Now that I have your attention. Lets be clear…
Stretching is good for you…
Stretching needs to be done right and applied in the right instances. Stretching is used too often as a one size fits all, as a singular term that can be applied to any athletic endeavor. But that is not true. Stretching is a complicated term that comprises Static Stretching and Dynamic Stretching.
As with anything in life, being informed is going to go a long way. Understanding when to apply Static vs Dynamic is going to ensure stretching is good for you.
~ Stretching will not prevent injury
~ Stretching will not prevent soreness
Injury can be a result of many different factors. Poor mechanics, muscle imbalances, ego lifting, improper warm ups and many more. Just because you stretched does not mean you’re good.
And when it comes to muscle soreness, that is a result of micro tears in the muscles. Remember DOMS? Stretching will not help prevent these tears nor will it help relieve soreness. It is a good rule of thumb to get some Static Stretching after a grueling workout and even some foam rolling. Your muscle are super tense so some stretching is good for you to relieve some of that tension build up.
Now, lets definite both terms…
Static Stretching – Think longer. Normally 10 – 30 seconds. Should be challenging yet modestly comfortable. Involves achieving a near end-range position on a tissue and the joints the tissue interacts with.
The goal of Static Stretching should be for improving flexibility. This is why Yoga is so great! (Disclaimer – I do not want to sell Yoga short – I know that it is more than stretching and very complex). As we get older, the elasticity in our muscles/tendons diminishes, so we must work them in their lengthened state. Static stretching is an ideal way to help maintain and even improve our levels of flexibility. Static stretching is not good for you when it comes to weightlifting.
There are numerous studies out there that suggest static stretching negatively impacts explosive or dynamic performance. And isn’t that what weightlifting is – explosive? You can reference study here… and here… and i could keep going but I won’t (I want you to actually finish this article). So for the time being, save Static Stretching for post workout or maybe an isolated event not tied to weightlifting.
Now onto Dynamic Stretching. You trying to be strong? You trying to be explosive? Perhaps set a new PR? Then Dynamic Stretching is the tool for you. A proper warm up for any weight training session should be focused around taking those muscle through proper range of motion. Training Chest? Maybe do some clap pushups and shoulder dislocations to warm the area up. Training Legs? Maybe some bodyweight lunges with a twist and some jump squats. The goal is to activate the muscles you’re about to work so they’re up and at’em from the beginning of your workout.
With any warm up, I’m not saying you should be sweating but you should perhaps be close to that level. Dynamic Stretching 100% approved for pre-lifting.
So now that you know, next time someone tell you to go stretch … Ask them what kind of stretching and why?