How many of you reading don’t stretch your bodies regularly? Do you remember the last time you intentionally stretched? I don’t mean that morning reach for the ceiling, or the cat stretch while you’re waking up in bed. I mean targeting specific muscles with stretching to keep them supple and elongated (as they should naturally be).
If you’re asking yourself whether you should be more intentional about stretching, then you’re probably not doing it often enough. Let’s read more about stretching and its value.
Our knowledge has changed
Knowledge in the fitness world and the adjoining healthcare spaces has drastically changed the way we’re looking at the purpose of stretching. For one thing, it was once an article of faith that stretching was the best way to avoid injury. We now know that’s not the case.
And static stretching (those stretches we hold for over 60 seconds) can reduce performance and strength. This has led to the movement toward dynamic stretching and the extensive use of foam rollers for warm ups and cool downs, as well as for improving flexibility.
But stretching is still the foundation of flexibility, so performing stretches for this purpose is the best thing you can do.
Not all stretches are a fit, though. Some stretches can contribute to the potential for injury in some sports. So, stretching is kind of a complicated thing. Let’s go through a couple of frequently asked questions.
How often should I stretch?
Important to note here is that stretching 7 days a week is no more effective than stretching only 5. But studies have shown that stretching, when practiced 6 days per week, knocked stretching only 2 – 3 days out of the park.
5 – 10 minutes per day, 5 days a week is probably about right. The stretches chosen should be purposely selected to compliment their “fit” to your chosen sport or activity.
How long should a stretch be held?
As pointed out above, we’re now finding that static stretches of 60 seconds or more can negatively impact strength and performance. Holding a stretch for about 30 seconds is the sweet spot. It has the same effect, without effecting performance.
That said, static stretching for long term flexibility is still the gold standard. As I warned you, stretching is a complicated subject and one that’s apparently on a lot of people’s minds right now for that reason. Take care when researching your stretching questions online. Make sure you’re sourcing someone qualified to offer an opinion.
Static stretching is also the way forward for improving joint mobility. Last year, the International Journal of Sports Medicine did a study on the subject and their finding was that static stretching is the winner, against all the contenders out there, including dynamic stretching.
Support for athletes
Back & Body Medical New Jersey is a multi-disciplinarian clinic, offering personalized pain relief for all kinds of athletes. We support our patients with chiropractic, acupuncture, sports medicine and physical therapy.
If you’re wondering about stretching and whether your regimen could be more efficient, come talk to us.