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Monday
Sep192011

Stretching Science.

“Make sure you stretch and get a good warm-up” is a phrase often heard. This advice however is slowly disappearing due to recent research. This article will discuss the research and provide information on when and how to stretch.

  Should I stretch before activity? Stretching before activity does not reduce the risk of injury. Several large prospective studies have shown no difference in injury rates when warming up for physical training with and without static stretching. Simply, this means you have the same chance of getting injured whether you stretch before activity or not. This suggests that there is no positive effect to stretching before an activity.   In fact if you stretch before activity, you might be decreasing your performance. Recent research has shown that static stretching before an activity creates a decrease (5 ‐ 28%) in most types of maximal muscular performance. Studies have shown that holding a stretch for the typical 20- 30 seconds will cause an immediate 5% reduction in strength. Also, the longer you hold the stretch the greater decrease in muscle activation, which can last up to 60 minutes.

  So how should I warm up? Progressive active warm-up routines are now recommended before any training and competition. A great way to get your muscles and joints ready is to use ‘dynamic stretching’. Starting your workout with 5 – 10 minutes of cardio is also a great idea.

When should I use static stretching? Don’t get me wrong, stretching is great, you just have to realize why, when and how to stretch. If you stretch before activity, you may be decreasing your performance. Why? Many people are ‘stiff’ and need to increase their flexibility – this is the reason to stretch, not to decrease risk of injury before competition. When? Stretching after your workout is recommended when your muscles are still ‘warm’. However, static stretching pretty much anytime is fine, just try to leave an hour between when you stretch and before you start exercising. How?  To gain flexibility, it is best to perform a slow, comfortable stretch – it should never be painful and holding for a minimum of 20 seconds is recommended.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any questions: drplante@targettherapeutics.com

Yours in good health,
Dr. Pierre – D. Plante
Chiropractor
Chiropractic Sport Sciences Resident
Active Release Technique Provider
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Contemporary Medical Acupuncture
Certified Kinesiotape Practitioner