Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More on stretching

My posts on the stretching research often prompt some reaction.   Mike Robertson has a really helpful post which pulls together a lot of the research on stretching:  Q&A: Is Static Stretching Good?
It is not a simple as don't stretch, the issue is when and why:

This is perhaps the most important question – not only is it important that we choose the right type of stretch, but we also need to perform the right stretch at the right time.

For example, I love dynamic stretching – but doing it before bed isn’t a great idea. Who wants to be fired up and neurally primed right before bed?

Don’t answer that

Or imagine an elite athlete getting ready to hit the field – do they want to static stretch (and calm their nervous system and relax their muscles) right before they go out and sprint, run or cut explosively?

Here’s a general framework of when you should use each type of stretch:

  • Use static stretches immediately before bed. This will not only help you relax but calm the nervous system and promotes better sleep.  One exception could be to use static stretching before lifting sessions if the primary focus of your session/training block is improving mobility, or if you need to increase extensibility in a specific muscle group (i.e. the hip flexors).
  • Use dynamic stretches pre-workout, or as part of a mobility circuit throughout the day.
  • Use EQI’s immediately post-workout, and only on muscle groups or areas that have been found to be short or too stiff in relation to adjacent segments.

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