To Stretch or Not to Stretch
Stretching before exercise is a habit that has been drilled into us as children, but is it really necessary??? Some findings say yes and some no. It’s like the egg, sometimes the whites are good and sometimes you need the yellow for the egg to pack that nutrient punch! So, the jury is out but here is what I can tell you about stretching.
The idea behind the use of stretching is to bring blood flow to muscles and increase range of motion for exercise. Here is the thing, if you warm up on a tred mill the something occurs. Blood is brought to the joints and muscles to aid in movement without injury. There is even theories behind having tighter muscles can actually aid in the workout making the exercises more effective.
So stretching before exercise is not necessary... It does not help it may even worsen the sport your trying to play. The problem is the loosening effect of stretching on muscles and tendons which reduces the muscles ability to store energy and spring into action.
Instead of stretching you can warm up by doing the exercise you are going to preform slower. If you run then walk first. If strength training is your goal, start off with a lighter weight.
One can use stretching to improve flexibility and lengthens muscle tissues to improve alignment and create body awareness. If you really want to stretch do so after your workout As for myself when I perform a session I stretch first to relax the body and clients love it. Then I move to light core work in a circuit form which acts as a cardio warm up moving all joints. Once that is done then heavy lifting or the intense part of the conditioning takes place. Another way to warm up without putting your workout at risk is ballistic stretching which is a series of movements to warm the body. These movements are not held and can consist of arm circles and squats without weight. Yoga and Pilates are more beneficial so remember not all stretching is created equal and stretching just doesn’t mean holding a posture. Stretching means movement throughout a range of motion. Happy Stretching!!