Stretching, still relevant?
Famous extensions, everyone does them, but how many really know why? The reasons appear to be manifold: to warm up, to avoid pain after training, to prevent injuries or to improve flexibility. However, when is lengthening really necessary? As long as you take the time to stretch, it's best to make sure you're not doing it for nothing.
Stretching and warming up
In the warm-up, we want to increase the body temperature and prepare the tissues (muscles, joints, tendons) for physical activity. Where does prolongation fit into all this? In fact, the so-called passive (static) stretching is not the right solution for you. They have been shown to be ineffective and may also cause an interruption in the blood supply. A prolonged passive warm-up is detrimental to performance in all types of sports except for arts and crafts such as gymnastics and figure skating. However, the so-called dynamic stretching as well as exercises specific to the sports activity being practiced would be more ideal in order to warm up the body adequately.
Stretching and healing
The most common reason to practice stretching is to prevent aches (or "not scratch"). However, stretching immediately after exercise will have the opposite effect: it will amplify the micro-muscular shocks caused by the exercise. How? Indeed, long-term static stretching after training compresses the capillaries, which leads to disruption of the blood supply and reduced muscle regeneration and recovery. So it should not be relied upon to improve recovery after training.
Stretch and flexibility
It is clear that stretching has a significant impact on improving and maintaining flexibility. Since flexibility tends to decline with age, it is a good idea to work on it if you feel that some muscles are tense. It is also necessary to take into account the role that flexibility plays in the sport being played. For example, a gymnast will need much more flexibility than a basketball player. So the stretch will be more beneficial for the player. A person who lacks flexibility and for whom this deficiency interferes with their exercise or daily activities can benefit from improving their flexibility. Therefore, if you feel that your muscles are tense, you can choose to stretch.
Stretching and injury prevention
Stretching can help prevent injuries if you lack flexibility and this lack of flexibility can cause you injuries. For example, a person who does a full-range bench press but lacks flexibility in the chest is at a higher risk of injury. However, it is a mistake to think that passive stretching before training reduces the risk of injury. On the contrary, they mask pain (if any) and impair coordination between agonist and antagonist muscles. In short, in some cases, stretching can prevent injuries, but again, this is case by case. As with everything, "too much is not enough": Too much flexibility can also lead to injury risk. In short,
What you need to understand is that stretching is good for you, and if you feel the need to, do it! Don't do it just because "everyone does" or for all of the other reasons described above if they don't apply to you. If in doubt, consult a kinesiologist! It is perfectly trained to optimize your time in the training room.
If you want to stretch, here are the instructions that will guide you:
- Duration: 15-30 seconds per muscle
- Sets: 3 per muscle
- Frequency: at least once a week