Here comes the season when you can just leave your jackets in the closet while heading outdoors to enjoy the longer, warmer days ahead. With summer on the horizon, many of us are already engaged in physical activities made better by the fresh air, whether it be going for a run, playing a game of tennis, soccer, golf or beach volleyball. Some of us can get a little rusty over the winter and think a good long stretch before pounding the pavement is the thing to do, but be mindful of the type of stretching you do!
Recent studies have come to the conclusion that it is best to do a warm-up that complements the type of movements you’ll be doing in your workout or game, but with a slightly greater amplitude of range of motion.
Dynamic stretching is considered to be far more beneficial than the standard old static stretching our high school gym teacher used to tell us to do. Dynamic stretching consists of controlled movements of your limbs and trunk taken in ease to the limits of your range. It improves body awareness, neuromuscular control and functional flexibility. Furthermore, it increases body temperature far more effectively than static stretching. some examples of these are knee ups, butt kicks, side lunges arm swings etc. etc. There are many examples available on You Tube but use your common sense and if in doubt, talk to your fitness or health care provider.
As for static stretching, which can be defined as stretching a muscle until there is resistance and holding that stretch for a specific amount of time ( usually 20-40 seconds) , studies show that it tends to have a negative impact on athletic performance, by hindering the capacity of the muscle to produce force* for even up to an hour! Holding a stretch position doesn’t help prepare for exercise as much as it does for increasing your potential range of motion. Static stretching is best done after the workout, as part of the cool-down, or as just an activity by itself.
Sometimes muscles feel restricted to the point where any amount of stretching just doesn’t provide relief. Areas of adhesion in the tissues can restrict normal physiological movement and be resistant to lengthening. This is when you need to bring out the foam roller to provide a little massaging compression. Fascial release products like “The Stick” and “Acuball” and many such others are readily available in stores now and are great for self- care at home.
And of course, your Massage Therapist can help too! Try scheduling a massage treatment near or on the day of your most intensive workouts. A massage afterwards can help reduce post- exercise inflammation ans speed recovery**
Cheers to health!
Linda McLaren RMT