Are Your Stretching Techniques Putting You at Risk?

We’ve all been told that stretching before activities such as organized sports, running or aerobics classes is a good idea.  Stretching is supposed to decrease injury and has health benefits of its own such as the ability to increase your flexibility.  However, a recent study concluded that certain types of stretching may be deceiving.  In the past, stretching was streching and it was a good thing.  Today researchers are finding that certain types of stretching should be used at certain times during activity.

Two Types of Stretching

There are two types of stretching – static and dynamic.  Static stretching involves reaching forward to a point at which your body feels a tightness or strain and then holding it for a set period of time.  Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, involves moving parts of your body and then slowly increasing your reach or the speed at which you are moving.

Streched muscles don’t seem to spring back as quickly as unstretched muscles.  Therefore, the streched muscles that were stretched via a static method tend to be more sluggish – not a good thing if you’re about to run an important race. 

How Should you Warm Up

According to the new study, athletes should warm up with dynamic stretching so that power is not reduced.  Static stretching can be used later in the workout – either as the cool down or once the heavy activity is over.  Injury can still be prevented this way and it also prepares the body for future activity.  In addition, static stretching is beneficial to one’s flexibility.