To stretch or not to stretch: is that the question?

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Information about To stretch or not to stretch: is that the question?
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Published on February 28, 2014

Author: CoreBicycle

Source: slideshare.net

To stretch or not to stretch, is that the question?

To stretch or not to stretch, is that the question? More post:  http://corebicycle.com/blog/ Follow us:       http://www.corebicycle.com/ FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/CoreBicycle Twitter: https://twitter.com/CoreBicycle G+: www.google.com/+CorebicycleCompany/ Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/CoreBicycle Vimeo https://vimeo.com/channels/456516 In this article we will try to shine some light over a topic that seems to be in everybody’s mind lately, even though it is a subject that has been extensively debated about for many years without much clarification. Is it necessary to stretch? From our point of view, the question is wrongly formulated. It would be better to ask yourself: Does this articulation “X” reaches its optimum joint range for its function? As the question in itself is quite complex, we will break down the answer in different sections. It is important to familiarise yourself with the terminology: flexibility: an element’s capability of being deformed and/or bent without breakage. elasticity: an element’s capability to go back to its original shape after being stretched. extensibility: an element’s capability of elongation. joint range: degree of mobility of an articulation segment. So, what we should focus on to improve when stretching are the first three concepts in order to achieve an appropriate joint range for our needs – demands for a marathon runner and a floor gymnast are not the same). Página 2

To stretch or not to stretch, is that the question? We still have to look into a couple of matters for us to be able to give a better answer. To the question: If I have a good stretching routine will I avoid injuries? The answer is clear: No. There is no evidence to support this theory, so a person that stretches does not have a lower risk of injury than someone that does not stretch. Never the less, to the question: If I follow a good stretching routine will I perform better? The answer would probably be: Yes. If accompanied with good training planning, good bicycle maintenance, good nutrition… So, what to do? Who is right? As we were saying at the beginning of the article, the most important thing is that the muscle is able to elongate (extensible) and return to its original shape (elastic) correctly and allowing the necessary joint range for the action, without generating so much tension in the muscle that it limits its movement. If this is your case, if your muscle tissue does not allow you to have good mobility for your needs, you should focus on this physical property. Have you ever wondered why a cyclist can remain for extended periods of time in the ‘aero’ position on the bicycle when it is so uncomfortable? It might be that your lumbar and scapular areas do not have the flexibility required to maintain that position. Another matter to pay attention to is knowing when and how to stretch. Even though the classification varies from researcher to researcher, here we will describe the two most useful stretches for a daily routine. Static stretching, passive. This type of stretching is done by maintaining elongation positions in specific segments, placing the muscular group at its maximum stretch position (without pain!) and keeping it there for one to three minutes in order to allow the muscular tissue to modify its structure. You must reach the maximum stretch position in a slow and controlled manner and, once reached, it should be comfortable and easy to maintain. If you do not do it this way you might produce muscle fatigue and alter the entire exercise. Main goal is to gain muscular extension and consequently flexibility and elasticity. Obviously these type of stretching improves the joint range and the movement capacity of the muscular segment; it also improves the return blood flow, mobility of the different muscle tissue layers and reduction of the nervous conduction speed (by which the muscle tone is reduced). It is important to do this type of stretching in individual training sessions, same as when training strength or skills. You should NEVER do this stretching whilst warming up for training and even less before competing, as it actually has a negative effect in your sprinting and jumping capabilities, due to the muscle’s reduction in the reaction speed. Some researchers say that if when stretching you do not go beyond 30° you will not suffer the adverse effects. Página 3

To stretch or not to stretch, is that the question? Dynamic stretching, active. Ballistic stretching, rebounding, even though it was removed from the sports scene during many years, seems to be acquiring relevance and nowadays it is considered as the most appropriate warming up routine before training or competing. They are based in the principle of stimulation of the myotendinous unit by the activation of the muscle’s sensitive afferents and inhibition of the antagonistic muscle. It also replicates the action of the exercise’s posture, generating a visual of it. Furthermore, it helps to rise the muscle’s internal temperature, facilitating its action and improving the nervous system speed. These, as opposed to the static stretching, seem to improve the muscle’s reaction time. Lastly, remind you that, as with most things in life, it all ‘depends’ on the circumstances. It is important to stretch correctly, concentrated, without rushing, listening to your body and dedicating the same commitment you put into other training sessions. Above all, if in doubt ask your Physio for advice in which would be the best stretching for your requirements. Olga Borao Soler Professora Fisioteràpia - EUCS Fisioterapeuta en centro privado oborao@fub.edu Enjoy and Ride!! CoreBicycle Team Translated by Pablo Ferrer-Cid Página 4

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