We all know the importance of warming up before physical activity. Whether you are going for a run, lifting weights in the gym or hitting the ice for a hockey game. A warm-up has long been part of an athlete’s pre-game routine to help increase performance and decrease injury potential. A good warm up has been recommended to prepare the body for action by increasing muscle temperature and priming both the cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems. Traditionally, a warm up has included some form of light aerobic exercise like jogging followed by stretching. In recent years there has been much research done in the field of stretching and the results are very interesting.
In the past, stretching was considered an important part of all warm-up routines to improve range of motion and flexibility and decrease the chance of injury. Static stretching which consists of stretching individual muscles or muscle groups to the point of slight discomfort and holding for 15-30 seconds was the preferred choice. Today there is a shift towards a more active approach known as dynamic stretching that involves movements through the full functional range of joint motion in a controlled and coordinated manor. Dynamic stretching more closely resembles the movements we perform during physical activity and doesn’t involve an isolated hold. This shift follows a substantial body of evidence which suggests that static stretches may impair performance when done before activities that require a large amount of power, strength or speed (e.g. Weight-training, Sprinting and Jumping activities).
Static isolated stretching may still play an important role in recovery or cool down from activity when the muscles are more extensible, warm and full of blood. Additionally, static stretching can be an important part of an injury prevention or rehabilitation program targeting a particular muscle imbalance that you may have, as identified by a qualified Sports therapist. Regular static stretching can still be useful but it appears the timing is important. Current research suggests that dynamic stretching should be utilized just prior to sporting activity as part of your warm up.
Make an appointment today with Osteopath Luke Fuller who can perform a musculoskeletal screen to identify any muscle imbalances or areas that require more flexibility. Luke can teach you the dynamic stretching exercises that professional athlete’s use, which will enhance your performance today.