statement, "Fitness may be an important, modifiable risk factor"
is very important. It simply means that age, weight, and conditioning
of the study subjects may be an important factor facilitating the injuries in
Based on the
way some have written about this study, it's okay to run a 100 meter sprint
full speed without stretching beforehand. Now, this may be possible for a small
number of lean, young army recruits in New South Wales. However, does anyone
believe that a powerful, muscled-up NFL running back, or middle-aged and older
adults can run a sprint cold without leaving both hamstrings laying on the
track? Don't think so...
...and the full body of research
Think about it;
if an out-of-shape couch potato (with just enough muscle to change channels)
performs high-intensity, fast-twitch exercise, he may get injured ...
pre-stretched or not.
This is why
researchers in 2003 concluded, after researching all of the studies on this
subject, "no definitive conclusions can be drawn..." In short, there needs to be a body of
research based on age, weight, conditioning, and the study needs to be
performed for the specific sport and type of exercise before life-changing
conclusions are drawn.
is great for you! Don't let some writer using sensationalism to sell a story to
a magazine deter you from stretching.
show that prolonged stretching (in the form of yoga) with moderate aerobic
exercise and diet control will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverse
hardening of the arteries (20 percent regression) in adults with proven
coronary atherosclerotic disease.
year in a yoga program, participants lost weight, reduced cholesterol, and
improved their exercise capacity, (Retardation of coronary atherosclerosis
with yoga lifestyle intervention, 2000, Manchanda).
If you have
time for yoga class, or your martial arts training emphasizes stretching,
that's great. Keep it up! But if you're not attending karate or yoga classes,
then the Ready Set Go Fitness 10-Minute Stretching Routine may be for
dynamic stretching before games
Researchers show that
athletes should not perform prolonged stretching routines before playing a game
because it temporarily slows muscle activation. Dynamic stretching - Neck
Circles, Arm Swings, Knee Rotations - may be better for
Prolonged stretching (stretch-and-hold "static" stretching)
slightly decreases strength for up to an hour after stretching by slightly
impairing muscle activation. (Reduced strength after passive stretch of the
human plantar flexors, 2000, Fowles).
stretching builds flexibility and should be performed regularly, just not
immediately before a big game.
as a Warm-up
warming up prior to anaerobic training is an absolute rule - never to be broken
- stretching can be combined (multi-tasked) as part of the warm-up.
The goal of
the warm-up is to get the blood flowing and raise body temperature (one degree)
prior to high-intensity workouts and athletic competitions.
flexibility are dependent on the duration of stretch-hold position, and
researchers show the best stretch-hold position (for time-spent) is 30 seconds.
(The effect of time on static stretch on the flexibility of the hamstring
muscles, 1994, Bandy). "Best" means optimal results for time-spent. You can
get positive results with 2 minute stretch-holds, but 30 seconds yields
move slowly into the fully stretched-out position and hold it 30
seconds. Also, move just as slow out-of the the stretch-hold position. This
type of stretching produces gains in flexibility, but it can cause injury, if
you don't listen to your body and move in slow motion.
1. The best way to build flexibility is static stretching. And using
the 30 second stretch-hold is shown to produce great results.
2. Static stretching can be used as part of a warm-up for training,
however, static stretching will slightly slow you down for an hour afterwards
so examine your training goals.
3. Dynamic stretching (arm swings, hip rotations, toe touches) will
aid in the warm up process by increasing flexion in the joints and increasing
body temperature. This method is preferred before athletic competition.
Have a great
Phil Campbell, M.S., M.A.,
Author Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness