Monday, July 27, 2009

Static Stretching

Over the last few years there has unfortunately been a bad cloud sitting over static stretching and I think our ignorance as coaches is directly hurting atheltes. There was some research done regarding static stretching and power output I'm not sure how long ago, but basically the series of studies showed that power output in a vertical jump (or other maximal power related activity) was decreased after static stretching was performed. This is a classic example of a fad because at the time, Strength and Conditioning coaches looked at this research and decided static stretching was a thing of the past and should be scrapped because it was decreasing athlete's power output. As a result came the invention of a dynamic warm-up which became the new and improved method of stretching a muscle through it's entire range of motion.

Now, dynamic stretching is very important in preventing injury in power related activities and don't get me wrong, a dynamic warm-up needs to be performed, but a lot of experts in the field are now looking back at this old research and sadly living with the effects of our over-reaction away from static stretching- atheltes with increasingly tight muscles. There is plenty of evidence showing that tissue length is improved more significantly and for a longer duration when held at least 30 seconds. This is static stretching!

Our lack of emphasis on static stretching over the years has most likely caused plenty of imbalances within the body and resulted in a lot of injured athletes for the simple fact that research was published (with unrealistic methods) with results showing the dynamic method of stretching was better for creating power in these specific activities. In order to prepare our clients or atheltes for lifelong success and reduced incidence of injury, we need to incorporate static stretching.

In the grand scheme of things, static stretching would most likely come before a dynamic warm-up and after foam rolling. Yes, thats right, you will static stretch a cold muscle. This is also done to promote long term tissue elasticity. When a muscle is warm of course it will stretch, so you will not be getting the same benefits as stretching a cold muscle. Lastly, you need to stretch all muscle groups equally, this means stretches that feel good for you and ones that don't.

Thank you for reading and please come back tomorrow

The Effect of Static Stretch and Warm-up Exercise on hamstring length Over the Course of 24 Hours , Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy Vol 33, Number 12, Dec 2003. P 727-733

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