Ok, so maybe Stretch Armstrong is a little stretch of the imagination of how flexible we may be, but ya get the point. A question I get a lot is how and when to stretch.
There are several different types of stretches, as well as different techniques so I’m not going to dive into the fine detail and definition of all of the possibilities.
Some common categories of stretching that you can do on your own (without a partner pulling or pushing to create a stretch or force) are ballistic, dynamic, & static.
The first stretch I mentioned, ballistic – don’t do it. It’s basically been banned due to the injury possibilities and no beneficial effect over other, safer, forms of stretching. Ballistic stretching is the bouncing type of stretching, where you take the muscle to near its limit and then bounce to stretch it further using momentum. For example reaching over to touch your toes and bouncing to increase the range even further. this kind of stretching can injure vital muscles and nerves with the sharp jerking movements.
Dynamic stretching involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both. There is no bouncing, quick movement or jerking. It is slow and controlled; such as slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists.
There is also static stretching, which is the most commonly used type of stretch. This is when you reach into a stretch position, stretching to your farthest point and hold the stretch for a length of time. You feel a stretch in the ‘belly’ of the muscle, not in the joints.
So – do you stretch right off the bat before you get going into your workout or sport to get your muscles ready to go? Research shows that stretching immediately before your workout or sport can actually hinder your activity and can even cause injury.
See. there is a difference between warming up and stretching.
Our muscles are like taffy. If you left a piece of taffy sitting in the cold for a while, then grabbed it and started stretching it – what happens? SNAP! But if you warmed it up first, and then started stretching, now we’re talking Stretch Armstrong flexibility.
So get warm first. And warm ups will vary, depending on what you’re warming up for. You may want to mimic the type of activity you’re going to be doing, but in a slower, controlled way. For example with Turbo workouts, the warm up starts out with controlled punches, knee lifts, but some stretching is then integrated in the form of squats, shoulder rolls, etc to get the blood flowing to the major muscle groups as well as to prepare them for what’s coming.
Then rock your workout or play your game hard. And then cool down.
And THEN stretch. A lot of the studies haven’t really confirmed whether stretching prevents injuries or improves performance but may reduce soreness and help with flexibility. So whatever your reason for stretching – just make sure your body and muscles are warm and you are careful in your technique.
“You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.” ~Bob Harper ;~}