STRETCHING; Could the type of stretching you do be hurting you

Static stretching also known as stationary stretching is what we were all taught to do before exercising. This type of stretching involves holding an arm or leg in a fixed position.

Research has shown that static stretching can decrease the strength of muscles and the effect worsens for those who stretch this way for 90 seconds or more. In one study muscle power was measured and it was found that those who performed static stretching before working out had a decrease in explosive power. This means less power for sprinting or jumping and this is important if you are about to engage in an anaerobic explosive sport or exercise such as football or rugby.

Static stretching before exercising also doesn’t help to prevent an injury. Dynamic stretching or light warm repsbefore exercising is much more effective in preventing muscle injuries.

Dynamic stretching should be controlled movements such as lunges, swinging and rotating the legs, jumping jacks, and swinging the arms in a circular movements. These movements will increase the blood flow to the area in preparation for the work out.

In a study with Australian rugby players, it showed that those with chiropractic treatment were less likely to experience leg muscle strains. Hamstring injuries are the most common in running based sports. For all athletes, injury prevention should be vital. Regular Low back and pelvis manipulations as well as soft tissue therapy are important to prevent injury. When I was younger I was very much into heavy weight lifting and at that point I didn’t do any injury prevention treatment including post workout stretching. As a result, most of my muscles were incredibly tense and I had very limited range of motion for the spine and extremities. At that point of having limited range of motion and overly tense muscles, an injury is inevitable. This is exactly what happened to me during a squat. As I descended, I felt a pop in the lower left pelvic region. I had pain for a few months and had to lay off weight lifting. I later realized what I had done was have severe strain of the piriformis muscle and this caused mild pain on and off for years in addition to scar tissue. I later received the appropriate treatment and now its almost unnoticeable.

Static Stretching still has an important role. This type of stretching is useful after a workout to increase range of motion and flexibility, but when it comes to strength, speed and explosive movements for a sporting event, dynamic stretching before has shown to be much more effective.

References:
Scandinavian Journal of Medial Science Sports. 2013 March.
Simiel, Sarabon N, and Markovic G. “Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal Muscular Performance”?

Gergly JC. Acute effect of Passive static stretching in lower body strength in moderately trained men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2013.

The effect of sports chiropractic manual therapy intervention on the prevention of back pain, hamstring, lower limb injuries in semi-elite Australian rules footballers; A randomized controlled trial. BMC musculoskeletal Disorders. 2010.