Stretching: Is it Helping or Hurting?

Stay healthy & stretch dynamically

Ever since we were kids, we were told to stretch before we played a sport, and as we get older, the stretching becomes somewhat of a distant memory. If we do stretch before a run, a quick five-minute routine seems to suffice, or stretching before or after a run. Questions have risen lately of static stretching versus dynamic stretching. Static stretches are exercises in which you stretch your muscle using body weight or opposing muscle groups and hold a gentle stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Stretching seems to make us feel good, and we think it may improve our performance. However, recent research now says that acute stretching (static) before exercise does not prevent injury, and may be counterintuitive. In reality, a “cold” muscle should never be stretched, but dynamic stretching after a brief warm-up should be the preferred method of stretching. The purpose of “warming up” is to increase body temperature thus increasing oxygen to the muscles and making them more flexible.

Dynamic stretching consists of functional based exercises which use sport specific exercises. Some common dynamic stretches are really drills. Arm swings, leg swings, side bends, toe touches. In dynamic stretching, no bouncing or jerky movements are used so don’t confuse it with ballistic stretching!! Sport specific stretching is available in many different routines, but light jogging or a comparable activity for 5-10 minutes is recommended. I recommend to my patients to stretch dynamically prior to event or activity followed by static stretching after the activity.

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