Monday, April 26, 2010

Stretching and YOGA!!!

There's a reason we do dynamic stretching before the workout and static after. The old presumption that static stretching primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It may actually weaken them. Static stretching before a workout can decrease muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. The muscle becomes less responsive and stays weakened for up to 30 minutes after stretching, which is not how an athlete wants to begin a workout. A well-designed warm-up starts by increasing body heat and blood flow. Warm muscles and dilated blood vessels pull oxygen from the bloodstream more efficiently and use stored muscle fuel more effectively. They also withstand loads better. The correct dynamic warm-up should then do two things: loosen muscles and tendons to increase the range of motion of various joints, and literally warm up the body.
Although static stretching isn't recommended before the workout, it's still very important and has it's place. Static stretching after a workout helps reduce post-workout muscle fatigue, and soreness. It also increases flexibility and is useful in relieving spasms in muscles that are healing after an injury. Incorporating dynamic AND static stretching into your workout will benefit you the most and produce the best results.
Here are the definitions of the four main types of stretching:
Dynamic stretching is a slow, controlled movement of a muscle. Consisting of arm and leg swings it also incorporates movements that mimic a specific sport or exercise in an exaggerated yet controlled manner. They are often performed during the warm-up or in preparation for a sports event.
The static technique involves passively stretching a muscle to the point of mild discomfort by holding it in a maximal stretch for an extended period.
PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) techniques involve a partner actively stretching the participant by some combination of altering contraction and relaxation of both agonist and antagonist muscles. Some of the different PNF techniques used include slow reversal hold, contract relax, and hold relax. PNF stretching usually involves a 10 second push phase followed by a 10 second relaxation phase, typically repeated a few times. PNF stretching is capable of producing greater improvement in flexibility compared to other techniques. Its disadvantage is that it typically requires a partner, although stretching with a partner may have some motivational advantage for some individuals.
The oldest technique is the ballistic stretch which makes use of repetitive bouncing movements. It has been virtually abandoned by almost all experts in the field due to safety concerns.

Since we're on the topic of stretching, I just wanted to give a little reminder about the free YOGA class that Briar teaches. It's every Thursday morning at 7am & it's open to the public, not just members. If I'm not working at the fire station I'm at Briar's class. She does an excellent job and works with all skill levels, especially the inflexible! You'll be amazed how much yoga can improve your workouts. There are many other benefits as well: Increases flexibility, lubricates the joints, ligaments and tendons, massages the organs of the body, detoxifies, tones the muscles, and increases strength & posture just to name a few. Stop by Thurday mornings, you'll thank yourself!
(Info from this post came from- Stretching: The Truth By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS)

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