Maybe we’ve been doing this all wrong.


This look familiar? It should. It’s the way that most of us have been taught to loosen up and stretch before any sort of vigorous physical activity. It goes all the way to my PE days back to Mowat Middle School. It’s what we’ve all known. But some new research says it may be absolutely the wrong thing to do before you exercise.

“If you’re like most of us, you were taught the importance of warm-up exercises back in grade school, and you’ve likely continued with pretty much the same routine ever since. Science, however, has moved on. Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’ warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds — known as static stretching — primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them. In a recent study conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. Also, stretching one leg’s muscles can reduce strength in the other leg as well, probably because the central nervous system rebels against the movements.”

Take a look at this NY Times article called “Stretching: The Truth” (you must register, but it’s free) and read much more about this. There’s also a video in the sidebar and some graphics that give you what is supposed to be a better way to dynamically warm up your muscles. Make sure you watch the guy do “the Spider.” If I pull off that move before playing ball with the guys, they’re gonna think I have lost my mind.

Published in: on February 13, 2009 at 10:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

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