Stretching in America is a cult. Every fitness-junkie guru preaches flexibility. They growl, they drool and they promise hell to the infidels who don't or won’t stretch. Yet the stretching methods they offer are at best laughable, at worst dangerous.
Americans lose flexibility as they grow older because they are used to relying on the elasticity of their tissues. A lifetime of activity builds up microtrauma in our muscles, tendons and fascia. When it heals, a scar is formed. It pulls the wound together, making the muscle shorter. Some American doctors believe that relaxed stretching after exercise can prevent the muscle from healing at a shorter length. That point of view gives credibility to some sick stretching methods.
I heard that sumo wrestlers used to assume their deepest split position, then have their sensei jump on their thighs to rip the tissues and bring the big boy down to a full split. In a few weeks or months the ground meat supposedly healed at a new length and splits were no longer a problem. I do not know if someone was pulling my leg with this story, but I do know an aerobic instructor who purposefully tears her hamstrings by overstretching them, then spends hours in that position to insure that the muscles will heal at a new, greater, length. Sick—very sick.