There is a belief among people who do sports that it necessary to stretch after workout. It should guarantee larger flexibility and decrease the muscle soreness on the next day. What kinds of stretching are there? When should we stretch? Is it such a good idea to stretch right after training?
There is static and dynamic stretching.
The first one is better known than the latter. Static stretching is based on holding one position for 20-30 seconds. You can do front bend, bringing head to chest, lunges, legs wide apart and bending upper body to legs.
It is commonly believed that stretching increases flexibility and prevents from injuries. This process activates the Golgi tendon organs (GTO), which are placed in the skeleton muscles fibers and tendons. In order to relax efficiently the muscle groups, it's important to keep one position for some time (about 30 seconds).
When is it good to stretch staticly?
Scientists think that sports people should not do the prolonged static stretching before important competitions or key training sessions, because it slows down the activation of muscles for another hour.
Static stretching may decrease strength and speed of muscles. Moreover, when it is done before workout, it may increase the risk of injuries. Static stretching literally makes the muscles less active.
There has been an experiment, which proved that competitors who did static stretching before the run test per 20 metres (electronic measurement) had their time 5% worse than those who did not stretch.
Doing static stretching after workout may also prolong the time of after-workout recovery and expose us on the higher risk of injuries. When the muscles and nervous system are tired, it's easy to cause damage and overload of muscle fibres by holding their tension for 30 seconds, or more.
Static stretching done during separate classes will cause the best advantages for our body.
The other kind of stretching is dynamic stretching. Opposite to the previous one, it is performed with full range of motion.
Dynamic stretching uses the active movement of particular parts of the body within their mobility. It is used to wake up and warm up the body, as well as stretch it.
This method of stretching includes exercises done in sets of about 10 repetitions. The movements have to be fast and short, but fluent and in full range of motion. It can be, e.g. long lungest with the upper body twist towards the leg in front.
Dynamic stretching improves stability and posture. It is very good before workout as a preparation and warm up for further effort. There is lower risk of injuries when the body is well warmed up. The efficiency of sprint, jumps, as well as strength workouts is much better after dynamic warm up.
To sum up, despite common belief which promotes stretching after workout, static stretching both, before and after training is not advised.
The best advantages for our body will be using static stretching as an individual training session. However, before the proper workout, it's good to use dynamic stretching.