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The Truth About Stretching

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Having worked out in a variety of commercial gyms over the years, I see people
making all kinds of mistakes with their warm up without them even realizing it.
Many times people may be setting themselves up for increased chances of
injuries and decreased performance by simply doing what we’ve all been told to
do – stretching before exercising.
Static stretching, the kind of stretch that’s done where a person forces their
muscles into a stretched position and holds it there, is generally counter
productive when done before a workout for the target muscle group.
Instead, dynamic stretches like arm and leg swings are generally better before a
workout, and other forms of stretches are best done on a need-to-do basis after
training or on their own.
Yoga or a stretching routine for a specific sport like martial arts are fine on their
own, but realize that stretching should be done on a need-to-do basis based on an
individual’s needs. Getting a particular muscle too limber when it actually needs
to be tighter for instance would increase the chance of injury.
Also, forcing the body to stretch beyond where it’s comfortable, such as sticking
a barbell on someone’s back and making them squat as deep as possible even if
it’s beyond what their body is comfortable doing, can lead to injuries.
The body is smart, and if it’s limiting a range of motion, there’s usually a good
reason for it. So if you find there’s an exercise you simply lack the range of
motion to do properly – don’t do it!
Here’s a good article on dynamic warm ups that are better than traditional static
stretches:
www.builtlean.com/2011/04/06/dynamic-stretching-routine-best-full-bodywarm-
up
I have personally used and like Elastic Steel stretching dvds at elasticsteel.net
which are targeted towards martial artists, but good for anyone wanting to
increase flexibility.

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