I know you have heard it once before... "Sally you need to stretch!"
There is a ton of controversy around stretching. Recently, I saw that there was an article published that stated stretching does not even reduce injury risk. Shaaahhh Rightttt. With all the information, articles, research, and opinions out there it is has got to be hard for the athlete to figure out what to do. Do I stretch before my game or after? Do I perform dynamic stretches or static ones? Do I even need to stretch at all?
Let's start with some definitions to help you out and we can take it from there.
Static Stretches: are those in which you stand, sit or lie still and hold a single position for period of time.
Dynamic Stretches: are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion
Now that you know the difference the next question becomes " Do I need to stretch?"
Yes Sally you do!
Why? Flexibility is one piece of the pie when it comes to performance. Your muscles need to have the flexibility to do the tasks you ask them to do. If you are a soccer player and you need to kick a long ball at a fast speed and with strong force, your hamstring needs to be able to have the length in it to do that. If you are a Ballerina, and you are performing ballet leaps or leg holds, you need to have the flexibility in your adductors to do this.
In addition- muscles also get tight and overworked in practice, play and training. Stretching helps to lengthen the muscles and help them relax and recover in the opposite way than they are being worked.
The next questions become what is better Static or Dynamic Stretching and when do I stretch.
The first answer is both forms of stretching are important and should be done.
Dynamic stretching should be used before a practice, game, training session or workout out. Dynamic stretches are designed to warm the body up. So you improve flexibility while you are moving.
Static stretching should be done after a practice, game, training session or workout out. It should be used to cool the body down or as a recovery tool.
Do you have to stretch every time you work out and both before and after? Probably not. To be honest- it depends on how much you train and work out. If you stretch 2-3 times a week you are probably good. But you need to check in with your body and see. Only YOU really know what you need. You know when you are tight or loose. You know if you have over or under trained that week. Do I stretch before every training session- usually I do. But often times I am just checking in with my body and moving through what I think needs to moved and stretching what I think needs to be stretched. Not EVERY muscle in my body. It usually takes me 5-10 mins MAX!
Stretching can also be done on its own as a way to check in with your hot bod and improve flexibility.
Got it? Have questions? Hopefully this gave you some answers. If not drop us a line and we will get you on track.
<3 Dr. Ja'nae Brown