Friday, 6 August 2010

To stretch or not to stretch Part 2

Stretch or not to stretch Part 2

Post Exercise Stretching

For most, stretching after exercise seems to be an unnecessary and energy zapping chore, needlessly increasing the length of their workout or sport. 

However, stretching after exercise is vital if long term participation in exercise and sport is required. 

Muscles work in pairs. Depending on the angle and force of resistance, one muscle will shorten while the other lengthens. The muscle that shortens is usually the one under strain and it is these muscles that require stretching after exercise. 

Due to the repetitive nature of sport, the muscles that regular shorten under load can, over time, adaptively shorten.  This is why stretching them afterwards is so important. By not doing so you will find your flexibility and mobility significantly reduces, often resulting in either constant stiffness or injury. Unfortunately, the consequence of this does not show at the time, a little like smoking in that sense, so it doesn't seem that important. Trust me it is!! I see clients everyday, presenting with long term injury and stiffness all of which could have been significantly reduced or even prevented had they stretched throughout their early years of sport. 

So, the next time you finish your exercise or sport leave five minutes to stretch out those worked muscles. Hold them for at least 15 seconds to maintain flexibility or up to 30-45 seconds to develop it further. 

Got a question? Just ask!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

To stretch or not to stretch?

A lot of controversy surrounds this subject, so let's put a few of the myths regarding pre and post exercise stretching to bed. Today we will start with pre exercise.

Personally I would not undertake any form of aggressive exercise or sport without a gentle pulse raising activity i.e jog, cycle, for five minutes followed by some stretching exercises. The stretches involved would include a mixture of static and dynamic exercises aiming to take the muscle NO FURTHER than what you would deem 'normal range' for you. The objective is to simply get the muscle used to moving through it's range and this can be done statically, whereby the end of the muscle flexibility is held for up to 10 seconds or dynamically, where it is slowly and repeatedly moved into it's end of range. That doesn't mean aggressive bouncing!!

It is good practice to get into the habit of stretching the whole body rather than just the muscles you think are involved in your chosen activity. I have lost count of the clients I have seen who only stretch their quadriceps, calves and hamstrings prior to running. Yes these are the primary muscles that will move your leg forward and back but there are quite a few more involved in fixating and stabilising the body during the running phase.

So in summary:
If you want to reduce your chance of over stretching/straining your muscles during exercise ensure your stretch before hand. It only takes a few minutes!!

Check out tomorrows tweet for my views on post exercise stretching. You can also get other tips on nutrition and health via my blog:

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Weight Loss Tip of the Day 1

Start the day with a good breakfast. Don't step out of the door before having something to eat in the morning. A coffee or juice is not enough! Try Porridge, Muesli or a cooked breakfast (includes 1 x poached egg; 1 x slice of toast; 1 x rasher of bacon; tablespoon of baked beans). Enjoy!