Sunday, March 15, 2009

To Stretch or Not to Stretch

This is an email that I received from Dr. Laurie Buob. She is a Chiropractor at Performance Wellness where I'm a patient. Enjoy!!
To stretch or not to stretch? That is the BIG question. It's hard to find the right answer since research has opened up a whole new can of worms. Certain types of stretching (dynamic, static) seem to be appropriate at certain times (pre/post training), for certain reasons (injury prevention/recovery).
What we know:
Types of stretching: Dynamic, Ballistic, Static, PNF, AIS.
Reasons behind stretching:
Injury prevention
Injury recovery
Increase flexibility
Increase performance
Reduce pain
So, how do you know what to do when? Based on research and clinical experience, here's a very brief synopsis. I have only chosen 2 forms of stretching.
Dynamic: Use dynamic stretching before you workout. Dynamic stretching gets your muscles ready for activity and is usually sport specific. It's also another way to warm up. Dynamic stretching involves repetitive movements to the end ranges of motion. For example: leg swings forward and backwards to work the hip flexors and extensors to gear up for running.
Static: Use static stretching after you workout and at any time during the day ONLY when you are warm(after showers, brief walk). Static stretching is recommended to increase flexibility and aid in injury rehabilitation. if doing static stretching to increase flexibility, It is advised to only stretch those areas that are tight and joints that are hypermobile (decreased range of motion). Also, to have permanent results, one must stretch a particular muscle for more than 30 seconds 4-5 times a day. Results will plateau around 6-7 weeks of constant stretching. Static stretching involves lengthening a muscle for an extended period on time.
Static stretching before a workout has been shown to decrease explosive performance. A prolonged stretch on a tendon can initiate a reflex mechanism to inhibit the muscle you are stretching. However, dynamic stretching has been shown to increase performance as it is hypothesized that dynamic stretching helps to coordinate sport specific movements.
More research is needed to determine if stretching prevents injuries and stretching for pain as well. The current research is contradictory.
Well, I hope this is insightful. So enjoy those walking forward reach downs and single leg knee hugs. Remember to stretch with variety!! Trainer Todd
You can find Dr Laurie Buob, D.C., M.S., ART & Graston at Performance Wellness (491-7772) off of Farwest and Mopac. Here is the link to their website

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