How Stretching Prevents Damage During Workouts
For many people exercise is something they need to fit in around their busy work/life routines. Being on a short timeframe can mean that the easy thing to do is to hit the gym and jump straight on the weights or the treadmill. Stretching is a luxury that most people don’t think they have time for.
However, proper stretching both before and after exercise is critical to avoiding injuries that can stall your exercise routines. In this article, we’ll be looking at how stretching prevents injuries and how you should do it.
Avoid Static Stretching
Before we get started, it’s important to note that current research around stretching in sports suggests that static stretching, that is to say holding a limb at the edge of its range of movement, usually for up to a minute, is not as effective as dynamic stretching.
Dynamic stretching involves deliberately moving a limb repeatedly through its entire range of movement and can deliver the same range of motion and lessed chance of injury benefits of static stretching without the associated negative effects on strength, power, and speed.
Stretching Before Exercise
Current scientific research suggests that stretching large muscle groups within their ranges of movement using dynamic stretching helps to prepare you body for exercise by increasing blood flow and range of motion.
Unlike static stretching, dynamic stretching also increased the heart rate. The timings for effective dynamic stretching vary between muscle groups, but performing dynamic stretching for less than 90 seconds is far less likely to improve flexibility and performance than longer bouts.
Stretching After Exercise
There is a common misconception that stretching after exercise helps to avoid delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), however, most studies focussing on DOMS have found no link between stretching after exercise and lowered levels of post-exercise pain.
There are still health benefits associated with stretching after exercise, such as improved circulation and reduced blood pressure, but stretching before exercise seems to have a far greater impact than stretching afterward.
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Barbara Alcaraz, M.A., B.A., L.M.T.
Massage Therapy Program Chair
M. A. Organizational Management, University of Phoenix
B.A. University of Minnesota, American Studies
L.M.T. Northwest Health Careers