It is widely understood that how and when you stretch can affect your exercise performance. However, have you ever considered that the type of stretching can affect your performance as well?
A recent study concluded that a stretching routine with dynamic activity, stretching that utilizes momentum rather than standing still, can help enhance your workout. The study found that this type of warm up reduces muscle injuries and increases range of motion with inconsequential effects on athletic performance. This demonstrates that dynamic stretching will not wear you out or slow you down, and that it can even increase your performance.
The researchers, who looked at more than 200 studies of how stretching affects subsequent exercise, found the opposite to be true for static stretching, i.e. stretching while standing still. They determined that stretching without movement could actually inhibit the ability to “generate power,” or lower your flexibility. For instance, a static stretch, such as reaching down and touching your toes while standing, does not adequately loosen your hamstrings, making it harder to leap or jump during exercise.
However, it all depends on your workout of choice. A New York Times take on the study states that these results are applicable to those who are performing exercises that require great muscle force. Researchers at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital suggest dynamic stretching for athletes participating in sports such as basketball, soccer and tennis. These activities involve leaping, springing, and forceful muscle-ripping movements, which dynamic stretching can help by loosening the muscles and increasing range of motion. Runners and cyclists, on the other hand, may produce the same results by simply warming up with light jogging or pedaling.
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