Stretching

  • Does stretching improve performance?
  • Does stretching improve muscle flexibility?
  • Does stretching prevent injury?

Research into stretching shows

  • Static stretching (a holding stretch) before physical activity does not prevent injuries and may make you prone to injuries, and decrease your performance.
  • A dynamic stretching warm-up routine (a moving stretch) is beneficial in many ways – and used regularly is helpful in maintaining flexibility.

Dynamic stretching is best pre-race or pre-game

Dynamic stretching:

  • is a slow controlled movement that takes a joint through a complete range of motion
  • helps promote blood flow to working muscles
  • helps the muscles to stretch through their optimal range prior to working the muscles hard through sport/exercise

Sport-specific dynamic stretching is recommended

Sport or race-specific, dynamic stretching is best as it targets the most intensely used muscles, reducing injury risk further. With more elasticity in the main muscles that you will use during your race, you will likely improve overall performance.

 

 

 

 

 

Static stretching is best used after training or post-race

Static stretching applies a force to a muscle, typically when holding a muscle in one position without moving for 30 seconds or more. It:

  • helps lengthen a muscle, improving flexibility
  • provides a slow, cool-down period for your muscles, helping to reduce soreness

Static stretching is not to be used prior to exercising. Why?

  • Holding a muscle in a stretch position when it is cold and without adequate blood flow can lead to muscle tears.
  • Static stretching causes a muscle to lengthen, it can reduce the ability of the muscle to contract forcefully, impacting on the power that can be produced.

According to the latest research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, static stretching can actually decrease muscle strength by up to 5.5% and power by up to 2.8%, leading to an increased risk of injury.

 

To optimise your performance and remain injury free

We recommend:

1. Gentle warm-ups followed by
2. Dynamic sport/race specific stretching
3. Activity/race/sport
4. Static stretching

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