According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, static stretching before a workout REDUCED lower-body strength by almost 23 percent! Remember: Stretching does more than just maneuver muscle. Your fascia (faw-shu) is that connective tissue surrounding all your muscle and organs, going through muscle to bone and forms one continuous sheet from head to toe! Fascia is what we call thixotropic. This means it will change forms when cold or warm. Like allowing Jell-O to sit in your hand too long, fascia also becomes fluid-like and maneuverable when warm. Thus, your muscles will ease into a stretch more easily if your body is warmed up. Specific stretches may be beneficial for different activities and times of the day. Here are some helpful tips to consider for getting the most out of your stretch. Dynamic stretching is constant movement of a muscle or body part. Building from small movements to larger movements may help muscle and connective tissue slowly warm and loosen without risk of tearing (i.e. toe raises to full-on squats). Dynamic stretching is best used pre-workout or when just rising in the morning. Static stretching (or holding a lengthened pose) is best used post-workout. Because your muscles are cold and stiff before much movement, trying to lengthen them in this state could cause injury. When used properly, static stretching enforces good muscle memory and promotes healthy blood flow to tissues after an activity.
Things to Remember
- During your stretch routine, breath deeply. This will also positively affect any mental and physical tension.
- Before stretching in the morning, move around for a bit to warm up muscles.
- Frequency is key. Even a few minutes a day can increase range of motion.
- Forgetting to stretch at all will decrease flexibility over time.
- Stretching may reduce risk of muscle injury.
- Stress relief. Muscle tightness is often associated with stress, therefore, relieving that tension may decrease stress levels.
- Remember if you can’t touch your toes, try stretching your quad muscles (front of thigh.) This may sound crazy, but tight quad muscles, not hamstrings, may actually be holding up the show.
- Muscles opposite of your discomfort area (back-chest, calf muscle-front of leg) are often tighter than the actual area of discomfort.