Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why I'm Still Stretching

Stretching has gone out of fashion in recent years.  Formerly touted as a way of improving your workout and preventing injuries, the practice, particularly static stretching, has been shown in some studies to decrease power in activities such as running and jumping and to have no benefit in preventing injuries.  The new thinking is that workouts should be preceded by a warm-up, such as jogging in place, and ballistic stretches like goose-stepping.  Some recommend avoiding static stretching altogether on the grounds that it tends to tighten muscles, while others would give it a role in a post-workout routine.  The current situation was discussed in a New York Times blog post by Gretchen Reynolds.

For a few months I tried ballistic stretching before working out on the elliptical and I was not impressed.  It did not raise my heart rate high enough to prepare me for the workout nor did it improve my flexibility by extending my range of motion.  These days I do a warm-up consisting of jumping jacks and jogging in place; I don’t do any stretching at before a workout.  In the evenings, especially on days when my muscles are sore from resistance training, I use a foam roller, then do a series of resistance stretches.  These exercises, which I learned from Anne Tierney and Steve Sierra, involve pulling against the stretch which is supposed to avoid tightening the muscle.  Stretching makes me more comfortable, more relaxed, and probably lets me sleep better.  

The stretches I learned in years of yoga classes helped me to recover full range of motion after having a frozen shoulder.  I am now applying the same type of technique to my hands, which have scar tissue at the knuckles because of arthritis.  I’ve been in enough yoga classes to believe that what happens to the body happens to the mind as well.  A calm, relaxed body is probably conducive to an open, percipient mind.  New research also shows that a flexible body can mean flexible arteries, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of cardiac problems, findings that are of great interest to me because of my family history of heart disease. 

1 comment :

  1. There is nothing wrong doing stretching. It benefit a lot to us. I had a great time reading this post. Thank you.

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