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Stretches as part of your exercise routine

Today I would like to talk about ways of improving your times and fitness levels. One of the biggest things I get asked about is stretching and does it work. Yes it does would be my answer as long as you are doing the right type of stretching.

In recent years stretching has been somewhat discredited by different people and institutes. It has been my experience in the clinic though that those who stretch regularly and properly suffer far less injuries than those who do not stretch or who stretch incorrectly. From my own experience, articles I have read and from athletes I have spoken to a good combination of dynamic and static stretching when used at the right time can have a big impact on increasing flexibility and improving performance, especially for new runners.

Dynamic movement stretches are designed to take a joint or a muscle through a challenging range of repetitive motion while moving a body part further with each repetition. It is never done at full speed more like 50-60% of normal speed increasing your range of motion with each repetition. This helps warm and stretch the muscles prior to the commencement of exercise, it also reduces stiffness in the joints you are using. This will also aid in the reduction of overuse injuries. Dynamic stretching is ideal prior to exercise to prepare the joints for movement and muscles for optimal activation.

Static or sustained stretches are designed to simply stretch and hold a position for a joint or a muscle. The focus is on relaxing the area being stretched by simply holding it in this stretched position for a period of time. Most research says holding the position for 30-60 seconds increases the athlete’s flexibility in the tissue. Strangely though doing this prior to an activity can actually inhibit a muscle’s ability to fire and move optimally.

So to summarize, if you are going to be engaging in sports, incorporate into your warm up some dynamic stretching routines, this will allow you to work out stiffness in the joints and loosen your muscles, readying them for the task ahead. After your workout is complete use static stretching to help keep your muscle flexibility and reduce the risk of DOMS in the days that follow.

If you would like to learn more on any of this or need help, please feel to PM me!

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