The debate on stretching before exercise goes on. A recent review of studies by Behm et al in the Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism Journal on the effect of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion and injury incidence in healthy active individuals has caused some confusion in the exercise community.
For years we were told to static stretch before exercise (in other words hold the stretch in one position). Static stretching was said to get muscles ready for performance. However, since then some studies have shown that static stretching can result in performance diminution of between 3.7% and 1.1%.
No – Dynamic Stretch!
So the recommendation was changed to say people should dynamically stretch before exercising. In other words, warm up the muscles through small movements, some specific to your sport. Dynamic stretching was shown to deliver increased performance by a mean of 1.3%.
But it’s not just about stretching, it’s also about injury prevention. The contribution of dynamic stretching to injury prevention is not clear and more studies are needed, but static stretching has been shown to provide an estimated 54% reduction.
Confused yet? So static stretching can result in reduction in performance, but is important in injury prevention. Dynamic stretching can improve performance, but its contribution to injury prevention is not yet clear.
Keep it under 60
What Behm et al added to the debate was that they found if static stretching was kept to under 60 seconds, performance was reduced by only 1.1%. Furthermore, static stretching away from actual performance increased muscle strength and could, they proposed, help runners.
It’s all individual
There are still some who disagree with this review, so the debate goes on. But really deciding whether to static stretch or dynamic stretch very much depends on your sport, what you want to achieve and the cost benefit of a minor reduction in performance versus injury risk.
Performance improvement through herbs
There is also a range of herbal solutions which can also help performance, for example, Ashwaghanda and Ginseng can help with endurance and recovery; Devil’s claw can treat tendonitis and muscle pain; Nettle is tendon protective and Turmeric and Ginger are just two of many herbs which are anti-inflammatory. Another great anti-inflammatory to have in your kitbag is the homeopathic remedy, Arnica. Taken promptly on injury Arnica can very effectively reduce inflammation and bruising in that critical 24 hour phase.
If you would like to improve your endurance or muscle strength, consider consulting us at Fresh Perceptions Health – firstname.lastname@example.org. There are natural solutions which can help easily and effectively.