The views on stretches have changed over the last couple years and its time you changed the way you stretch as well. Turns out that the way we stretched for years wasn’t necessarily the best. Research has found that static stretching, where you hold a stretch 30 seconds or more, before running has been found to INCREASE injuries and DECREASE performance! Not exactly accomplishing what we want out of stretching.
But isn’t stretching good for us?
Yes, but we need to alter the type of stretching we do. We should be performing dynamic stretching before our activities and static stretching after our exercise. Dynamic stretching is when we actively take our joints and muscles through their range of motion. This helps to warm up the muscles and joints and improve blood flow allowing them to handle stresses better. Examples of dynamic exercises are high knees, butt kicks, jumping up and down, and simple running.
The closer the dynamic stretch or warm up is to the actual task the better. After exercise the muscles have been stressed and will possibly feel tight or stiff. This is the time to break out the static stretches. In addition to the static stretches cool down exercises can be performed as well. Cool down exercises can be similar to the warm up exercises and should be performed at low intensity. The cool down exercises help to remove lactic acid buildup after an intense workout and can help with some of the stiffness/soreness associated with hard workouts. Watch the video below for examples of dynamic stretching:
If you have questions about dynamic stretching our want help with a warm up/cool down routine please contact us and we will be glad to help.
Jamie Bovay, DPT, CSCS
Atlas Physical Therapy