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SCOI April Newsletter Print E-mail

Prevention Tips: The Latest on Stretching

Article continuation for SCOI Website from FIND OUT MORE link

Absolutely key is proper stretching before, and after, activities:

  • Never stretch a cold muscle in any way. Warm up first with a brisk walk or slow jog for five minutes before your workout or competition.
  • After warming up, do dynamic (not static) stretches. Newer research shows remaining still and holding a stretch significantly reduces participants’ power. Instead, do flowing movements as in yoga, hip rotations or arm circles, a goose-step march or butt kick.
  • Do static stretches after your workout.  Your muscles will be sufficiently warm and you’ll be able to lengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility.

Dynamic stretching is most effective for athletes, as it prepares the body for physical exertion and sports performance.  The new research demonstrates it does a better job of increasing range of movement, blood and oxygen to soft tissues prior to exertion.

However, dynamic stretching is effective and safe only when using proper techniques.  Below are some general suggestions on how to safely use these dynamic techniques:

  • Never use jerky or forced movements.  Always move in a way that gently propels your part to maximum range of motion just beyond what is comfortable
  • Remember to stretch in the similar ways your muscle will move during a workout.   If you’re trying to increase the height of a kick in martial arts, for instance, gently swing a straight leg forward to gradually increase your range
  • Forget the “No pain, no gain” adage when doing dynamic stretching.  Your movements should be gentle to start with and then progress.  If you’re feeling pain, your muscles are contracting for protection.
  • Ankle pops help stretch ankles before activities like basketball.  Slightly bounce off both sets of toes while keeping the knees very slightly bent.  Think of it as a skipping motion, but as you move forward
  • Activities like tennis, soccer or basketball involve quick-response, lateral motions, which can result in such injuries as meniscus tears.  A great coordination exercise for your warm-up is called a carioca step.  As you move laterally to your left, cross your right foot in front of your left; then step with your left and cross your right foot behind the left and repeat.  Remember to rotate your hips and keep your feet moving fast.
  • Avid golfers can experience low-back pain. Use a “pointer” stretch by keeping your left leg straight while your right leg is bent, then reach down with your right hand and try to touch your left toe.  Repeat on the other side.  These movements are excellent for enhancing flexibility in your low back and hamstrings
  • Runners and walkers can use dynamic stretching to better protect their knees, ankles and shins.  Runners World Magazine produced a video to demonstrate six dynamic stretching exercises to help you stretch safely before your run or walk:,7120,s6-241-287--13442-0,00.html


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