Monday, February 1, 2010

The Best Way to Stretch

Avery Faigenbaum, EdD College of New Jersey
Dr, Avery Faigenbaum
If you are one of those dedicated athletes or coaches that perform static stretching before your run or race-- you may actually be making yourself tighter and possibly decreasing your performance.

You may have it backwards.

According to the latest research, static stretching the kind done by most athletes before running, may put your muscles to sleep while dynamic stretching wakes up your muscles. According to Dr. Avery Faigenbaum (EdD, CSCS, FACSM at The College of New Jersey):
"The research is overwhelming on the potential benefits of a dynamic warm-up.
Unlike warm-up static stretching, a dynamic warm-up enhances motor unit excitability and improves kinesthetic awareness.      In other words, it gets the athlete's neuromuscular system 'turned on' for sports practice and competition.
     A well-designed dynamic warm-up can also set the tone for a training session and establish a desired tempo for upcoming activities. Since long-term static stretching (not performed during the warm-up) may improve performance, it is best to perform static stretching exercises after the training session during the cool down period."

The right warm-up should do two things: loosen muscles and tendons to increase the range of motion of various joints, and to literally warm up the body by increasing body heat and blood flow before beginning the workout or race.

Here are some good dynamic stretches to do before a workout or race:

1. Walking High Knees

2. Walking Straight Leg Kicks

3. Running Butt Kicks

4. Running Carioca (crossing one leg in front of the other)

5. Back Pedal

6. Arm Swings Forward and Back

7. Power Skip

8. Side Bend Over and Back

9. Handwalks

10. Alternating Toe Touches

11. Running/ warming up with a weight vest

For an illustration of some dynamic stretches (these are from the James Madison University strength site) before your workout or race :

Dynamic Stretch Courtesy of James Madison University
Here are some static stretches to do at the end of workouts (Also from the James Madison University strength site):
Classic Static Stretch
Written by Jack Heath

No comments: