So stretching and sports are always an interesting issue. Should we stretch directly after exercises? or are we better off waiting a few hours on stretching out later in the day? The truth is something we will probably never really know but it makes sense to separate dynamic stretching to before a workout and save static stretching for after.
Dynamic stretches are those done with motion where we move muscles without holding the position for too long. This helps to fire up muscles and get them ready for exercise.
This form of stretching prepares the body for physical exertion and sports performance. In the past it was the practice to undertake static stretching before exercise. Dynamic stretching increases range of movement, blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues prior to exertion. Increasingly coaches and sports trainers are aware of the role in dynamic stretching in improving performance and reducing the risk of injury.
Meanwhile static stretching, the more old school method of sitting and holding through a stretch for 10-20 seconds each major muscle group after a workout. Helping our bodies flush away lactic acid, reduce blood levels of adrenaline, lets resting heart rate return and reduces the amount of muscle soreness the following day.
Stretching is something we shouldn’t ignore especially when doing serious sports. As we age our muscles and joints become less and less elastic therefore injuries are more likely to occur even if you are fairly fit. Take for example playing sports I find a quick ankle, knee, wrist and shoulder warmup invaluable for injury prevention when playing tennis or soccer. If neglected these joints ache/hurt for days after. This at least makes it worth stretching and mobilising the key muscles groups you are using for your chosen activity before you start.
After exercise focusing on static stretching of larger muscles like the hamstrings, chest, quads, back and shoulders is probably a good idea to flush the muscles and help them recover.
So just a quick reminder to stretch before/after strenuous activity. With dynamic stretching and mobility being essential before and static stretching for 10-20 seconds on larger muscle groups after.
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