All Posts tagged stretching

When should I stretch?

Placing static stretches at the beginning of a training session interrupts the natural flow of an optimal warm-up and fails to prepare you fully for the dynamic movements that follow. However…

what you do just before your workout begins can have a big impact on what you are able to do during your workout. Don’t carry out routine static stretching before competition, but you can perform static stretching exercises before a workout if you need corrective exercise. Static stretching helps to improve your static (non-moving) flexibility, it does not do a good job at preparing your body to move quickly and efficiently.

That’s why I recommend more dynamic mobility exercises before every regular workout once you are not in need of corrective exercises. Here are the facts:

Dynamic Mobility exercises prepare your body completely for the vigorous movements that make up the main part of your workout. Most sports involve forceful, strenuous activity, and mobility exercises and drills stimulate your nervous system, muscles, tendons, and joints in a very dynamic manner, unlike stretching.

Static stretching exercises simply elongate a particular muscle or group of muscles. You can always do static stretches at the end of your workout as part of the cool-down. This is because they bring your body back toward a state of rest and recovery and allow you to focus on relaxing and lengthening the muscles that you have put under stress during your workout.


How long will it take to feel results from stretching?

Mobility and flexibility training has a cumulative effect over an extended period of time. After about two weeks I usually see clients experience less pain. After about four weeks or so, you should notice appreciable gains in your mobility, flexibility and ability to move smoothly during your activities. Best of all, you’ll also notice an appreciable improvement in your workouts – and your competitive efforts!  Keep it up!


Static vs Dynamic Flexibility

A lack of  flexibility can lead to injuries, chronic pain, or slow down the recovery & repair process after an injury. Tightness in parts of your body especially noticed while exercising means you are going to have ‘energy leaks’ and probably not function to your full potential.  Some people are so tight they just learn to avoid certain movements and actions altogether.

Not everyone can achieve a feeling of suppleness, but we can at least try to improve our flexibility by stretching. I always say “you never know how loose you can become without trying”. If you don’t regularly stretch, it is only a matter of when you get injured, not if.

Regarding your spine, flexible muscles perform a lot better than tight muscles. In sports, such as running, swimming, football or hiking — whatever your activity, you need to gain and maintain the flexibility that is specific to the requirements of your sport.

One of the biggest controversies in sports medicine is about stretching. 

Studies of endurance runners have shown pre-race static stretching has a poor effect. For instance, in one famous study by Jacobs & Berson (1986), it was found that those who stretched beforehand were injured more often than non-stretchers.

The kind of ‘static stretching’ you see as part of a warm-up for distance runners is very common, and yet the research, and logic, shows that static stretches do little to help prevent injuries or improve muscle function before an activity.

Instead, active mobility (dynamic) exercises, starting slowly and building up to sports-specific speeds are more appropriate both before exercise and generally, to develop sports performance. 

The key is the difference between static and dynamic exercises.