Is stretching essential in your exercise or workout regime?
Does it boost recovery?
As a Chiropractor with a special interest in helping young dancers (my
background as a child) I am often asked about stretching both pre and post-exercise.
I want to focus on the two main types of stretching – static and dynamic.
Static stretching is moving a muscle into a lengthened position and holding it for an
extended period (usually 30 to 60 seconds).
Dynamic stretching is moving muscles/joints through their range of motion, usually specific
to movements required for the sport.
It is widely accepted that individuals may be at a heightened risk of injury if they lack
sufficient flexibility to meet the demands of the sport. Traditional warm-ups using static
stretching is not the most efficient way to prevent injury, and may even hinder
performance. In order to prepare your muscles and joints for exercise, you need to take
them through their range of motion.
Sport-specific dynamic stretching should be included before exercise. Dynamic stretching
should change depending on the sport/activity. It needs to replicate movement patterns
and tasks that you’re about to complete (e.g. dynamic kicks, arm swings). You don’t need to
include static stretching as part of a warm-up.
Research shows that static stretching can in fact reduce strength and power. Even if you
are a dancer or gymnast, you can exclude static stretching in warm-ups. One study
reported an almost 10% loss in drop jump height after a round of static calf stretches held
for 30 seconds.
Delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (DOMS) is not reduced by static stretching. In short, you do
not need to include static stretching for an efficient warm-up, but you do
need to prepare your body for specific movements and take your muscles and joints
through their range of motion. This should be achieved through dynamic stretching and
other warm-up strategies, rather than static stretching.
I recommend performing static stretching post-exercise if you still want to incorporate it
into your training.
Please feel free to ask me about your situation specifically at your next consult so we can
tailor the appropriate stretching for your body, its injuries and your sport or choice.
Dr Jaimi McKeown