What? Don’t stretch before I workout? What kind of nonsense is that?
It makes perfect sense to use the right type of pre-workout stretch.
The first thing we need to look at is the different types of stretches and how they apply to the different types of workouts you do.
There are several types of stretches believe it or not; but to keep this brief, we’ll look at the three basic types…
Static Stretching (SS)
This is the most common type of stretch and the one many think about first. Each stretch is held in a fixed position (slowly accomplished) for 30 seconds plus.
The goal of this type of stretch is to allow the muscles and connective tissues (fascia, tendons) to slowly lengthen.
Why Static Stretching may not be the best type of stretch prior to exercise…
SS may actually weaken or inhibit performance (exercise) because of the “length tension” relationship muscles have locally (origin to insertion or simply from A to B attachments on our skeletal system) and globally (how many muscles interacting together move our body in all three planes of motion, at various speeds).
There is no definitive evidence that SS prevents injury. There is evidence from several studies that suggests that SS may in fact be a contributing factor in musculoskeletal injury.
If muscles are too “lengthened” because of SS prior to exercise or athletic performance, this laxity around the joints (hypermobility) may be the actual cause of many injuries.
Ballistic Stretching (BS)
This is the type of stretching you may have seen your parents or grandparents doing. You’ve seen it.
Dad can’t seem to touch his toes and to get there he goes into an up and down pumping motion like a land oil rig trying to strike it rich.
This is the jerky bouncing type of stretch that can also lead to injury. Dad may have stretched his hamstrings out a bit but caused severe back spasms as a negative consequence.
Why Ballistic Stretching may not be the best type of stretch prior to exercise…
BS inhibits (prevents) the normal “stretch reflex” it needs to motor our body through time and space fluidly and under control.
Bouncy stretching movements like these can quickly overload the muscles and connective tissues to react quickly enough to prevent strains and tears.
I learned this lesson the hard way. While grabbing a piece of gym equipment, I tried pulling it to another location only inches away and POP!
My biceps on my right arm tore. Granted I wasn’t trying to use BS, but the concept is the same. Too much too soon doesn’t work well.
Dynamic Stretching (DS)
Because we want to warm our muscles up a bit before engaging in exercise or sports activities; DS is the best pre-exercise stretching to do.
Dynamic simply means moving. So, you’re moving into similar movement patterns for a particular exercise routine or athletic event. This is the general purpose of DS.
Why Dynamic Stretching may be the best type of stretch prior to exercise…
Our brain has an unbelievable way to communicate. Our vestibular sensory system (we have 7 sensory systems), consisting of the network between our brain and central nervous system.
It looks similar to a tree that has deep roots, a thick trunk, limbs, and many leaves at the ends of those limbs.
This branching out from our central nervous system throughout the body to various indicators that tell our brain where our body is in space and time (proprioception) is truly a miracle if you think about it.
Without going into a specific read about this, simply put…
It all works better together when you train it to. That’s right. From birth, this is a learned process until adulthood and beyond.
The sad truth is, we forget it when we stop playing and moving. So, we lose it because we’re not using it.
Tight hips for instance, caused from inactivity (sitting) lead to causing our lower back to perform movement that it isn’t supposed to, leading to lower back pain and other pathological issues.
Ok, enough of that. I got carried away there for a second. It is cool though uh? I digress.
DS is the way to go if you want to warm up sufficiently before exercise, activity, or athletic event. It will prepare your body to move and react the way it needs to that’s specific for what you need. Just just do it (don’t want NIKE calling me).
If you’d like to learn effective pre-workout stretches to maximize your movement potential, CLICK HERE and lets get started!