You know the drill. After a great workout there are a few minutes left before the gym closes or your parking meter expires … or you just feel too good to head back to work yet. So you hit the floor for some stretches. It doesn’t happen often, does it?
Most days you’re running late and stretches get scrapped from the routine. And usually, you get away with it. But why is ditching the stretches risky?
All types of exercise involve repeated muscle contractions. These repeated contractions may result in a muscle remaining in a state of high tone (not fully relaxed) or low level contraction after the training session is complete. Over time, this can lead to a muscle tightening or shortening.
A tight muscle is less elastic and less capable of delivering force. This is why, flexibility or maintaining muscle length, has been one of the major aims for athletes for at least the past decade.
Stretching can be split into two broad categories; with movement (dynamic) and without (static). Static stretching involves holding a stretched position for a set period time without movement.
During static stretching,a muscle or a group of muscles are lengthened to a maximum range and held in this position.
• Returning the exercising muscle to its resting or pre-event length
• Aiding in relaxing muscles after exercise
• Allowing time to audit their body after exercise to identify potential injuries or tightness
• Reducing post-workout muscle fatigue and soreness
Dynamic stretching requires movement and is the preferred technique when preparing for exercise – while static stretching is recommended afterwards. Indeed, based on the scientific evidence, there has been a reduced emphasis on static stretching pre-exercise as it may interfere with a muscle’s protective mechanisms against overstretching during activity. Such overstretching can lead to muscle tears.
Dynamic stretching can be designed so it is sport or activity specific, allowing an athlete to gradually increase joint range of movement in preparation for the demands of their sport.
To find out more about core work, flexibility, or stretching contact us!