Stretching – what, how and why?!
Stretching can sound like yet another thing we know we should probably do, but don’t!
Even if you commit to doing it, you’re not always sure you’re doing it right.
Do I need to stretch?
Latest research and thinking will always evolve. These are what I think we can agree on that’s true for stretching
- If you learnt how to do it at school over 20 years ago, it’s probably best to check out the latest techniques.A lot of what we were taught back then, is now seen as actually bad for you. Examples of these ‘old school’ stretches that could actually increase injury, are static stretching cold muscles, or bouncing stretches.
- There isn’t scientific consensus that stretching is definitely helpful. Some people seem to cope fine without it.
- A large amount of runners and coaches swear by it being extremely useful. It can increase flexibility and improve performance. I agree.
What’s the difference between static and dynamic stretching? When should I do it?
Currently best practice is to do:
– Dynamic stretches before exercise
– Static stretches after exercise
prepare your muscles and joints for moving. They are slow repetitive movements that take you through a range of motion. The aim is to get circulation to your muscles, help you move more efficiently and decrease risk of injury.
can be held longer (at least 15 seconds and up to 2 minutes each) as the muscles have been warmed up through exercise. The aim is to reduce muscle soreness.
I hope stretching will help your sport. Don’t push a muscle too far – stop if it hurts. You could injure it if you overstretch it – I have made this mistake myself.
Dynamic stretch examples
The video below (56 seconds) shows a couple of dynamic stretches that I do before running, cycling, even skiing. If you’re pressed for time, or new to running, these are the ones I would do.
Static stretch examples
You can see some of my post workout static stretches in the video below (1 minute 44 seconds).
Do you stretch? Which are your key stretches you can’t do without?