Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Injury Prevention Tip: Stretching: 06/12/2012

Stretching is probably one of the most forgotten part of the workout. Perhaps it is just simply overlooked, or maybe people feel that they can't stretch if they want to get their workout finished in a certain amount of time. Truth is this, if you aren't stretching you are increasing your chances of injury.

What stretching does?

  1. Improves circulation in the muscle
  2. Returns the muscle back to it's original length at the end of the workout
  3. Increases range of motion
  4. Breaks up adhesions along the muscle fascia
  5. Aids in the releases of muscle spasms 
  6. Can relax the mind and body and is similar to meditation

Who should stretch?

Everyone. All athletes and active individuals should stretch. The differences lay in the types of stretches that someone is going to perform before or after their workout.


Stretching protocols
  1. Static Stretching
    1. Hold each stretch for 30 secs or 12 - 15 sec minimum 
    2. Ideally each stretch should be performed 3x
    3. Best done at the beginning and end of your workout 
  2. Dynamic Stretching
    1. This is an explosive repetitive stretch. Example: high knees, leg swings, butt kicks or repetitive toe touches
    2. Best done at the beginning of any workout
    3. Each exercise should be preformed for sets of 10 or for 30 sec
  3. Ballistic Stretching
    1. Never bounce a stretch
    2. Not recommended
  4. Self Myofascial Release (SMR)
    1. A form of self massage
    2. Generally used with a foam roller, but a tennis ball or any ball that is not soft would work well
    3. Roll around on the foam roller or ball where you are tight
    4. Once you find a spot that is painful you will need to remain on that spot for 30 - 60 sec and then move around again until another painful spot is found

Is stretching different for workout regimens of athletic training style?

Yes and no. The only difference in how you will stretch before a training session or competition will be based off of what activities you will be performing.

Power athletes: This would include most track and field athletes (endurance athletes excluded) and Olympic lifters or power lifters, or any other athlete that would require to produce large amounts of power to generate great force and velocity to perform their task should perform dynamic stretches. For people training in this area, even if for a day, it would be recommended to start out with dynamic stretches and finish with static stretching and/or SMR. Research has shown that static stretching at the beginning of a competition or training session can decrease force output. Static stretching before any power competition can increase start to finish time for sprinters and speed athletes, decrease the force - velocity relationship in lifting, and produce decrements in the overall power generated due to a lengthening of the muscle.  

Everyone else, including endurance athletes and team sport athletes, should begin and end with any stretch technique. However, finishing with static stretching is best and highly recommended. Set aside at least 5 minutes at the end of your workout for a stretching session. The end of your workout is the most important time to stretch. 


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