Everyone knows that they should stretch and warm-up before exercise to help increase performance and minimise injury, but how many people actually know HOW to effectively warm-up and what type of stretching is appropriate for the desired result???
Stretching; what is good and what is bad?
When it comes to stretching, there has been much research done in recent years with some very interesting results.
Consists of stretching individual muscles or muscle groups to the point of slight discomfort and holding for 15-30 seconds is the most commonly performed, however there is now a substantial body of evidence which suggests that static stretches may impair performance when done before activities that require explosive power.
It does however play an important role in the recovery phase of exercise as well muscle rehabilitation with the correction of muscle imbalances. This means that static-stretching is still an integral part of your health maintenance, but should not be used directly before exercise.
Involves movements through the full functional range of joint motion in a controlled, coordinated and specific manor that more closely resembles the motions that the muscles are likely to repeat during the sport/exercise you are to perform. Dynamic stretching also includes constant motion throughout the warm-up, which maintains the core body temperature, whereas static stretching can see a drop in temperature of several degrees. As such, the research suggests that dynamic-stretching is more effective when utilized immediately prior to sporting activity as part of your warm up.
Warm-up Routines Increase Performance!
A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared two stretching warm-up protocols in female soccer and rugby players. In this study, each athlete participated in 3 different test sessions. Each session was begun with a different warm-up routine. One session warm-up was 10 mintues on a stationary bicycle. Another session began with 10 minutes on a stationary bicycle followed by traditional static-stretching. The other session was begun with 10 minutes on a stationary bicycle followed by a dynamic-stretching routine. In each of these test sessions, after the warm-up, vertical jump flight time and a measurement of explosiveness (reactive strength index) was measured.
The results of this study found that the athletes performed significantly better on their vertical jump flight time and explosiveness tests after performing the dynamic-stretching routine, when compared with the other two warm-up routines.
Therefore this study concludes that a warm-up routine with dynamic-stretching can greatly improve the performance of athletes, especially in sports requiring jumping and explosiveness (Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball).
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1. Werstein KM,LundRJ. The effects of two stretching protocols on the reactive strength index in female soccer and rugby players. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jun;26(6):1564-7.
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