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To Stretch or Not to Stretch!

Posted Dec 12 2008 2:51pm
Stretching prior to exercise helps prevent muscular injury, right? That is not what the current trends in scientific data indicate. On the contrary, studies show an increase in injury with pre-exercise flexibility training.

First, let’s differentiate stretching from a warm-up. It’s crucially important to do a warm-up before a workout. A warm-up starts out slowly and gradually and systematically recruits muscles which will be used later on in the workout. A proper warm-up increases blood flow to the muscles and increases the body’s temperature. It prepares the ligaments, tendons, nervous and cardio vascular systems for the upcoming exercises. <?xml:namespace prefix = o />


Stretchingincreases range of motion, reduces stress, provides relaxation, and increases muscle function. But, the conclusive evidence from the research is: benefits from stretching are best derived after your warm-up and again after your entire workout session.

There are several types of stretching techniques but the most common are– static, dynamic, ballistic, active and, passive.

A static stretchis a muscle extension taken to its fullest length and held for an elongated period of time; minimum 20 to 30 seconds.

Dynamic stretchesare controlled movements done through a full range of motion, like big arm circles.

Ballistic stretchinguses momentum and bouncing to extend the length of muscle beyond its normal range of motion. This type of stretching can be damaging to the muscles and connective tissue and potentially cause injury.

An active stretchis a held position which uses no outside force or assistance to maintain the posture, one simply uses the body’s own force from opposing muscles. Many Yoga poses require active stretching.

A passive stretchallows the muscles to relax into position by the assistance of a partner or apparatus. An example of a passive stretch would be a straight leg pull while you lie on your back, reach the leg toward the ceiling and clasp the hands behind the leg for increased lengthening of the muscle.

Clarita and all our teachers at Personal Best practice proper stretching techniques for all types of training modalities. Our goal is to help you maximize the elasticity of your muscles and ultimately improve their functionality. But most of all, we want you to have a fun workout within the confines of safety.

As you ladies (and gentlemen) prepare your bodies for the long arduous Avon Walk for Women’s Breast Cancer always keep in mind the need for a proper warm-up followed by stretches for your calves, legs, and hips. Those are the muscles you’ll be using throughout the walk. Good luck and be safe!

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