stretches as part of your warm-up

Why you should not be doing static stretches as part of your warm-up.

You probably think you are doing the right thing spending 20-30min before your game stretching to help warm up and get ready to perform. However, recent research has shown there is a more effective way of warming up. Traditionally you may have been told to make sure you stretch during your warm-up. This is not completely wrong, but the emphasis today is now on dynamic vs static stretching.

What is a Dynamic Stretch

Dynamic stretching is essentially an active warm up where you are moving as you stretch. For example, exercises like leg swings or windmill arms. In comparison static stretching is where you would hold a position for 30-60 seconds. This is not to say that static stretching does not have its place – but not immediately before you work-out. Static stretching is great to do as part of a cool down or to help improve flexibility at other times.

So what is the evidence for dynamic stretching?

In research published by The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Croatian scientists compared 104 past studies on static stretching as an exclusive warm up to find that it reduces strength in the stretched muscles by up to 5.5 percent!

They concluded that: “static stretching as the sole activity during a warm-up routine should generally be avoided.”

On the other hand, a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that dynamic stretching enhances muscular performance. The researchers looked at leg extension power and found that performance was significantly greater after dynamic stretching, compared to after ‘no stretching’ and ‘static stretching’.

The takeaway: dynamic stretching is the way to go.

You should aim to target the muscle groups you are about to use. You should also aim to make it sport specific. e.g., a great soccer warm up may consist of exercises like running, lunges, leg swings, hip openers and then into some sport specific drills including, passing, change of direction drills, kicking, jumping.

There are some great warm up ideas on the internet including the “FIFA 11+” and “The KNEE program” by netball Australia, or ask your physio, they would be more than happy to write out a warmup program for you specific to your sport.

Get in touch and speak with a Newcastle Physio from Bradmeadwow Physiotherapists.

What is a static stretch?

Static stretching involves holding a stretch in one position for an extended period, usually 30 seconds or more, to promote muscle relaxation. It is commonly performed either pre or post-workout and is used to improve flexibility and prevent injuries. One benefit of static stretching is that it helps decrease muscle stiffness, reducing the chances of injuries during a workout session. By stretching before a workout, you can prepare your muscles for the upcoming activity and minimize soreness that may arise post-workout. However, it is essential to note that performing static stretches before a workout can also reduce your strength and power levels because it diminishes your muscle’s contractile properties.

Another benefit of static stretching is that it can improve body posture by reducing muscle tension. Because static stretching targets specific muscle groups and tendons, it helps release tension in those areas and promotes overall relaxation in the body. Moreover, practicing static stretching regularly can increase joint flexibility, which is crucial for older adults as flexibility decreases as we age.

Despite the numerous benefits of static stretching, it has its drawbacks. Studies published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that performing static stretches before training can decrease the explosive force production required during high intensity activities such as jumping and sprinting. It can also negatively impact your performance during resistance training exercises such as weightlifting. Therefore, the best way to incorporate static stretches in your routine is to perform them after your workout. After a strenuous activity, your muscles become fatigued; hence, using static stretches after your workout can help restore your body’s flexibility.

When incorporating static stretches into your workout routine, it is crucial to target the right muscle groups. Targeting the specific muscle groups used during your workout or physical activity is an ideal approach as it allows your body to increase its range of motion gradually. It is also essential to breathe while performing static stretches; holding your breath can cause muscle tension, thereby negating the benefits of the stretch.