Talking with clients, especially runners, I like to ask what kind of stretching you do?
So far there seems to be 3 main reoccurring answers;
• “I do a warm up” (including static stretches)
• “The first 5 miles is the warm up followed by static stretches post run”
• Lastly (I admire their honesty and wonder how they are not regularly injured),
“I don’t really do stretches”
So what do you do?
The different types of stretching can be confusing; static stretches are often in the form of held positions for 20-30 seconds with the aim to lengthen individual specific muscles. Dynamic stretches are active movements which mimic the sporting activity in all movement planes, aiming to increase the heart rate.
The debate over stretching questions whether static stretching as part of your warm up is of benefit.
Research and evidence from the sporting world has shown that static stretches are beneficial as part of your cool down, as they help to lengthen the muscular tissue and possibly limit the delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). On the other hand, research also suggests that static stretches held for longer than 60 seconds as part of your warm up can actually adversely affect muscle performance, pre-fatigue muscles and predispose you to injury.
So what does this mean for you?
Aim to spend up to 10 minutes increasing your heart rate and preparing your body for exercise, making sure that all movements are included, for example, at the hip, don’t just focus on flexion and extension, include abduction, adduction and medial and lateral rotation. If you are unsure about exercises, this link is a thorough warm up specific to running http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZTbMLgoIUk&feature=youtu.be.
Following exercise, make sure to cool down and do static stretches for the muscle used in the activity, for example runners need to include calves, tibialis posterior, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteals, obliques, hip flexors and lower back.
Warm up cool down mobility session
Type Dynamic Static Mobilise tissue and static stretch
Hold 1-2 seconds 20 -30 seconds Greater than 30 seconds (constant movement)
Why Aim to warm up muscles, Aim to relax the muscles, Mobilise congested and shortened
Prepare the muscles for exercise, lengthen muscle fibers, muscle tissue, increase ROM, increase neural firing to the reduce the onset of DOMS reduce muscle tension, muscle helping reaction time reduce the impact of your sport Increasing heart rate and blood on the tissue, maintain injury free flow to the muscles
If you are increasing your training mileage or trying to increase cadence for a PB, the combination of including maintenance massage (4-6 weekly) and a weekly mobility session into your training regime will help with these goals and reduce the risk of injury and fatigue.
A mobility session is a session where you can work on specific muscles that need strengthening, but more importantly lengthening muscles that are holding tension. Stretching combined with the use of a foam roller and also trigger pointing with a tennis ball is also key. Adding in a mobility session allows you to self treat your body in between massage sessions.
If you still need help, to learn what tension you are holding in your body and how I can help you, book a massage session with me, Gemma at Sarum Physio on Fridays …call 01722 415055 to book an appointment.