Warming up and cooling down,
Now lets be honest with ourselves, we don’t ever do them (Unless you're some sort of yoga chick/stretch addict) and if we do, they are half arsed (Excuse the language).
Now everyone always says, THEY’RE SOOOO IMPORTANT, but are they actually? What do they do? and what’s the bloody point eh?
Since the beginning of time (primary school) we have always been made to run laps, pull your foot to your bum and stretch your quads or lunge up and down the playground. But what should we actually be doing?
From playing netball since the age of 8 and competing in athletics and football I have seen all sorts of stretching drills. Even now, we all still static stretch before playing or do slow lunges or squats but we are actually all doing it wrong.
Static stretching should be, but isn’t necessary to be, kept to the end of the workout/game/run. Static stretching is the where a stretch is held for a certain amount of time (10-30 seconds but usually 10, because we are all a bunch of lazy bones). It aims to increase muscle temperature which increases neural (nerve) activation and joint range of motion (gradually being able to lift your leg in the air, higher and higher).
Now onto Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching is basically moving as you stretch, for example lunges and squats. Dynamic stretching is what you SHOULD be doing pre-workout/game/run.
What’s the point? Dynamic stretching:
Activates the muscles
Improves range of motion (as well)
Aids muscles memory
Enhances muscular power
Longer durations of dynamic stretching and activity have a positive response to the neuromuscular (nerves and the muscle systems) system which enhances performance. So basically, do these before starting exercise, start easy then progress.
Even if you don’t play a sport and you’re just an average gym goer, by incorporating dynamic stretches into your workout will aid your performance by activating your muscles to work faster and harder.
(do this, but keep alternating legs)
What do the sports scientists say?
Static stretching can actually produce significant decrements in the strength and power production of the stretched muscle groups
There is limited research to suggest that static stretching can reduce muscle soreness and injury risk
Static stretching, however, does increase range of motion within a joint, so include these in flexibility training
The optimal warm-up should include light-moderate intensity of aerobic activity such as running, cycling or stair master followed by various dynamic stretching and then completed with sport specific dynamic activities so if you’re going to do play netball then do squats because you jump in netball or do lunges, or if you’re just hitting the gym then practice light shoulder press actions before lifting like a beast.