Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

Stretching and the Warm up - Are You Confused?


Lately, I've been receiving a lot of questions referring to the latest studies and research findings, and one question that I receive most queries about concerns the role that stretching plays as part of the warm up.

Currently, there seems to be a lot of confusion about how and when stretching should be used as part of the warm up, and some people are under the impression that stretching should be avoided altogether.

This is a very important issue and needs to be clarified immediately. The rest of this article is dedicated to dispelling some common myths and misconceptions about stretching and its' role as part of the warm up.


What has Science got to say?

Most of the studies I've reviewed attempt to determine the effects of stretching on injury prevention. This is a mistake in itself and shows a lack of understanding as to how stretching is used as part of an injury prevention program and the warm up.

Stretching and its effect on physical performance and injury prevention is something that just can't be measured scientifically. Sure you can measure the effect of stretching on flexibility with simple tests like the "Sit and Reach" test, but then to determine how that affects athletic performance or injury susceptibility is near impossible.

One of the more recent studies on stretching supports this view by concluding;

"Due to the paucity, heterogeneity and poor quality of the available studies no definitive conclusions can be drawn as to the value of stretching for reducing the risk of exercise-related injury." (The efficacy of stretching for prevention of exercise-related injury: a systematic review of the literature, 2003, Weldon)

To put the above quote in layman's terms; there hasn't been enough studies done and the studies that have been done are not specific or consistent enough. For the most comprehensive assessment and conclusion of research done on the affects of stretching I suggest you have a read through the following article, "The Truth about Stretching." http://www.thestretchinghandbook.com/resources/articles/stretching-truth.htm


The Greatest Misconception

Confusion about what stretching accomplishes, as part of the warm up, is causing many to abandon stretching altogether. The key to understanding the role stretching plays can be found in the previous sentence. But, you have to read it carefully.

Stretching, as part of the warm up!

Here's the key: Stretching is a critical part of the warm up, but stretching is NOT the warm up.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that doing a few stretches constitutes a warm up. An effective warm up has a number of very important key elements, which work together to minimize the likelihood of sports injury and prepare the individual for physical activity.

Identifying the components of an effective and safe warm up, and executing them in the correct order is critical. Remember, stretching is only one part of an effective warm up and its' place in the warm up routine is specific and dependant on the other components.

The four key elements that should be included to ensure an effective and complete warm up are:

1. The general warm up

This phase of the warm up consists of 5 to 15 minutes of light physical activity. The aim here is to elevate the heart rate and respiratory rate, increase blood flow and increase muscle temperature.

2. Static stretching

Next, 5 to 15 minutes of gentle static stretching should be used to gradually lengthen all the major muscle groups and associated tendons of the body.

3. The sports specific warm up

During this phase of the warm up, 10 to 15 minutes of sport specific drills and exercises should be used to prepare the athlete for the specific demands of their chosen sport.

4. Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching involves a controlled, soft bounce or swinging motion to force a particular body part past its usual range of movement. The force of the bounce or swing is gradually increased but should never become radical or uncontrolled.

Please note; dynamic stretching carries with it a high risk of injury if used incorrectly. Dynamic stretching is more for muscular conditioning than flexibility and is really only suited for professional, well trained, highly conditioned athletes. Dynamic stretching should only be used after a high level of general flexibility has been established.

All four parts are equally important and any one part should not be neglected or thought of as not necessary. All four elements work together to bring the body and mind to a physical peak, ensuring the athlete is prepared for the activity to come.


So what conclusions can we make?

Stretching is beneficial, when used correctly. However, as with most activities there are rules and guidelines to ensure that they are safe, and stretching is no exception. Stretching can be extremely dangerous and harmful if used incorrectly.

Remember, stretching is just one very important component that assists to reduce the risk of injury and improve athletic performance. The best results are achieved when stretching is used in combination with other injury reduction techniques and conditioning exercises.

