2 Types of Stretching to Enhance Performance

A beautiful July summer evening for a 2 mile run in Lakes Park. Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II.

Stretching is traditionally tacked on at the end of an exercise session and only if we have spare time...

However, when we consider all of the benefits stretching provides both before and after exercise, we should really give stretching the due diligence and respect it and our bodies deserve.

I'm sure everyone has experienced the same scenario in one way or another:

After a great workout with a hard effort either in the gym, on the track or in the pool, you've got 5 more minutes set aside for training so you immediately start stretching … not!

Sound familiar?

Most days you're running late and stretches get scrapped from the routine.

Sometimes you get away with it, but this habit of ditching the stretches is risky and will catch up with you.

Every type of exercise we do involves repeated muscle contractions.

These contractions could result in a muscle remaining in a state of high tone (not fully relaxed) or low-level contraction after a training session.

Over time, this can lead to a muscle tightening or shortening. A tight muscle is less elastic and less capable of delivering force.

This is why, flexibility or maintaining muscle length has been a major priority for athletes for at least the past decade and why it is essential to stretch for muscle maintenance and injury prevention.

Stretching can be divided into two categories:

  1. with movement (dynamic) and
  2. without (static).

The latter is what most of us grew up on and what we thought for years was the pinnacle of flexibility.

Static stretching involves holding a stretched position for at least 30 seconds without movement.

During static stretching, a muscle or a group of muscles are lengthened to a maximum range and held in this position.

Static stretches are preferred and should be performed at the end of a training session.

Benefits of static stretching after exercise include:

  • returning the exercising muscle to its resting or pre-exercise length,
  • aiding in relaxing muscles after exercise,
  • reducing post-workout muscle fatigue and
  • reducing soreness.

Dynamic stretching requires movement and is the preferred when preparing for exercise.

Dynamic exercises involve movement and are usually implemented during an active warm-up for a higher intensity activity, such as sport or field events.

These types of exercises help pre-stretch and activate the muscles without overstretching them, as static stretching does.

Dynamic exercises prepare the muscles for the activity, increase muscle temperature, and stimulate the nervous system, which results in greater power output.

These types of exercises involve active full range of motion movements and quick stretches slightly greater than normal range of motion.

Dynamic stretching can be designed so it is sport or activity specific, allowing an athlete to gradually prepare their body for the demands of their sport.

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist and Tony Robbins Results Coach from Fort Myers. She also is a Corrective Biomechanics Specialist, USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach, has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification, and a PhD in results!

Contact her, or find out more about her monthly online program, at: www.GearedUP.biz!


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