The statement, "Fitness may be
an important, modifiable risk factor" is very important.
It simply means that age, weight, and conditioning of the study
subjects may be an important factor facilitating the injuries in
Based on the way some have written
about this study, it's okay to run a 100 meter sprint full speed
without stretching beforehand. Now, this may be possible for a
small number of lean, young army recruits in Wales. However, does
anyone believe that a powerful, muscled-up NFL running back, or
middle-aged and older adults can run a sprint cold without leaving
both hamstrings laying on the track? Don't think so...
Use Common Sense
...and the full body of research
Think about it; if an out-of-shape
couch potato (with just enough muscle to change channels) performs
high-intensity, fast-twitch exercise, he may get injured ...
pre-stretched or not.
This is why researchers in 2003
concluded, after researching all of the studies on this subject,
"no definitive conclusions can be drawn..." In
short, there needs to be a body of research based on age,
weight, conditioning, and the study needs to be performed for the
specific sport and type of exercise before life-changing
conclusions are drawn.
The truth about
First, yoga is great for you! Don't
let some writer using sensationalism to sale a story to a magazine
deter you from stretching.
Researchers show that prolonged
stretching (in the form of yoga) with moderate aerobic exercise
and diet control will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverse
hardening of the arteries (20 percent regression) in adults with
proven coronary atherosclerotic disease.
After one year in a yoga program,
participants lost weight, reduced cholesterol, and improved their
exercise capacity, (Retardation of coronary atherosclerosis
with yoga lifestyle intervention, 2000, Manchanda).
If you have time for yoga class, or
your martial arts training emphasizes stretching, that's great.
Keep it up! But if you're not attending karate or yoga classes,
then the Ready Set Go Fitness 10-Minute Stretching Routine may be
stretching before games
Researchers show that athletes
should not perform prolonged stretching routines before playing a
game because it temporarily slows muscle activation. Dynamic
stretching - Neck Circles, Arm Swings, Knee Rotations - may be
better for pre-competition.
(stretch-and-hold "static" stretching) slightly decreases strength
for up to an hour after stretching by slightly impairing muscle
activation. (Reduced strength after passive stretch of the
human plantar flexors, 2000, Fowles).
Static stretching builds flexibility
and should be performed regularly, just not immediately before a
Stretching as a
Since warming up prior to anaerobic
training is an absolute rule - never to be broken - stretching can
be combined (multi-tasked) as part of the warm-up.
The goal of the warm-up is to get
the blood flowing and raise body temperature (one degree) prior to
high-intensity workouts and athletic competitions.
Gains in flexibility are dependent
on the “duration” of stretch-hold position, and researchers show
the best “stretch-hold position” (for time-spent) is 30 seconds. (The
effect of time on static stretch on the flexibility of the
hamstring muscles, 1994, Bandy). "Best" means optimal results
for time-spent. You can get positive results with 2 minute
stretch-holds, but 30 seconds yields positive benefits.
Remember to move slowly into
the fully stretched-out position and hold it 30 seconds. Also,
move just as slow out-of the the stretch-hold position. This type
of stretching produces gains in flexibility, but it can cause
injury, if you don't listen to your body and move in slow
The take home
1. The best way to
build flexibility is static stretching. And using the 30 second
stretch-hold is shown to produce great results.
2. Static stretching
can be used as part of a warm-up for training, however, static
stretching will slightly slow you down for an hour afterwards so
examine your training goals.
stretching (arm swings, hip rotations, toe touches) will aid in
the warm up process by increasing flexion in the joints and
increasing body temperature. This method is preferred before
Have a great day!
--- Author: Phil Campbell, M.S.,
Author Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness