STRETCHING AND INJURIES
2. Stretching before a physical activity can even cause injury because it reduces force production and power output.
3. Stretching before physical activities should only be undertaken for events that require a large amount of flexibility, such as gymnastics or ballet.
4. Warming up before physical activities utilizing movements and exercises that are similar to the actual movements to be undertaken should be more than enough to prepare the body. For example, if the physical activity for the day will include doing bench presses, then a good warm up would include performing bench presses at a high volume and at a low intensity. So, if you are performing bench presses for that day for 5 repetitions of 5 sets at 80% of your 1-repetition maximum, then your warm up might be to perform bench presses for 15 repetitions of 1 set 40% of your 1-repetition maximum.
STRETCHING AS PART OF A TRAINING PROGRAM
2. Since flexibility is a major health factor and is required for a person to have a functional range of motion in his or her joints, stretching exercises should always be integrated into any conditioning program.
3. In order to gain larger, and permanent, amounts of flexibility at a joint, one would hold a stretch (as in static or isometric stretching below) for at least 30 seconds, up until 1 minute.
TYPES OF STRETCHING EXERCISES
A partner sustains a stretch for 10-30 seconds.
A stretch is sustained with one’s own power (such as holding your knee to your chest while standing) for 10-30 seconds.
Static stretching performed at a higher volume and at a lower intensity. An optimal dynamic stretching program would be 6 sets of 5 second stretching at a joint for a total of 30 seconds of stretching.
Static stretching against an immovable force or object, such as a wall.
Stretching by way of jerky and bouncing movements. This form of stretching is very unsafe in many situations and is highly discouraged.
6. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF):
A specialized form of stretching with a partner specifically trained in this method where one muscle is stretched passively, while the opposing muscle contracts against the force generated. This is said to be the most effective form of stretching.
This article is a simple overview of flexibility and does not cover many details. I will be following this up with very specific stretching articles in the coming weeks in order to deliver the best stretching programs one can undertake.