When you were training for sports in your P.E classes, you were most likely told to hold your hamstring and groin stretches several seconds before starting your training session. This static stretching is very popular and is a common routine in any athletes routine.
But more recently if you ask a medical professional or coach about stretching before your workout you will likely get a different answer. So why is some advice to stretch before working out and other advice is to stretch after your workout? We will cover the reasons behind this in today’s blog.
To start, there are different kinds of stretching. These are listed below:
Static Stretching: This is this most common stretching that people think of. For example, if bend over to touch your toes and hold the position, you are performing static stretching.
Passive: This is when someone else moves your body into a stretch and proceeds to hold the tension while you are relaxed.
Dynamic: This is a controlled movement into the stiff position. The best way to think about it is performing a deep squat or lunges.
Ballistic: This involves using your bodies momentum to bounce in and out of stiffness. It’s not recommended by many because of the chances of injury but is more commonly used by dancers.
PNF: This is an acronym for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation and describes a combination of passive stretching followed by different types of muscular contractions. If someone gets your muscle into a position, for example a hamstring stretch while you are on your back. Then asks you to contract and then relax while they push the muscle further, this is PNF.
In the past, research showed that performing static stretching before training or a competition could reduce the chances of muscular strain. This is why it is such a popular form of stretching.
But recent research is showing that static stretching can lead to a decrease in strength, speed and power. So this would lessen the athlete’s performance. But it might not be the static stretching that is the problem, rather it is the long duration someone will hold the stretch for.
Stretches for short periods of time (under 30 seconds) cause no harm to muscular performance and cause an increase in mobility, this means you can get into better technical positions when performing your lift or movement. It is when a stretch is held for 45 seconds that there is a decrease in power, speed and strength.
A test to do:
If you struggle with tightness and feel restricted you can test if you are short of what is expected of your muscles.
Place your foot 10 cm from the wall and then bend your knee to try and touch the wall without lifting your heel to do so. If you can touch your knee to the wall you have passed the test and have good ankle mobility. Working on passive stretches of 30-second holds can help to free up your calf and get to pass the test without affecting your performance.
For example, a deep goblet squat can help improve your ankle mobility before training. Hold a kettlebell on your chest and sit down into a deep squat. Hold 4 stretches for 10-30 seconds.
If you do not have good ankle mobility you will be unable to get into a good squat position and therefore will hinder your technique.
In the clinic, we work using a variety of techniques to help improve mobility in all areas of the body, including ankles. So working on your muscles and joints to help get into a good position will allow you to perform and move better day to day and during athletic performance.
Stretching prior to your workout is not a one size fits all. It will come down to you as an individual and what your body responds best to. Also, it will depend on where your weaknesses are. Your tightness can also be down to overall muscle weakness, so it could tighten up to try and stabilise the area.
To help work out what needs to be done to fix your issue and to help get you the best results contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois
Have you been working on your mobility and flexibility but over time have not seen that much of a change? This may be because you are failing to address the route cause of the issue.
Currently, runners, cyclists, home gym-goers and more are chasing the idea of getting an increase in range of motion. This is done to either feel less stiff, perform better or just as simple as being able to touch your toes. But the techniques being implemented may not be causing any long term change or potentially your risk of injury. Doing mobility training such as stretches forcing your muscles past their normal range of motion and therefore gives us the ability to perform exercises in more unstable positions.
Following this, the tendency is to then train strength immediately after mobility training in these unstable positions. End ranges are unstable positions so the perceived threat to the integrity of the joint is very high and therefore increases the risk of injury. This is because the body is trying to protect us from that unstable position because it lacks the joint stability to be in that position in day-to-day life. So often people get trapped in the cycle of stretch-strengthen and then repeat, failing to address the root cause of the tightness in the muscles.
Put simply you need to ask yourself why muscle is tight to begin with. This will help you get rid of the mindset of simply stretching a type muscle and therefore allow you to address underpinning factor. And this is how you will make a long-term change to your flexibility.
Some examples of muscular tightness is being down to stability issues are:
Hamstring tightness could be down to core muscle weaknesses
Stiff shoulders could be because of weak rotator cuff muscles
Tight calves should be down to weak muscles at the front of the leg or hip stability issues
In the clinic, we do a full functional assessment on every new patient coming in. This allows us to find the true cause of your pain or tightness and therefore create a long term change. So, if you suffer from long term tightness or muscular pain and would like us to assess and treat you, then contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois
Those new born days and weeks for most women can be described as a being a bubble of love and awe at what your body has produced. During the nine months prior to this we invest so much time making sure we eat healthy, exercise wisely and educate ourselves of what’s to come.
We may have attended ante natal classes that focus on breastfeeding and focus on how to get that perfect latch. Some mothers and babies take to it easily but many have obstacles to overcome, such as suboptimal latch, tongue tie and nipple pain.
Breastfeeding is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world but it isn’t in anyway easy.
Someone that is often neglected at this precious time is the mum. It can affect us in so many ways particularly emotionally, mentally and also physically.
How does breastfeeding physically affect the mum?
Many postpartum women who attend the clinic have issues with neck pain, mid back pain, headaches, low back pain and even referred pain into the arm/ hand. Basically their posture is inadvertently suffering from all that nursing, cuddling, holding and carrying of their little one.
Of course this doesn’t just apply to nursing mothers but also to those that bottle feed.
Tips on how you can help yourself:
It’s important to ‘check in’ every so often when you’re feeding to make sure you’re not hunching over your baby constantly. This will put strain on those postural muscles and local joints.
Bring the baby to you and use supports such as a nursing pillow to help.
Look at changing nursing position if possible. For example try laid back nursing where you can relax more during feeding.
Foam roll your mid back little and often to relieve tension.
Start doing some gentle stretches for your mid back, chest, neck and hips.
Chiropractic, soft tissue therapies and dry needling are excellent tools for relieving joint restrictions and muscle tension. As well as these, stability exercises are given to make sure these areas are better able to withstand the demands of everyday parenting.
If you are still in discomfort or experience an increase in symptoms consult your local health professional or contact us today for a consultation.