STOP STRETCHING…at least before your workout

You have probably heard the old axiom “stretch well before your workout”.  It was something that was probably taught to you in gym class and in sports as you were growing up.  Coaches or instructors would have you hold a stretch for 20 or 30 seconds, maybe longer, and then you would move onto the next stretch.  This is called static stretching.  You may still hear people swear by stretching before exercising.   However, recent research has shown that static stretching can increase the probability of injury as well as diminish your performance during exercise.

Recent studies have shown diminished strength and explosiveness in muscles after static stretching as well as slower acceleration and maximal running velocity.

A study by Perrier, Pavol, and Hoffman in the Journal for Strength and Conditioning found that participant’s performance in counter movement jump height, which measures explosiveness, showed significantly better result from dynamic stretching vs. static stretching in height (43cm vs. 41.9cm).  To read the abstract, click here:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21701282

Another well constructed study out of Middle Tennessee State University, which can be found here,  http://www.setantacollege.com/wp-content/uploads/Journal_db/THE%20EFFECT%20OF%20STATIC%20STRETCHING%20ON%20PHASES%20OF.pdf shows the negative impact of static stretching on acceleration and maximal running velocity.

So, what should you do prior to exercising?  Dynamic stretching is a better way to prepare your body for the demands of exercise.  The purpose of dynamic stretching is to increase blood flow, core body temperature and range of motion.  Dynamic stretching is similar to static stretching in that you work your body through a full range of motion, but do not hold the full stretch.  For example, you would do a series of leg swings, body weight squats (air squats), lunges, high knees, arm circles, trunk rotations, etc.  These movements activate your muscles, brining more blood to them, raising their temperature, and essentially making them more flexible.  A good dynamic warm up will last about 10 minutes and you should be starting to break a sweat.  In a future post we will include a video of a good dynamic stretching routine to do before any workout.  In the meantime, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us via email or a phone call.  We are always here to help.

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