Who has time to stretch? Part 2: Pre and Post Workout
In part 1 of “Who Has Time to Stretch” I admitted that I have not taken proper time to stretch in years. I did a lot of prenatal yoga when preggers with both kiddos, but other than that I was a “yep, I can reach my toes, I’m good” kinda girl. Sad, I know. I just didn’t feel I had the time to make stretching a priority. Yet in the last month I have been starting to research, and incorporate, stretching into my workout routine.
Here is my inspired daughter doing yoga after watching preggo momma do her routine.
And here I caught her actually doing my yoga video when I came back in the room after stepping out for a minute. I’m hoping the cuteness of my daughter distracts you from the clutter of my house in this photo.
So, I started by adding static stretching into my post workout routine over the last month. My next goal is to incorporate a pre workout dynamic stretch or maybe even the power plate (I will explain what that is in a minute).
While I always knew that there were different types of stretching techniques and that I should be partaking in some form of them, I never knew much about when I should perform each kind. I can remember our long pre-game stretch routines our team participated in when I played soccer back in my freshman year of college and throughout high school. Who knew that newer research would come out to say that this type of stretching (pre-game) was a bad idea.
Two of the more widely used forms of stretching are dynamic and static.
Static stretching is the type many of us have done for decades. It’s the “hold one position for 30-60 seconds” stretch. Anyone who has played college, high school, or even elementary school sports has most likely partaken in this type of stretching. Said athletes most likely did this static stretching before a workout as a way to loosen up and keep from pulling their muscles. However, according to recent studies, this type of stretching before a workout could in fact be harmful.
According to a recent study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, passive static stretching prior to lifting weights could make you feel weaker and less stable during your workout. According to another study, a meta-analysis of over 100 other studies, static stretching can reduce muscle strength, cut muscle power, and reduce explosive muscular performance.
Yet, given this new research, static stretching still has it’s place: post workout. Static stretching tells the brain and nervous system to sedate the muscle temporarily. So when you do static stretching, it tells the brain to let go of all that tension from training. This helps you to enter recovery mode, and helps your muscles to recover quicker.
So given this new research, I can skip a proper pre-workout stretch warm-up right? Quite the contrary. This is where dynamic stretching comes in.
Dynamic stretches closely mimic movements made during a workout so they prepare the athlete for the activity he or she is about to partake in. Dynamic stretching doesn’t cause any micro-tearing or weakening of the muscles that static stretching does, so it’s much more beneficial pre-workout.
Here is a video example of a great pre workout warm up with Dynamic Stretching by The Ancestral Body.
I have been really good about fitting in my static stretching post workout this last month. This month I plan to fit in dynamic stretching before my workouts. I do a lot of the quick movements pre workout but I really should take more time than I currently do.
I am also really excited that my gym has the power plate I have been reading about recently. The power plate is a vibrational training device that has a number of benefits.
The power plate can improve:
- Proprioception (your sense of how your own limbs are oriented in space)
- Neurological processes in general
The power plate has even been used in Europe for neurological rehabilitation and found to help relieve symptoms of MS, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and paralysis resulting from trauma.
Sounds amazing right? I may just give it a try tomorrow.
Have you ever heard of or tried the power plate? Let me know your thoughts below.