Whether you’re looking to improve your mobility for athletic performance or to improve the quality of your life, there are various options available to you at Elevation Fitness Centre Burleigh Heads.  Mobility training changes often – what is popular today may not be popular today.

However, you will find that static stretching, yoga, dynamic stretching, and foam rollers remain constant in the world of mobility training.  Why is this?

Stretching to prevent injury or improve athletic performance is a highly controversial topic.  There are experts who believe that stretching prior to exercising is best, while there are others who believe that stretching should come after (or during) the activity.

Some believe that starting off with a less intense version of the activity you are going to do is best.  As an example: A long distance runner could start with a light jog because stretching will have little to no value for them.  For the more aggressive activities, stretching may have greater benefits.

The “American Journal of Sports Medicine” published a study in 1982 that looked at the correlation between lower body strains and tendinitis injuries.  They discovered that there was a definite connection between muscle tightness and tendinitis.

There are many other movements that require a large range of motion that can take time to develop, as well as injury prevention.  Gymnasts and dancers are a prime example of this.  They need to improve their flexibility from a young age to perform at optimal levels.

Another example is a golfer – by increasing their torso flexibility they can increase their swing.  Some golf pros believe that increasing their backswing 2 inches can increase their drive by 20 yards.

There are four types of stretches most commonly used in fitness and conditioning.  Continue reading for a description of each, and then Elevation Fitness Centre Burleigh Heads can help you find the best style of stretching that meets your needs.

 

Static Stretching

Static stretching is considered the most popular type of stretching.  This is because it is the easiest to learn by reading a book or watching a video.  Bob Anderson’s book, Stretching, is a classic resource for static stretching.

How to:

  • It is highly recommended that you remain motionless throughout the entire stretch.
  • Stretch the muscle past it’s relaxed state.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 – 60 seconds.
  • Slowly release the stretch and allow the muscle to go back to its relaxed state.

Many yoga movements could be considered static stretching, although some of the movements are quite complex and require isometric contractions.

There is some controversy over the use of static stretching prior to exercise.  It is believed, by some, that your strength and speed may be reduced if you use static stretching immediately before your activity.

The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine published a study in 2012 that reviewed static stretching.  The results of 106 different studies showed that that static stretches of 60 seconds or more prior to your exercise could reduce your speed, power, and strength.

Other types of static stretching:

Partner Stretching – This involves having a partner stretch the intended muscle while you focus on relaxing the muscle.  Stretch to Win (2006) and Fascial Stretch Therapy (2014) are two books written by the Chris and Ann Fredericks about partner stretching.

They teach one method which involves having the individual lay on a table with several wide straps to help stabilize the limbs that are not being stretched.  The partner then moves the limbs through patterns that stretch the intended muscles and a specific type of connective tissue called facia.

Distraction stretching – Distraction stretching has bene popularized by Kelly Starrett.  It uses elastic bands to apply traction that opens joint capsules.  You can find more information about this type of static stretching in Kelly Starrett’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard (2013).

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling uses dense logs of foam to stretch the soft tissue.  There is a huge variety of foam rollers available with 6 inches by 36 inches being the most popular sized log.  The denser the logs are, the longer they keep their shape and they can be found in the Function room in Elevation Fitness centre.

How to:

  • Lie with the part of your body that is tender or stiff on the foam roller.
  • Slowly roll in both directions to locate the tender spot.
  • Hold that position until the muscle relaxes – approximately 5 – 10 seconds.
  • Slowly roll down the length of muscle until you find the next tender spot.
  • Repeat at each location 3 to 5 times.
  • Complete this process 3 times a week.
  • Use the roller on your bed to lessen the pressure.

During a 2006 study of 23 uni-age men and women who complained of tight hamstrings, researchers discovered that there was not any significant difference in flexibility during the two-month period.

Foam rolling is a popular method in athletic and physical fitness programs, but there is still questionable debate about whether it improves flexibility.

 

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)

Created in the early 1940’s by Herman Kabat, PNF is most commonly performed with a partner.  The goal is to stimulate nerve endings which respond to muscle tension changes.  The muscles relax more than they can with traditional static stretching when these proprioceptors are activated.

How to:

  • Complete a 5 – 10-minute conditioning warmup prior to stretching.
  • Position the muscle group so that the muscles will be stretched under tension.
  • Contract the muscle group for 5-6 seconds while a partner or immovable object applies resistance.
  • Relax the muscle group.
  • The partner then pushes the muscle group slightly past its normal range and holds for 20 – 30 seconds.
  • Allow the muscle group to relax for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the process 2 – 4 times with each muscle group.

Robert McAtee and Jeff Charland have a great resourced PDF, Facilitated Stretching (4th ed. 2013), which contains more information about proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation.  At the best gym in Burleigh Heads, are we are a little biased, we have Clare and Jeanette to help you and be sure to check the Elevation Fitness Class timetable for a great Pilate’s or Yoga class which we know you will love. We are also so fortunate to have the lovely Erin who instructs the Elevation Fitness Centre mobilise class and we look forward to seeing you there 

Dynamic stretching

Strength and conditioning coaches often recommend dynamic stretching prior to training or competition.  This type of mobility training requires rapid movements and a large range of motion while maintaining full control of the muscles.

How to:

  • Dynamic stretching is intended to activate the muscles you will be using during your training. Therefore, they should focus on the various muscles you will be using complete exercises such as lunges with a twist, knee to chest, high kick, hip stretch with a twist, or jump lunges.
  • Make sure you are not holding the stretches for an extended time.
  • Use full range of motion.

The term “calisthenics” may sound old-fashioned, however many of these exercises are considered dynamic stretches.  Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training (4th ed, 2003), written by Thomas Kurtz is a popular book with more information about dynamic stretching.

Although what’s popular changes, stretching will always be a part of your routine.  No matter which type you prefer, it is best to find someone who can coach you on proper techniques.  You can definitely find our dedicated staff at Elevation Fitness Centre Burleigh Heads can teach you the techniques you need to remain safe and healthy.

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