Is Stretching Really Bad For Me?

written by  john c ashworth, ma, cscs, ces

Point blank. No one stretches enough, if at all. This truth is clear after working as a fitness coach for two decades now. But what difference does that make, if any, in your pursuit of improved levels of health and fitness, and weight loss?

Well, in spite of recent research that seems to confirm that your lack of limbering up might actually be working against you, I can tell you from both my personal experience in my own body and with the experience of the middle-aged clients I’ve worked with over the years, that very likely, this new research does not apply to you.

What the research says

Quickly, the new research that is cycling through the air waves concludes that for athletes who compete in short sprint or power-based activities that require jumping for example (like the long or high jump in track) stretching before the event can lengthen the muscles in a way that prevents them from contracting as forcefully and ultimately hinder performance.

Here is the New York Times article that details this research and that will provide you with further reading if you are so inclined.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/reasons-not-to-stretch/?ref=health

So what does this mean for you?

Keep stretching as often and as much as you are willing to. Why? Because the findings of this new research don’t apply to you. For the most part, you are likely not in a high-level competition of any kind. The finding that stretching will limit or even hinder your performance only applies to a small, elite group of athletes, not people like you and me.

One of the most challenging aspects of beginning an exercise program after many years of inactivity is that your body will not respond the way you want it to. Your muscles will shorten, tighten, and ache and very often leave you feeling a lot older than your years. Stretching promotes recovery and prevents your body from breaking down as you embark on the work and deal with the physical demands of placing this new training stimulus on your body. Believe me, you will need stretching to survive the kind of exercise you need to perform to lose weight, for example.

In addition to enhancing your recovery, stretching will also help you maintain range of motion in your joints and prevent the kind of tightening up that often occurs post-exercise and that can ultimately limit your performance.

Sure, for the more highly trained athletes who were involved in this research, it appears that stretching before competition may actually hinder performance, though I remain skeptical. But for the rest of us, I’ve only witnessed the benefits that stretching, especially post exercise, can elicit.

To help you in your effort to stretch, one of the students from Madison Country Day School was here to job shadow today, and she created this quick fact sheet for you on stretching.

Stretching fact sheet

And, of course, here is a quick video that demonstrates 5 dynamic stretches you can start performing today to help limber you up pre and post-exercise.

In-Home Personal Training Now Available on these dates and times in your neighborhood……

Thanks for stopping by…:)

My name is John Ashworth, otherwise known as The Fitness Nomad. You may also notice me from my regular appearances with Leigh Mills on NBC 15. I was just on last Friday discussing the importance of strength training for kids.

John Ashworth and Leigh Mills NBC 15 Madison WI

Most of you who have landed here because you clicked an ad on Facebook today offering In-Home Personal Training.  Currently, I have availability on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9-10 AM. I happen to be seeing another client in your neighborhood on these days until 8:30 and thought I would put the word out to the rest of you nearby who might be interested in taking advantage of this opportunity.  If you did not click the ad on facebook, then you can just consider this your lucky day.  Thanks for reading the blog 🙂

To take advantage of this offer, all you have to do is request one of my Nomad Kick-Start Programs through my personal training web site at: http://www.nomadkickstart.com

In the “How did you hear about us” field in the form, be sure to mention the facebook ad and you will receive an additional $25 off your Nomad Kickstart program. I can only offer two of these and will only run this campaign for the next 48 hours, so if you’re interested, please head on over to the Nomad Kick-Start page and fill out the form right now.

Thanks for your interest and I hope to hear from you soon…

-John

PS  There are no long-term commitments here.  All you have to do is commit to The Fitness Nomad Kick-Start program to get going…

Five Exercises YOU can do on the capital steps in Downtown Madison, WI

workouts 5 exercises you can do on the stairs

>>Wisdom Home >>Exercise >>Workouts

This Friday, my regular fitness segment with Leigh Mills will air at about 5:15 PM on NBC 15 here in Madison, WI.  We filmed it the other day.  I wanted to provide you a sneak peak into the segment and also a more comprehensive video demonstration so that you can try the moves yourself.  And you don’t have to be downtown to do it.  Any staircase or stairwell will do 🙂

Have Fun!

-John