Stretching

by: Lauren Clonts

For some people, stretching is a mandatory way to end a workout while others end their workouts and leave as fast as possible. Whether or not you stretch and how you stretch can improve or decrease your performance. Stretching before a workout is crucial to prevent injuries and stretching after is to help with muscle soreness and flexibility. The way you stretch before a workout is a little different than how you stretch after, though. Before you work out, you want to do dynamic stretches to warm your muscles up, especially if you are exercising after waking up or you have had a sedentary day. A dynamic warm up consists of active movements that mimic the movements that you will be doing such as walking lunges, butt kicks, high knees, skips, etc. you are wanting to warm up your muscles and increase blood flow to your extremities so prevent injuries during your workout. Not only is this type of warm up shown to decrease injuries, it has also shown to increase performance in athletes. Studies have found that doing static stretches before a workout has actually decreased power output (Simic et al, 2009). After a workout, static stretching is recommended. Static stretching is holding a position, such as toe touches, for 15-30 seconds for 3 to 5 sets (Millar, 2012). Static stretching is supposed to be more focused on flexibility and range of motion for joints. Static stretching is great after a workout, because you can focus on flexibility and getting proper range of motion for different exercises you do. This will help decrease the amount of stress that is placed on your joints, improve muscle imbalances, and help correct your posture. Stretching is a vital part of improving performance as an athlete and helps you reach your fitness goals (Curry et al, 2009), but you want to make sure that you are doing the correct type of stretching to decrease the chances of injuries.

Citations

Curry BS, Chengkalath D, Crouch GJ (2009). Acute effects of dynamic stretching, static stretching, and light aerobic activity on muscular performance in women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, Dec.;23(6):1533-4287.

Herman SL, Smith DT (2008). Four-week dynamic stretching warm-up intervention elicits longer-term performance benefits. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, Sep.;22(4):1533-4287.

Millar, Lynn (2012). Improving Your Flexibility and Balance. ACSM.org

Simic L, Sarabon N, Markovic G (2012). Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal muscular performance? A meta-analytical review. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Feb.;23(2):1600-0838.

 

Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies department