When i sit down with a new client I am always shocked at how little that they understand about their own body. The basics of how it works and how its built from the factory needs a lot more teaching by all wellness spa's and gyms.
Now anyone that follows my blog at Club Recharge knows that I live and breathe this knowledge and my pursuit to learn every aspect of it will probably consume the rest of my life. But i think it is equally important to stop the spread of old, unproven misconceptions that seem to be handed down from one generation to the next. For example when I speak with athletic individuals or sports athletes, they are still using knowledge from the 1950's that if they stretch before working out that they will reduce the risk of injury. Not only is this patently false, several university studies concluded that you may even increase your risk of injury from stretching before working out or training. Many can't understand how this can be true when so many in our society believe it to be fact, but if you truly think about it when was the last time you saw and instructional workout video that showed a pre-stretch workout. You would have to reach back very far into your DVD workout video collection to probably the late 70's.
Here is some truth about stretching. First of all stretching in general is very good for the muscles, ligaments and tendons, but timing plays more of a part than was originally understood. The best time to stretch is right after a training session or workout, simply because your muscles are warmed up, looser and their is adequate blood flow that will help lengthen the muscle without tearing the muscle fibers. Their have been dozens of university studies demonstrating the effects of pre-workout stretching and about the only thing more ineffective in preventing injuries than static stretching is dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching evolves aggressive movements, for example high leg lifts, high stepping, etc. you get the point. This generally involves the process of forcing the muscle to stretch past its normal range without adequate blood flow. This method of pre-workout is an injury waiting to happen.
Then you may ask, how should I warm up before working out or training?
The answer is simple HEAT? Heat can be generated from wearing multiple layers of clothing to train in, or standing on a vibration plate to warm up the muscles from fast twitch muscle fiber contractions.
By wearing multiple layers of clothing while you train, your bodies heat is trapped from escaping by your clothing, forcing your bodies heart rate to increase, by attempting to cool you down. This naturally increases blood flow to your muscles warming them up and making them more pliable.
The other way to warm up the muscles without stretching them is by standing on a vibration platform. A vibe plate causes hundreds of contractions in the muscle which will trigger the body to increase blood flow to that region of the body. Once the heat generated by the increased blood flow to the muscles has effectively been warmed up, now would be that time to perform some basic stretches to help lengthen the muscles.
These methods do not guarantee that you will not be injured, but considering for athletes that over 70% of sports related injuries occur in training rather than a game type setting. This should hopefully clear up some old long standing misconceptions.