To stretch or not to stretch?
Do you dynamic stretch or static stretch before exercising?
Stretching has been for many years an integral part of just about any warm up routine .You will most likely have an obligatory stretching ritual that you complete before exercise, as if you were on auto pilot. Typically it will involve assuming a number of static postures targeting specific body regions and stretching anywhere between 10-30 seconds. This is known as static stretching.
Static stretching causes elongation and relaxation of muscle fibres.This is secondary to a change in nerve impulses that target the stretch receptors within the muscles and tendons. Performing static stretching in isolation prior to exercise, may actually impede your performance. The reason for this is that, relaxed and lengthened muscle is not optimal for exercise that requires power, speed and agility.
There is a current trend towards the use of dynamic warm up activities before sport. Basically, the principle of the dynamic warm up is to “fire up” your nervous system and increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles in preparation for the upcoming tasks. Simple examples include; star jumps, the walking lunge or arm swinging both backward and forward. A dynamic warm up of 15minutes is adequate.
On completion of your exercise/sport, a warm down consisting of static stretching is recommended. Static stretching during this period is designed to promote muscle relaxation, restore normal muscle length and promote recovery of your musculoskeletal system, in preparation for the next bout of exercise. How long should you stretch for post activity? Time frames vary but generally a warm down of 15-20 minutes is suggested.
Adequate flexibility is an important factor in optimising your movement efficiency during sporting related tasks. Regular static stretching will permit your joints to move smoothly through a greater range of motion and reduce the chance of sustaining injury. So it is vital to undertake your warm down every time. For some people who are inflexible a series of static stretches followed by a dynamic warm up may be beneficial.
Whether you are a recreational sports person or serious athlete, injury prevention and performance enhancement are a common goal. Advice on injury prevention and performance enhancement through appropriate exercise prescription, requires specialist knowledge and expertise. Your local Osteopath at North Shore Osteopaths are specialists in the provision of such advice. We will take a detailed medical history, followed by a thorough physical examination, postural and mobility assessment. As part of your treatment plan we will provide you with an appropriate dynamic warm up and static stretching program that will address your needs.
- For your pre sport preparation, perform a dynamic warm up using basic activities such as; star jumps, the walking lunge, and arm circles.15-20minutes.
- Static stretches post sport, 15-20 minutes duration. The stretch should be of mild discomfort and held for about 30 seconds. Do not bounce, and if you feel pain stop, do not push through pain as you may have sustained a muscle strain/tear.
- Optimal flexibility is important to enhance your overall movement efficiency, agility, speed and injury prevention. Regular static stretching warm down may enhance your over flexibility and joint mobility.
- Consult North Shore Osteopaths, so we can provide you with a professional postural and mobility analysis. This will enable us to tailor a specific warm up and warm down stretching program for you, that will enhance your overall performance and reduce your risk of injury.