manual’ of this movement in the athlete’s nervous system.
You learn to perform exactly as practiced — the form, the force, the range of motion, etc. Although forming a dynamic stereotype is necessary to master a sports skill, once it is formed, it is difficult to improve on. Once you have reached a plateau, continued practice only reinforces it, which is why a powerlifter has to start all over with lighter weights once he has set a new personal best.
If you lay off stretching, your brain gets a chance to forget your limit. This is the essence of the reminiscence effect. Once your old PR [personal record] has been erased, you are ready to train for a new one!
Russian author Victor Popenko advocates another plateau-busting strategy similar to a lay-off — the stepwise progression.
It is known that, in any endeavor, it takes much less effort to maintain the achieved performance level than to reach it in the first place. Say you have been practicing splits for five sets three times a week. You have made good progress but finally hit the wall. Then cut back to the minimal amount of stretching which maintains your current level, for example, two sets once every five days.
Maintenance requirements vary from person to person. I can skip up to a month and still do a split in a seminar through shear grit. Most comrades need to practice at least once every five to seven days, lest they choose to slide back. Having stabilized your flexibility for a few weeks, once again increase your training load — and exceed your old limits!"