Relationship Between Stretching and Working Out
Stretching before working out has become a very common practice. We see this in local school gym classes, sports teams and the weight room. Everyone does so it must right, right?
We are going to cover:
- Different types of stretching
- How static stretching impacts your workout
- How you should warm up before a workout
- Dynamic warm up examples
Static vs Dynamic Stretching
Static stretching is when you hold a stretch without movement. This is usually done at the end range of motion. Static stretching will help to temporarily increase your muscles range of motion.
Dynamic stretching takes place when you are moving through a range of motion while trying to improve mobility (e.g. Hip CARS, leg swings, arm circles).
How static stretching impacts force output?
Static stretching can disrupt your neural efficiency. As we touched on earlier static stretching temporarily increases your range of motion. A couple things can happen if you do this before you workout. You can be working with high loads while using an increased range of motion your body is not used to. Additionally, static stretching can potentially decrease your force output as you just spent time lengthening the muscle and now you are going to demand that muscle to function at a high capacity. The loss in muscle stiffness after stretching appears to increase connective tissue and muscle compliance along with a reduction in neural stimulation (Anning 2012). This reduction in Neural stimulation can negatively impact your performance during the workout.
How should you warm up before exercise?
Dynamic stretching is a great way to warm up before you exercise because it promotes blood flow and activates the muscles which you will be using for your workout or activity. Furthermore, you can use dynamic stretches to mimic movements that you will be doing in your activity or sport.
If you are working up to heavy sets in the weight room make sure to appropriately use lower weight to build up to your working sets. This will allow your body to warm up as you get used to the weight.
While preparing your muscles and connective tissue, dynamic stretching may help to maximize your intensity during a workout.
Dynamic Stretching Examples:
- CARS – Controlled Articular Rotations
- High knees
- Butt Kicks
- Animal movements: crab walk, bear crawl, duck walk
- Leg Swings
- Body weight lunges