Thursday, July 12, 2012

Is Stretching Really Necessary?

Stretching is an activity that we all know is beneficial to us but it's often overlooked.  Stretching is necessary to a body in motion in order to help prevent injury and prepare the muscles for work. However, stretching is not a warm-up, in fact, stretching requires a warm-up.  Stretching when your body is not warmed up can cause tiny tears in your muscle and also make you more prone to injury.

Before you start we're going to cover a few guidelines for you to keep in mind:
  • Stretch warm muscles, stretching cold muscles can cause injury
  • Stretch slowly to minimize risk of injury
  • Stretch often (once a week is not going to cut it)
  • Stay relaxed
  • Focus on the muscles that need the most attention, if you have a muscle that's tight try to stretch it 3-5 times a day until it starts to feel better
Things to avoid:
  • Try not to bounce (ballistic stretching) while stretching, depending on your flexibility, it has the potential to cause problems
  • Don't forget to hydrate, aim for at least two litres of water per day
  • Don't overdo it, if it hurts dial it back a bit and ease into the stretch slowly
  • You don't have to stretch out your entire body, your routine should reflect your personal needs
For maximum results, try to perform each stretch two or three times to ensure you get the most out of your routine. Try to make stretching a part of your exercise routine. It will help put you in the right frame of mind before exercise and help you relax afterwards.

References from the SIRC Collection

1. Blackburn K. Home stretches save back from pain: fitness tips by Kelly Blackburn. Golf Digest. January 2003;54(1):40.
2. Foster M. 13 Tips for Stretching Sanity. Massage & Bodywork. October 2005;20(5):58-59.
3. Golden A, Tierney N. Don't Forget to STRETCH. Volleyball. October 2011;22(8):24-27.
4. The Impact of Stretching on Sports-Injury Risk and Performance. Athletic Therapy Today. November 2006;11(6):66-69.
5. Stopka C. Increasing Student Flexibility--The Ultra- Stretch Way!. Palaestra. March 2009;24(4):31-35
6. Woods K, Bishop P, Jones E. Warm-Up and Stretching in the Prevention of Muscular Injury. Sports Medicine. September 2007;37(12):1089-1099.

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