Three Longs & Three Shorts

Is there a perfect way to stretch?

Most of us during our school and college days were taught that before you do strenuous exercise, you need to stretch. However, it turns out that how you stretch – before, during and after exercise – is quite important. More to the important, the typical middle-aged man’s stretch – the static stretch – is apparently a complete ‘no, no’ in the world of high performance sports. Apparently the “‘Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research which says that it can impair explosive performance for at least 24 hours…”
Pulasta Dhar, a sports commentator says in this piece that “Renowned strength and conditioning coach Michael Boyle writes about this change in attitude… “static stretching has gone from the best way to warm-up to something that no one should ever do again.” Boyle has coached elite athletes and teams like the Boston Red Sox and the American women’s Olympic football and ice hockey teams, and his opinion is that the fitness world has unfairly turned against static stretching in favour of dynamic stretches.”
So what is dynamic stretching? [If you click on the link to the piece, you will find useful videos showing dynamic stretching.] Mr Dhar explains, “Dynamic stretches help your muscles get ready for activity. These are stretches where you are focusing on waking up your muscles and increasing blood flow to avoid acute injuries. In fitness jargon, they tend to increase your range of motion, or ROM. They also tend to boost the ability of muscles to produce force. One of the muscles that tends to respond really well to dynamic stretching before physical activity is the hamstring. A paper in the Journal Of Sports Science And Medicine on the sustained effects of dynamic stretching on ROM and stiffness of hamstrings found that “dynamic stretching caused a sustained reduction in passive stiffness of the hamstrings and increase in knee ROM… our results suggest that dynamic stretching of the hamstrings before exercise may help to prevent injuries.”
The easiest dynamic stretch for the hamstring is the leg swing aka the high kick with toe-touch.”
All of that being said, Mr Dhar defends old fashioned static stretching that our PT teachers taught is in school by quoting a conditioning expert: “…while static stretching may impair your speed, your movement will benefit greatly in the long term. Especially when combined with aerobic activity both before and after the stretch, both performance and range of motion improve,” writes strength and conditioning specialist Karl Riecken in his article The Benefits of Static Stretching Before and After Exercise in”
Mr Dhar ends the piece with useful tips on stretching for office workers like us at Marcellus: “There are some tips for stretching you may want to apply though, before you get into a routine:
-Stretching should never be painful, but slightly uncomfortable
-Use active stretches, and never be lazy about holding them for 15-30 seconds
-Make sure you target all the overlooked areas like hip flexors, adductors, and hamstrings.”