The TRUTH About Stretching

Research shows that certain types of stretching before a workout may actually do more harm than good. The American College of Sports Medicine advised against it prior to workouts or competitions. When we talk about exercise, we usually focus on what happens during the workout: The proper form, the number of repetitions, engaging the correct muscles, and so on – all elements of a successful routine. But, if you’re not following the right steps before you exercise, you might just be sabotaging your results and weakening your muscles. But, when people hear about those studies, they’re often confused: “Does this mean stretching is actually bad? Okay, guess I’ll skip it altogether.” There are two types of stretching…static and dynamic. “Static Stretching” is the definition of what generally comes to mind when we imagine stretching: Holding a pose for a 20-30 seconds. But research discovered that static stretching before a workout doesn’t adequately warm the muscle, and in fact has the following negative results:

  • Weakens the muscles for up to 30 minutes after stretching (athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all)
  • Decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent
  • Reduces strength in the leg that’s not being stretched, most likely because the central nervous system rebels against the movements.

The right warm up needs to both warm up the body and lubricate muscles and tendons.  The best way to do this is with “Dynamic Stretching.” These stretches are actually specific movements that loosen up muscles, increasing blood flow and body temperature. Today, I’ll guide you through a 5-min warm-up that uses dynamic stretching to warm muscles, and dilate blood vessels so your body can  pull oxygen from the bloodstream more efficiently and use stored muscle fuel more effectively.

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