To Stretch or not to Stretch?

Stretching has always been a big part of any training routine, tracing its roots as far back as over 2000 years. Generally it is believed that if you stretch prior to any exercises you will help your muscles to move through the full range of motion, it would make muscle fibres more pliable and less injury prone during the exercise as well as help you to increase your overall flexibility and wellbeing.

Surprisingly some studies in the last 15 years failed to find any significant benefits from the most common form of stretching, static stretching. These studies have shown little benefits from stretching when it came to claims of injury prevention, performance enhancement or reduction in DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). As the matter of fact, some studies actually shown that stretching can have a negative impact on performance in explosive strength and power sports.

However, before you give up on stretching all together, the correct stretching technique, appropriate inclusion of stretches for the activities you are about to commence and duration you hold a particular stretch can make all the difference.

One of the more comprehensive studies has shown that many previous studies over the last 15 years did not include a full warp-up, and also tested stretches that were held much longer than what is typically done. It seems that the trick is not to hold a static stretch for no longer than 60 seconds, make sure to continue with the warm up routine as part of your stretching routine.

It is critical that you use the appropriate warm up routine and stretches for the activities that you are about to undertake. Thus if you are about to perform any activity that will require very powerful movements, static stretching can reduce the capacity of muscles to produce high force and power. Instead you are much better of performing a number of simple exercises that will help to warm up and engage appropriate muscles prior to performing high power explosive compound exercises.

When you are about to commence a personal training session with one of Idealbody4life personal trainers, your trainer will guide you through the appropriate warm up routine, which may include a variety of stretches, warm up exercises and fascia tissue release with a foam roller. Each Idealbody4life personal training session is different and unique to a particular client, and thus warm up routine and stretches always need to reflect that unique training routine that one our clients is about to commence.