****************************

Article by Brad Walker. Brad is a prominent Australian sports trainer with more than 15 years experience in the health and fitness industry. Brad is a Health Science graduate of the University of New England and has postgraduate accreditations in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching. He also works with elite level and world champion athletes and lectures for Sports Medicine Australia on injury prevention.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to forward it to others, make it available from your site or post it on forums for others to read. Just make sure that this paragraph and URL are included. For more information and articles on stretching, flexibility and sports injury, visit The Stretching & Sports Injury Newsletter at; 101 Stretching Exercises


MORE RESOURCES:

ABC News

The Skinny on Nestlé's New Exercise in a Bottle Project
ABC News
The Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé is working on developing the lazy person's holy grail: an edible product that replaces exercise -- providing at least some of the benefits. But it will be a while before the magical potion gets approved by the U ...
Nestlé's "Exercise in a Bottle" Is The Product We've Been Dreaming of Since ...Bustle
Nestle developing exercise in a BOTTLE to create the ultimate diet drinkDaily Mail
Exercise in a Bottle Is Next Food Frontier for NestleBloomberg
Design & Trend -The Independent
all 67 news articles »


6 Reasons Why You Can't Out-Exercise An Unhealthy Diet
Huffington Post
"Consume excess calories and you have to counterbalance them," says Sara Haas, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "And it's hard to get enough exercise in to undo the calories you'll get in a double cheeseburger with French ...

and more »


New York Times (blog)

Does Exercise Really Make Us Smarter?
New York Times (blog)
Exercise seems to be good for the human brain, with many recent studies suggesting that regular exercise improves memory and thinking skills. But an interesting new study asks whether the apparent cognitive benefits from exercise are real or just a ...

and more »


Yahoo Health

Can You Out-Exercise Bad Eating Habits?
Yahoo Health
Well, while exercise can certainly help mediate the damage done by a less-than-healthy diet—granted you have a job and a life outside of the gym—there aren't enough hours in the day to work off the foods that a lot of guys eat in the name of that ...

and more »


Jazzercise owner says her business makes exercise fun
Heritage Newspapers
Jazzercise makes exercise fun, Bucher said. It offers its clients, men and women, cardio workouts, strength training using modern music and routines. “We are always coming up with new dance numbers to challenge the body,” Bucher said. “It's no longer ...



Discovery News

Exercise Plus Fasting May Boost Brain's Neurons
Discovery News
Forget what you've heard about "brain food"...turns out, the best food for your brain may be none at all. New research on intermittent fasting and exercise show some surprising brain benefits of depriving yourself of calories -- at least occasionally ...



Medical News Today

Running for exercise 'slows the aging process'
Medical News Today
The researchers recruited 15 men and 15 women with an average age of 69 who regularly ran or walked for exercise. For this study, "regularly" meant walking or running at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per workout, for at least 6 ...
Running Really Can Keep You Young, Study SaysHuffington Post
Why Running May Really Be The Fountain of YouthTIME
To Stay Energy Efficient As You Age, Keep On RunningNPR (blog)
RedOrbit -Headlines & Global News
all 89 news articles »


Nestle Working On 'Exercise in a Bottle' For the Gym-Averse
Tech Times
"The enzyme can help people who can't tolerate or continue rigorous exercise," says Kei Sakamoto, a scientist who researches diabetes and circadian rhythms at Nestle. "Instead of 20 minutes of jogging or 40 minutes of cycling, it may help boost ...



TWC News

Healthy Living: Exercise and Weight Loss
TWC News
"A lot of people have the misconception 'Hey, I'm exercising, I can eat whatever I want to.'" Charlotte YMCA Health and Wellness Director Erin Karp Agrees. "I think a lot of people feel that because they're starting to exercise, the scale is ...

and more »


Daily Mail

Exercise Might Not Help Some Type 2 Diabetics Control Their Blood Sugar ...
WebMD
"For many years we have been under the impression that exercise helps decrease insulin resistance in muscles," boosting blood sugar control, said Dr. Maria Pena, director of the Center for Weight Management at North Shore-LIJ's Syosset Hospital in ...
A fifth of type 2 diabetics will NOT benefit from exercise due to geneticsDaily Mail
Exercise Won't Help 20 Percent of Type 2 Diabetes Patients. Blame Their GenesHealthline
One in Five With Type 2 Diabetes Nonresponsive to ExerciseMedscape
Medical Daily -MedPage Today
all 30 news articles »

Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright © 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.