Stretching and warming up seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Walk through any gym or basketball court and you’ll see someone stretching a hamstring, pectoral muscle, or their biceps. The usual response is this: “I’m warming up,” or simply, “That is what you do before lifting.”

Hmm…. Not terribly scientific if you ask me!Here is the truth: Stretching before training will not only make you weaker, but it will increase the risk on an injury by about 30%. Nice!

How? Essentially, the muscle stays in a lengthened (weakened) position and does not gain its elasticity back for a while. Also, stretching does not necessary make you more flexible, but instead helps youget used to the pain. This stinks now, doesn’t it?

Also, there is no clear evidence that stretching speeds up recovery after a workout.There have been some studies showing that it may have a calming effect on some trainees (think yoga classes), so if you belong in this category, stretch away under the shower after your training session.

To give you a full overview, there are three kinds of stretches:

1. Static stretch: Static stretching is the most common one. It can be seen in trainees holding on to doorframes, pulling their foot behind them or trying to touch their toes. This is best done AFTER your workout. Just remember to hold for at least 30 seconds.

2. Dynamic stretch: Dynamic stretching occurs when you move the muscle through its full range. This is a great way to stretch and happens naturally during properly done weight lifting. Think flyes for the chest, pull overs for the lats, sissies for quads, etc. Once again, weight lifting reigns supreme!

3. Ballistic stretch: The older ones among us (like yours truly) might remember your old HS gym teacher telling you to reach your toes in a whipping motion or tilt your head to the side by pulling it in short spurts. This type of stretching has no place anywhere as it can actually tear the muscle and the ligament.

Another myth busted by yours truly in order to help you get the body you deserve!

Until next time,
Maik Wiedenbach