Are You Stretching All Wrong?

Flexibility is probably the most important element of fitness. While strength is needed to perform activities of daily life, flexibility both improves your range of motion and decreases your risk of injury. For this reason, it's so important to stretch before any kind of workout--as you well know! But how are you stretching before your workouts? We all have that favorite Yoga pose that helps us to limber up (mine is Mountain Pose), or that simple stretching routine that loosens up our muscles and gets us ready to workout. Could you be stretching wrong? Is your stretch routine actually HINDERING your workout? If you are doing static stretches, the answer may be yes! [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="615"] Source:[/caption]

Static Stretches Reduce Performance

In 2008, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a study that proved static stretching can reduce your performance. 22 men and women participated in the study, all track athletes at NCAA Division I level. They performed a dynamic warm-up first, then either rested or performed static stretches. They then competed in three 40-meter sprints to determine their speed after both rest and static stretches. You guessed it: the athletes ran more slowly after completing the static stretches. It was a 5% reduction in speed, but for sprinters that can make all the difference in the world! So what does this mean for you? Simple: DON'T waste your time on static stretches! While they can help to limber up your muscles, those static stretches may actually be hindering your performance once you start working out. Instead, stick with dynamic warm-ups, such as:
  • Lunge with a twist
  • High kicks
  • T-Push-ups
  • Squat jumps
  • Jump lunges
  • Knee to chest
  • Arm circles
These exercises will help to warm up your muscles and get you ready to work hard, but WITHOUT reducing your performance like static stretches would.  
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